Software as a Service (SaaS) providers have been around for a few years now but some of the benefits are still no widely known. If you do a Google search, you’ll see lots of information: pros and cons*. For children’s activity centers of all sizes, SaaS just makes sense because of the benefits! This post concentrates on benefits that are critical to you as studio, school, gym and center owners.
What is the Cloud? The cloud is simply a trendy way to talk about a network or remote servers that can be accessed via an Internet connection to store and manage data.
Believe it or not, the name “cloud” was actually inspired by the cloud symbol that is often used to represent the Internet in flowcharts and diagrams.
Now, let’s define SaaS: The acronym stands for Software as a Service meaning this is software licensed and delivered on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. Sometimes referred to as “on-demand software,” SaaS is typically accessed by users using a thin client via a web browser. Basically, SaaS is leased software.
Because of the cloud, SaaS companies can offer business tremendous, game-changing benefits – and unrivaled efficiencies.
Reduce the cost of technology.
This saves you money because you no longer have to purchase licensed software that is installed on your computer. SaaS companies offer subscription based access to software – hence the name because you don’t buy and own the software but use the web-based software just like you use other services (i.e. cable TV, security monitoring). You also have more flexible payment options with SaaS companies. Many even offer pricing incentives to purchase on an annual basis, offer pay-as-you go models or package/ tier pricing so that you can set a monthly software budget and stick to it.
You never have to patch, update or upgrade your software since it is maintained by the company that hosts it and provides it to you as a service. This also makes it possible for SaaS companies to enhance their software more often since they only have to apply those enhancements in a single place – their own servers.
Use what the big guys use.
More is accessible to small businesses than ever before. SaaS companies can offer pricing that enables even the one-man show powerful tools for automating, operating, understanding and growing his business – so that he one-day soon will add other employees. The same features and functionality that used to be expensive even for large organizations is made affordable because you’re only paying for the use of – and not ownership of – a program.
Try before you buy.
The demo and free trial were virtually impossible for software companies to offer before the cloud made the SaaS format possible. Today, it’s simple to do and most companies use this as a way for potential customers to really get a handle on how the software will work for their organization – without ever making a payment. Since your free trial isn’t just on your computer, it’s likely that you would be able to transition directly to being a customer by simply providing a credit card since the trial service IS the real service – with just a couple of fixed parameters that disappear upon purchase.
You could do valuable software comparisons in today’s SaaS world that would have been impossible before – and you can test them all without paying a dime.
Rapidly see value.
Once your choice is made, the deployment of your software is an about face from the installs of licensed software. One-click downloads and set-up wizards and virtual support help most customers to do a DIY version of their “deployment” – if you could even call it that. The time it takes for you to begin to get value from your software is negligible. SaaS solutions allow you to put growth accelerating activities in place sooner, give you greater agility to challenge competitors (even market leaders) and use tools that establish your business with professionalism and integrity – from the get-go.
Reduce risks to your data.
Because all of your data and the software you use isn’t just sitting on a PC in your office, it is much more secure. Even if you kept your computer under lock and key, you could never provide the level of security that the typical SaaS company enlists to protect and maintain the integrity and availability of its service to you. Such protective systems as encryption, retinal scanners, climate-controlled facilities and unparalleled IT expertise are too expensive for even the larger children’s activity center to consider paying for alone.
Your entire team works smarter.
Regardless of where they are when they need to, your team can access your SaaS tools and data as if they were in the office since they merely need a laptop or mobile device and Internet connection. It allows a virtual work force to do much more than exist – but to actually thrive. SaaS solutions allow your team to get down to business without having to worry about infrastructure, computer set-up and installations. Focus can be solely on your business – or more specifically – your students.
Jackrabbit – and other class management software companies – offer their software systems as a service in a SaaS model. Learn more about Jackrabbit’s solution benefits and features.
*There is a complete chart available at this link, provided by a trusted software consulting group that lays out the general pros and cons of SaaS vs. On-Site Software Deployments.