Most businesses will lease a photocopier rather than purchase to own an asset that will quickly devalue, yet when it comes to software many companies are still paying upfront purchase costs and buying entire software packages for every staff member they have – and buying extras when you staff come on board. In even a small business trying to keep track of all the software installs is almost a full time job, particularly if you then have to monitor who has extra installs on laptops or home computers, making sure that the software is deregistered before hardware is upgraded, and ensuring that software is available for a new staff member after an old staff member has left.
Thankfully, just as you do not need to purchase your big-ticket office equipment, many software developers are moving to a SaaS model.
Software As A Service
With SaaS options your business only needs to purchase software that it actually needs at the time. Additionally, the software is generally hosted in the cloud, meaning that your staff can access it anytime, anywhere. For those in the insurance industry companies like Scheme Serve are leading the way with cloud based, customer driven SaaS software. While those in creative industries will already be familiar with the subscription-based options provided by Adobe.
One of the biggest advantages to using a subscription-based software model rather than the more traditional ‘you buy it, you own it’ model is that you are always up to date with the latest versions. As new technology is developed the software you have can quickly become outdated. While with SaaS options, you will find new updates are released quite regularly, ensuring that you are always at the head of the game. This is particularly important in industries like insurance and law, where changes in legislation can affect your software solutions. Templates that are based on specific acts and statutes need to ensure accuracy if those acts or statues are updated or amended. If you are running in-house templates based on an old Microsoft Office Word template, making a single amendment can take days, and is still prone to be missed by the people who have saved a version on their local machine and only ever use that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_as_a_service
Another unexpected way that moving to this model of software is that, as it is all cloud based, there are no endless CD or DVD installs – which means that when you upgrade your hardware you can save by not having to include a DVD drive. This is a great advantage for those that need to have their laptop as a portable machine, as it also decreases the weight of the laptop quite a lot.
Of course, using a cloud-based system also means that you will have access to your information using mobile solutions. However, you will need to ensure that the software will perform on a mobile phone, as some providers have designed their software to run most efficiently on a desktop and have not made a version that will function on a smaller device. Thankfully, most will have a responsive version that will at least allow for basic functionality when you’re on the run.
Training & Travel
If you have a mobile workforce, whether they are working remotely around the world, or just spend a lot of the day out of the office, trying to coordinate a training session to ensure that everyone knows how to use any new software can be a logistics nightmare.
Despite the best efforts and intentions of everyone, there will always be at least one person who has a last-minute change in schedule and won’t be able to attend.
With a SaaS install you will usually find that they are able to also provide remote training sessions, or excellent online training videos. This means that your staff can learn the tips and tricks for learning how to use their newly installed software at a time that suits them – often when they’re frustrated at trying to do something.
Also speak to your software provider and find out what their level of customer service provides. If you need help with installation, upgrades or training you want to ensure that you will be able to access someone who can help.
With a modular system your staff can be trained on the aspects they actually need to know – and your trainer will know exactly what they are. This means that you’re not wasting time learning about bits of the software solution that no one will ever need or use.
One of the other great things about a SaaS model of software is that they are normally very modular (what this means). This means that you only pay for what you actually need. If you are an insurance broker who works in a niche market you have probably found yourself paying for a whole lot of software that you don’t need, don’t use, and certainly don’t want. With a subscription software service, you can pick and choose until you have a system that fits your requirements, and only the things that fit your requirements. If you hire a specialist broker who adds other skills or expertise to your firm, you can add individual modules that can work with their requirements.
You may need lots of bells and whistles, but you should only pay for the ones you actually want.