In the last few years, Web 2.0 and SaaS have captured a significant portion of the market led by legacy ERP systems. Even large enterprises (which only showered their love on ERPs) are now accepting the value of SaaS application over legacy ERPs.
A survey about SaaS conducted in August 2009 by Business Week Research Services found that four out of five managers and senior executives in North America are either interested in, or in the process of, adopting the Software as a Service approach to information technology. In fact, roughly a third of the 326 respondents’ companies have already fully or partially adopted the SaaS approach for at least one application. Read more …
What is in SaaS that is enticing senior executives from all streams of management (IT, finance, HR or S&M), apart from cost benefits? Talent Junction explores eight key features of SaaS applications that are usually missing in traditional ERP software.
1. Usability: Web 2.0 SaaS software cares much more for usability than its older cousin ERP did. Vendors have understood the value of usability to end-users and are committing more budgets in analyzing the user behavior while working with the software.
Using this analysis, developers continually re-engineer the design to make it more usable. Menu structures, buttons, messages, user interface, and even application colors are chosen keeping web conventions in mind.
Read more about usability from expert Jacob Neilson.
2. Intuitive Graphic User Interface: SaaS and Web 2.0 applications are far more intuitive than legacy ERP systems. The actions, buttons, messages, etc. communicate to users in a way that most can understand what to do next. Graphics, images, and icons all are designed to convey meaningful and user-friendly messages.
The intuitive interface of SaaS application significantly reduces training needs. Thus, for large organizations, where training multiple teams requires big budgets, SaaS applications are a money-saver.
I would love to share a comment from a happy customer who uses SaaS application for Performance Management “We made the decision to roll this out without any training. Our employees took to it without any effort. We did so without any special training for employees. They all found it easy to manage and intuitive. We’re very happy with the end result.” Read the complete comment here…
3. Collaboration: With the advent of social media and its impact on businesses, collaboration is seen as a tool to develop social learning within the organization. Web 2.0 and SaaS software is significantly advanced in terms of facilitating collaboration among the user community. These applications allow users to share insights, comments, notes, references, and documents within the user groups. The use of such applications not only improves employee productivity but also enhances social learning within the organization.
4. Global Accessibility: With the rising culture of working from home, flexible working hours, etc., the need for anywhere-access to productivity applications is really pressing. SaaS software has made this a reality. As most SaaS-based applications are accessible via Internet, the access to application is global. Anyone who has access to Internet connection can use the application and be productive. Then, why wouldn’t executives and leaders love SaaS?
Note for Security paranoids: A SaaS application can also be installed on a secured server (with https:// access) and for companies who need high security levels, the access to employees can be routed via virtual network.
5. Configuration Outbids Customization: Another novel feature that SaaS model brings to business applications is its ability to configure the application instead of customization (which requires a software programmer to change).
A configurable SaaS software allows users and administrators to set their own preferences, enable or disable a feature, change the user interface look and feel, etc., thus significantly reducing the need for customization. This is achieved by stuffing more and more features into the application (often more than what a single customer can think of and use) and allowing the client to use or discontinue a feature by merely toggling a check box . Now customers have better control on the application that was non-existent even in big ERPS.
6. Feature /Technology Mass Upgrades: SaaS overcomes one of the biggest handicaps of the legacy systems – features and technology upgrades for mass users.
Most SaaS applications use a common base architecture (except a few pieces that are used for individual configurations). SaaS vendors are engaged in continuous R&D on the base application. New features and functions are added to the base application. As base upgrades for all customers, everyone can start using new features and functions (if they desire to do so). And there is no need to worry about the impact of configuration settings as configuration settings are managed in separate pieces.
This mass upgrade also helps vendors to offer new features at comparatively low cost. To exist in the market, the vendors of SaaS applications have to continuously innovate & provide to the client not only new features but better services. Thus quality improvement is an unending process in the SaaS environment.
7. Zero IT Hassles for Clients: The biggest beneficiaries of SaaS are the IT managers.
In ERP systems, vendors developed the application for clients and IT managers were primarily responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting the systems, with vendor providing technical support on the basis of SLA. This had exposed IT managers to many challenges – mainly due to lack of technical expertise on a particular ERP system. They heavily depended on vendors for simplest of troubleshooting.
SaaS, on the other hand, has relieved IT managers of the application maintenance burden, as the application is maintained by the same vendor who developed it and has ample qualified resources available for troubleshooting. The improvement in application uptime significantly improves the end-user productivity.
8. Higher Security Levels: Unlike legacy ERP, SaaS applications share resources (hardware, servers, and security solutions) for multiple customers. This enables the SaaS vendors to acquire high efficiency and high-security platforms to host applications, something which is not financially feasible for single customer (if they are not a billion-dollar company). Thus, even small and medium businesses enjoy the features that so far only big businesses could afford. This makes SaaS software a natural choice for enterprise management.
What Next: If you are looking for a usable, intuitive, configurable, collaborative, and highly secure Web 2.0 SaaS application for your human resource department, I would invite you for a demo of EmpXtrack. The founders of EmpXtrack have consistently worked on these features since the inception of the software, by involving researchers and experts to enhance SaaS factors.