10 Key Questions to Ask Before Buying a SaaS System

Looking for a new SaaS system? A simple Google search from your PC, for the words ‘SaaS’ or ‘Online Document Management’, will quickly confirm that there are an awful lot of products on offer out there. With so many to choose from how do you find the best one for you and your company? To help you decide which type of system you need, here are some questions you should ask yourself before buying.1. What is SaaS and how does it differ from traditional server-based systems?Software as a Service (SaaS) is web-based technology that you subscribe to on a rental basis, instead of buying and installing a computer system. There are many advantages to this approach, both technical and financial. For a start, it is quick and easy to set up, easy to use, and flexible across a wide range of business needs.2. What features do I need to help me run my business?The most popular SaaS products offer such features as Document Management, Project Planning, Resource Management, Time Recording, Business Intelligence Reporting, Web Publishing, User Forums and Email – but there are few services offering the full range. Make sure you find one with the full range of features, and it will give you the flexibility you need as your business grows and develops.3. Is it simple to use?Ask yourself if you are going to need to embark on an expensive and time-consuming program of re-training for yourself and your staff before you can get started. With a good SaaS service you will find that it is easy to set up and easy to use; with only minimal training and guidance you will find yourself quickly becoming familiar with the tools you use most frequently.

4. Can it grow along with my business?Make sure you choose a product that allows you the flexibility to start small and add users whenever you want, as your company develops and your requirements multiply. The best SaaS products allow you to start with just a single user, if you want to, but are perfectly capable of handling 1000s! You may also choose to start off by using just one or two features of a service – Document Management and File Sharing is a good place to start – and progress to adopting other tools, such as Project Planning and Resource Management, as your needs change. So no need to change systems when your business expands.5. Will I be tied into an expensive contract?Beware of SaaS providers who make you sign a contract for a fixed length of time. Look for a flexible service which will enable you to rent just the number of users you require, and for as long as you need.6. What about security?Look for a reputable, well-established company which will back up all your files and folders and ensure that all data transmitted via the internet is fully secure and encrypted. The IT environment should include fire protection, climate control and multiple Internet connections with a range of Internet providers, and back up all your data continuously throughout the day. That will leave you free to spend more time doing what you are good at – managing your business!7. But isn’t the Internet a dangerous place to store confidential data?You are right to be concerned about internet security issues; we have all heard a lot about problems with hackers, viruses and internet fraud. In order to benefit from the advantages of having your projects and documents online you need to ensure that they are fully protected from hardware failure or from malicious attacks. Look out for additional security features for controlling file access and permissions. This means that you can decide who you allow to access your data, and control the level of access they are granted.8.What’s so great about storing my files and folders online?With a SaaS system, all your documents and project data are stored online rather than on your company’s computer network. This means that you do not have to be in your office in order to access your business data. An online service can be accessed from anywhere in the world, 24/7. Just imagine the flexibility this could give you. Share documents, information and ideas with your clients, in their own offices. Collaborate with colleagues and team members wherever they are based. Keep in touch with your business and your projects when travelling. Just grab your laptop and go!

9. Is it cost-effective?Some SaaS systems can be expensive, but there is a world of choice out there and all that competition has created some keenly-priced services. The best will offer a comprehensive range of tools and features at an affordable price. You are also likely to lower your costs by reducing the need for expensive IT Department involvement in system installation, training, development and maintenance.10. Can I try before I buy?Don’t be rushed into paying for your new SaaS service until you have tried it out. Most reputable providers will give you a free trial for a month or so. Make sure you check out how easy it would be to change your mind and download your data to an alternative system. You should also consider what happens to your project plans and data created during your test period: ideally you should be able to continue working on all the files and folders you have already set up, without any further setup effort. You don’t want to risk losing any of your hard work and information or worse, wasting your valuable time.

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