Every company needs a certain IT infrastructure to support its business model and operations. This can vary greatly depending on the industry, size and offering. However, the search for a suitable tool can be long and arduous. More and more providers are joining the ranks, there is a specialised tool for almost every requirement and many decisions have to be made. SaaS consulting can be helpful here to clear the jungle a little. But before such a SaaS consultation, it seems useful to get to know some basic background on SaaS, functionalities and two important points to consider.
Software as a Service is one of a whole host of "aaS" terms: There is IaaS, iPaaS, PaaS or even XaaS - Everything as a Service. The entire market for SaaS is growing steadily and there are countless providers of such tools with very different functionalities. The term "as a service" refers to software or similar that is cloud-based.
In addition to the cloud function that software-as-a-service delivers, SaaS is more of a business model. The application is provided to the user in the browser and often runs on a subscription model. Users can usually choose from different tariffs with different scope and functionalities. This business model differs from the on-premise offers, which often required a purchase of the software with a subsequent installation on site.
This means that companies no longer need to run applications on their own computers or in their own data centres. Only an internet connection is needed.
Cloud-based is the opposite of on-premise. In contrast to an on-premise system, a cloud system does not have to be installed on local devices such as a PC, laptop or mobile device. It is used via the browser. This results in several advantages:
Time saving: The software is already installed and configured, no hardware purchases or controlled installations are necessary.
Automatic synchronisation of data: All important information is available to all users at the same time.
Independence: The entire team can access the platform regardless of location and time. Especially when the latest data is needed on the road, for example in sales, it can be viewed quickly.
Scaling: Cloud systems are expandable at the click of a button, making them hugely scalable and growing with your business
Integration: SaaS tools are usually ideally suited to be connected with other apps. We emphasise this advantage in the following.
So SaaS is specifically about software. However, the term software is very broad and the SaaS industry is growing and growing. Whether project management, ERP, marketing, CRM, newsletter mailing or human resources, there are countless SaaS tools for all areas. The trend of the past years and decades is clear: for the past 20 years, more and more companies have been founded every year that pursue a SaaS business model. And the industry's turnover is growing, of course.
There is a suitable software-as-a-service for almost every function of a company:
By far the largest SaaS company is Salesforce. Salesforce offers a comprehensive CRM with its own exclusive agencies that are entirely dedicated to implementing and developing Salesforce in and for companies.
Another SaaS company that might be familiar to many is Shopify. Shopify is a shop SaaS that makes it much easier for users to launch, manage and scale their own shop.
Workday is a software-as-a-service that specialises in human capital management and financial management and is also one of the largest companies in the industry.
One of the key advantages of SaaS is the ease of scaling and integration. But what exactly does that mean?
On the one hand, the subscription model of many providers described above can accompany and map the growth of the company step by step. For example, if more team members join, the subscription can be extended and more users can be activated. All it takes is one click and the new colleagues enjoy exactly the same functions as all the others - without installation.
On the other hand, most SaaS tools offer a possibility for integration. In this way, the application can be linked to other tools, saving valuable time that can be used elsewhere. So-called "APIs" are used for this. APIs are programming interfaces provided by the software. They are already taken into account during the development of the software and enable integration and automation. What exactly an API is and what API integration means can be read here. Why is this technology so important?
It's likely that a SaaS tool like Salesforce is not the only software you use in your business. There are other applications for mailing, accounting, website or internal communication. And much of the data used there is also used elsewhere.
On your website there is a simple form with a few fields that your visitors can fill out. This is then sent to you by e-mail in a completely unformatted form. You then open your CRM, add the relevant information and send the person an email with the next steps. In order to track the whole process and not lose any leads, you also enter the date of the communication in your CRM. A few days later you notice that the person has not responded. You see in the CRM that the last contact was 5 days ago and decide to send a second reminder email afterwards.
That's quite a lot of steps for a single person. As more and more people join in, that's many minutes every day spent mainly copying and pasting and jumping back and forth between different applications.
