It’s one of the oldest jokes around but it sums things up nicely. A guy is up in a balloon and realises he is lost. He lowers the balloon. Spotting a man below, the bloke in the balloon asks him for directions. “Sure,’’ says the man. “You’re hovering 10 metres above this field.” “You must work in an IT department,’’ says the man in the balloon. “Yes, I do,’’ replies the man. “How did you know?” “I’ll tell you how’’ says the balloonist. “What you told me is technically correct but it’s no use to anyone.” “Oh right,’’ says the man. “You must be in management.” “Yes,’’ says the balloonist,” How did you know?” “That’s easy,’’ says the man. “You don’t know where you are and where you’re going. You’re exactly in the same position you were in before we met and you’re blaming me.”
Such are the tensions between management and IT departments.
Enter Software As A Service (SAAS) which helps management run things without making too big an investment in the IT department. Simply put, SAAS helps them run things themselves without going to IT for help. It doesn’t mean getting rid of the IT department but it frees them up to do other tasks to attend to various on-premises applications rather than ambulance chasing.
In a nutshell, it’s a system where services are managed out of the vendor’s data centre, not your IT department. It’s paid for on a subscription basis and accessed on the browser via the Internet.
There are several advantages here.
1.Saves time and money
This is probably one of the most obvious. The user doesn’t have to install or configure the service. Don’t think about it, it’s all provided as part of the service. This creates a lot more flexibility and freedom. Think of it this way. It can be accessed anywhere from any desktop and you won’t have to invest in any management to run it. And because it’s a pay as you go model, you only pay for what you use.
If the business is growing, then SAAS should definitely be on the agenda. It’s hosted externally by a vendor so there should be no problem changing the usage plan without much notice. It’s up to you to add more scope as the business expands.
This is all part of the scalability. With this sort of system, it’s easy to add applications that weren’t part of the original deployment and new users. This is important when everything is so fluid and changing.
4. Easy to use
The offerings always come with samples that can be tried out in advance to get used to it. In other words, the packages always allow you to test the software before you buy it. And they always come with many different applications to solve various business needs. All you have to do is pick and choose what works best.
5. Keeping up to date
There’s no problem getting the latest software because your updates are forced as part of the package. Instead of relying on the IT department to do the latest migration over a period of weeks or months, the vendor does it all for you.
SaaS is very much the way of the future for business. And with IT departments under constant budgetary pressures, it’s a development that would be welcomed all round. It would certainly ease the tensions.
Written by David Fastuca, Co-Founder and Chief Design Officer @ Locomote