What to Look for in SaaS Products for Your Small Business

The SaaS industry is vast - an estimated $121 billion-plus market - so while small businesses might have a world of choices, selecting what fits your needs can make for a huge undertaking.

Here's a quick breakdown of SaaS, including benefits and a look-see of popular products used by small businesses.

What is SaaS and its Benefits?

SaaS, or Software as a Service, is a way of delivering software applications over the internet. 

In a nutshell, SaaS gives you access to on-demand software products without your business installing, running, and maintaining them on your PCs or data centers (in the case of bigger companies). Some of the more well-known examples of these services include Salesforce, Zoom, Dropbox, ZenDesk, and Google Workspace.

The SaaS provider functions as a host, housing the software on its servers and is responsible for providing access, security features, IT support, and performance during its use. And the user can access the software on almost any device, most typically via web browsers.

"SaaS customers usually pay a subscription fee— often monthly — to access the application," explains a post on Data Insider.

"Some subscriptions are based upon how much data needs to be stored, the number of users who will access the application, or the level of technical support desired," writes Chris Brook, editor of Data Insider, the blog site for data loss prevention software company Digital Guardian. 

Explosive Market

The global SaaS market in 2020 was estimated at $121.33 billion, and it's forecasted to reach $702.19 billion by 2030, according to a report by Allied Market Research (AMR).

The report says that the market and predicted growth may be due to the rapid increase in demand for cloud-based SaaS to support businesses during the pandemic, extensive adoption of public and hybrid cloud SaaS, and increased use of smartphones and app-based services.

"Growing demand among businesses for a single solution to help them solve business problems propels growth of the SaaS market," says AMR, a market research and advisory company of Allied Analytics LLP.

"Companies use SaaS Platform software, which integrates a variety of applications such as customer relationship management (CRM), business intelligence, supply chain management, and e-commerce systems and can be customized for specific business needs and deployed across corporate networks on a variety of cloud platforms."

SaaS Benefits

Proponents of SaaS say businesses get many benefits, including flexibility, compared to traditional, locally-hosted software products.

"By hosting business software applications in the cloud, SaaS can help improve your organization's efficiency, effectiveness, and collaboration across locations," says a post by CDW, an IT solutions company that operates in the US, UK, and Canada.

Another oft-cited benefit is the budget ability factor. Since SaaS subscriptions are usually offered on a pay-as-you-go model with a recurring monthly or annual fee, businesses can better manage costs and predict future budgeting needs.

Shopping for SaaS

The best SaaS deals for your business ultimately depend on your company - what you need to accomplish and other criteria, such as users and budget.   

Vartika Kashyap, chief marketing officer at ProofHub, advises businesses to create a simple outline of those needs, etc., then evaluate their options to narrow the search accordingly.

"Do this and you will surely be able to discover your greatest bang for the buck' opportunity," she writes in a blog for ProofHub, a project planning software company.

Popular SaaS Uses

SaaS applications handle just about every function of running a business, from running content and product management software to intelligence software.

"Small- to medium-sized businesses are the ideal users of SaaS, especially if their business processes are fairly straightforward," explains the CDW post.

As far as content management, "the no-code platforms simply make SaaS easier than ever to create," says Marius Vetrici, CEO of WPRiders, a North Carolina-based company that builds websites, digital platforms, and custom plugins.

"SaaS products have various use cases for B2B and B2C clients, including automating tasks, streamlining business workflows, adding new functionalities or providing an alternative to expensive custom-coded options," he says in a Forbes Technology Council post about 2022 WordPress trends.

Other popular SaaS applications for small businesses include software products for email marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), accounting, billing and invoices, business intelligence, web hosting, collaboration, and HR.

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