But what if all steps could run automatically? Exactly that is possible: If all programmes, emails (e.g. Office365 or GMail), the CRM and the website (e.g. Wordpress) have an API, all three can be integrated, i.e. linked with each other. In this way, the form is automatically processed in the future, transferred to your CRM, an automatic yet personalised email is sent and you automatically receive feedback if the person has not responded after 5 days.
This process is also completely independent of the number of people: Whether one or 100 visitors fill out the form every day - the process is stable and always runs the same.
So integrating your SaaS is essential to not only enjoy the benefits of a cloud-based platform, but also to streamline your operations and save so much time.
Scaling and integration are two points to be aware of and to ask for in a SaaS consultancy. The SaaS market is huge, but knowing these two factors can make it easier to choose a suitable tool.
Before taking any SaaS advice, you can also ask yourself the following questions to further narrow down your choices:
For which area do I need new software?
Is an existing tool to be replaced (keyword data migration) or is it a new acquisition?
What is my core business?
What other tools do I work with most often?
What existing IT infrastructure do I have? How does the SaaS tool fit into it?
The path to the perfect software can be long and arduous, but it doesn't have to be. If your requirements are clearly worked out and you pay attention to the right points as well as consult a sound SaaS consultancy, an individual and thus optimal solution can be found for your company. We are happy to support you in the analysis and subsequent automation of business processes, explain possibilities and individually address the business processes.
Cloud Integration, iPaaS, SaaS, BPA… Ough, hard to keep track of all these terms. They are currently used frequently (and increasingly) in the context of automation, and it is sometimes difficult to make a clear distinction and distinction. We have already written blog posts on the terms iPaaS, SaaS and BPA, but we’ll take them up again here to make the difference.
But let’s start with cloud integration, because that’s the central umbrella term in which we embed all the other technologies in this blog post.
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To illustrate these advantages, an example is suitable that we know well from our everyday work as an automation agency:
The central data to be used here is the data of a major customer. This can be the simplest information, such as the address. This address is required in numerous but completely different processes in the company: on the one hand, for correct invoicing in accounting. On the other hand, in the CRM system, where all the data of the large customer is also stored. But the address is also important in sales, for example, when employees go to the sales meeting on site.
Now the customer announces that the address of the company has changed after a move. This information will reach you by e-mail. There are now two options:
01. The e-mail is forwarded to all affected departments, accounting, sales, customer service, marketing… All persons open their corresponding program, CRM, accounting software, marketing tools (such as newsletter marketing) and change the data already stored there of the customer. This means that in multiple applications, different people do exactly the same thing: change one address.
02. But there is also an alternative: By connecting your applications, thus by integrizing them, the customer’s e-mail, or rather the information it contains about the address change, is automatically passed on to all affected applications: CRM, accounting, marketing, ERP. This does not require any clicks, because the cloud integration detects a trigger, i.e. address change, and thus automatically starts the process.
What sounds unimpressive in a single process becomes more effective when such a process occurs several times a day or weekly. Because there is a lot of data that is available in different applications and should always be correct. If these applications are cloud applications they are suitable for cloud integration.
But cloud integration doesn’t just happen. There are now a variety of applications that enable and implement this. Such tools usually allow us to link the relevant cloud applications on a central platform and define clear rules on when, how, where, how much data should be passed on and what happens to them.
To realize cloud integration, there are various applications and technologies that are sometimes used interchangeably.
We have made a first distinction between iPaaS and BPA here.
We explain the term SaaS in more detail here.
Cloud integration is rather an umbrella term that includes numerous technologies, such as SaaS, iPaaS and BPA, and this is also absolutely necessary. Cloud integration is a concept that is made possible by appropriate technologies.
However, all terms share the commonality that they are cloud-based and thus offer enormous potential for growth and scaling. In addition, they are often cheaper to implement and maintain because changed requirements are easy to implement.
As an independent automation agency, we implement cloud integration according to your requirements. We use a variety of SaaS tools and iPaas (strictly speaking BPA) software. Together we find individual solutions that are flexible and scalable.