Software as a service (SaaS) is transforming how organizations of all shapes and sizes are deploying and using software (including EHS software). The IT research firm, Gartner defines SaaS as “software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics.”
In effect, SaaS is similar to leased software maintained and hosted by the vendor that created it.
There are a number of attributes that make purchasing software in a SaaS model much more advantageous that traditional owned and on-premises enterprise software. Here are 5 of the most important:
1. Lower cost of entry
One of the most important attributes of SaaS is the ability to pay for what you need without taking on large up-front costs to buy the hardware and other capital assets required to run it. Instead of having to provision internal resources to install the software, the SaaS vendor will take on the brunt of the effort required to get the solution up and running. What does that mean for you? The time to get to a working solution can drop from months in the traditional owned license model to weeks, days or in some cases even less with a SaaS model. This also means a lower strain on your internal IT resources over time, resulting in lower operating costs to go with your inexpensive software.
2. Pay as you go
SaaS software can provide your organization with the benefit of fixed and predictable costs for the tools you use. Even if your needs scale up over time, the costs you pay per user will be perpetual. This allows for much more accurate long term budget forecasting. This is especially true when you factor in the costs that can be associated with the internal IT management of software upgrades and troubleshooting issues with owned on premises software.
From an accounting standpoint, moving to a pay as you go or subscription model for your software needs also allows your organization to pay for software in a different way. SaaS allows you to say goodbye to the days of capital expenditures (CapEx) and asset depreciation and hello to the more flexible world of operating expenses (OpEx). For many organizations this allows your technology decision making to be much more agile.
3. Hassle-free maintenance
With SaaS, since the software is not internally hosted by you, but by the vendor, they will take on the responsibility of maintaining and upgrading the software. Vendors also take on the costs and overhead of ensuring that the software applications are reliable, meeting agreed-upon service level agreements, and maintaining data security and privacy.
The software vendor will manage all of these issues as part of their service agreement with you and build these value added services into the subscription price you pay. That way you can keep your internal IT staff focused on the systems they know best, rather than every specialized business application that pops up.
4. Integration and scalability
Most SaaS software applications are designed to support some degree of customization or configuration for the way you do business. SaaS vendors can offer an API which allows you to connect their software to the other applications and software tools that your business relies on. This can be everything from your ERP to CRM and even other SaaS applications.
And as you scale your usage or as your business needs change, SaaS can eliminate the need to invest in more servers and software. Simply contact your SaaS provider and adjust your company subscription.
5. Access your applications anywhere
Since SaaS software is hosted online in the cloud, your business users can access it anywhere. As long as they are connected they can access the SaaS tools they rely on. This includes logging incidents, as well as having access to historical EHS or quality data remotely. For employees on site or in the field, the ability to access the software and data when they need it can change the nature of how you approach EHS and quality altogether.