Although Software as a Service (SaaS) and Communications as a Service (CaaS) are still relatively new trends in the business world, they have quickly become a huge part of our everyday lives. As a result, many business owners are wondering if it is time to say goodbye to on-premises solutions and move to the cloud.
Almost every aspect of modern business is making the move to the cloud. Customer data is housed in cloud-based CRMs like Salesforce.com. Documents are created, shared, and stored in Google Drive. And today, the most popular phone systems and call center solutions are cloud-based.
But despite the rise of SaaS solutions, many business owners are still hesitant to adopt cloud-based communications solutions. After all, it's a big decision, and many people are concerned that making the transition from an on-premise system to a cloud solution means giving up security measures, data ownership, and more.
Then, there is the question of cost. Most SaaS and CaaS solutions require little to no upfront investment, so they might seem like the better option for small to medium sized businesses (SMBs). Still, many business owners question whether or not the cost savings are substantial enough to make the switch from an on-premise system to a cloud communications solution.
So, how do I know if SaaS is right for my business?
Every business is different, and SaaS isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. But, there are several questions that almost every business owner needs to ask before making this critical decision.
What is the total cost of ownership?
On-premises communications solutions require significant upfront investment. There is the cost of the equipment and licenses, plus the additional expenses that come with installation. Every time that you add new employees, you'll have to purchase additional licenses and equipment - plus the cost of basic maintenance and routine upgrades.
Since SaaS applications do not require on-site equipment, they don't come with a big upfront investment. These solutions are built for scalability, so it's easy to add more users as your company grows. This is a big advantage for SMBs, as they usually don't have the capital required to invest in an on-premises system.
But for large or enterprise-level businesses, the total cost of ownership might not vary as much. This is why it is important to calculate and compare how much each solution will cost, both in terms of upfront expenses and recurring payments.
How important is disaster recovery?
SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud, which means that all data and services are hosted by your provider. This means that your business can continue running smoothly, even in the face of natural disasters.
Some on-premises solutions also offer disaster recovery options, but many do not. This could affect your business's ability to deliver service and connect with customers in the event of an outage.
Will I need an in-house IT team?
Cloud-based solutions are managed and maintained by the provider, which means that you won't need an in-house IT department to manage things like software upgrades and routine maintenance. In contrast, an on-premises solution requires constant attention; if you don't have an IT team in your company, you will probably need to outsource the task of upgrades and maintenance to an outside vendor.
Most SaaS applications come with some level of technical support; but, it is important to pay attention to the fine print! Many providers only offer email-based support for lower price points, and actually charge more for access to live support. If you plan to adopt a cloud-based solution and do not have an in-house IT team, you will want to make sure that you have access to 24/7 live support.
What are the contract terms?
Flexibility is one of the key selling points for SaaS applications. However, many providers force you to sign up for extended contract terms (sometimes 3 years or more) in order to qualify for the best prices. If you decide that SaaS isn't right for your business 2 years into a 3 to 4 year contract, you're stuck - and that flexible, cloud-based solution won't seem so flexible as it once did.
As you research SaaS providers, pay close attention to the contract terms. Ideally, you only want to sign contract that allows your business the flexibility to scale and adapt when needed.
Software as a Service (SaaS) and Your Business
Just like your business, every SaaS provider is different. As you consider whether your business could benefit from cloud solutions, like hosted business phone systems or virtual contact center software, it is important to do your homework and research a wide range of cloud providers.
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