After coaching my teenage daughter’s soccer team for 10 seasons, I have endured more sass than I had ever cared to experience.  Get a group of 18 thirteen year old girls together, and you’ll know what I mean (if you don’t run away screaming first)!

Once The Cloud became popular and I began hearing the phrase “SaaS,” I was frightened.  “What?! Now I’m going to be dealing with sass at work, too!?!”  Fortunately, I soon learned exactly what “SaaS” meant and was excited about all the great benefits Software as a Service provides.

SaaS can be simply stated as hosted business applications.
Below are three different types of Software as a Service I have found to be extremely valuable to my work and my clients’ businesses.
Office 365 is Microsoft’s online productivity solution.  Although similar to Google Docs, an advantage is found in using the standard Microsoft Office products.  Paying a monthly fee, you receive email and file storage through Microsoft tools and can choose from a number of different versions dependent on your desired level of services.  A professional accustomed to using the Office Suite will find that Office 365 is the same as far as formatting and usability – no re-learning necessary!  Because of this, the documents created in Microsoft Office will easily upload into Office 365 without compromising the layout, formatting, and quality of the original file.
Freedom Mail Security, provided by SolutionWorx, uses The Cloud to deliver email security to our users.  This product filters out unwanted emails, protects against malware and viruses, whitelists and blacklists addresses, and more.  (See “Restoring Confidence in Email” Article) Using an SaaS to guard your email may prove to be one of your most valuable Cloud investments.  We feel so strongly about the benefits of mail security in The Cloud that we provide it to all of our Freedom Plus and Pro clients.
Bill.com is another good example of an excellent SaaS application.  Providing a secure application that boosts productivity and integrates with your on-premise accounting system is a win-win. (See “Streamline Your Accounts Payable” Articl)
As with anything in life, there are two sides to every coin.  Despite all the rewards of a beneficial SaaS, there are always factors to consider when it comes to determining if an SaaS is right for you.
Operating vs. Capital Expenses
For most businesses it is easier to absorb a lower monthly operating cost rather than a large one-time capital expense.  However, budgeting the operating expense for the lifetime of the use of the solution might be significantly more than the one-time capital expense even if you include financing and management of the solution.  It’s not easy to compare apples to apples, but it is a worthwhile task when analyzing own versus rent options.
Mobility
If your business is on-the-go and you do most of your work remotely through wireless access, an SaaS solution may not be the best fit for your business.  For example, rather than just pulling up a document on your laptop or tablet to work on, you would need to access the internet to work on a document in Google Docs.  This would use up data on your wireless plan (or aircard) or leave you dependent on a worksite with free WiFi.
Flexibility
Oftentimes, SaaS is limited in its ability to be customized.  This may not be a problem initially, but the more you use an application, the more you may discover that you need modifications or adjustments.  You may also run into problems if an SaaS fails to integrate properly with other applications.
As with any business decision, be certain to speak with an expert to understand and fully evaluate the scope, advantages, and disadvantages of any purchase.  That way you will hopefully avoid any surprises and maximize your utilization of the product.  We would be happy to discuss The Cloud with you and recommend SaaS applications that are right for your specific business needs!