6 Steps to Creating a Cloud-Based SaaS Application
What exactly is a SaaS application?
Software as a service (SaaS), which was a relatively new strategy a decade ago, is today one of the biggest software developments in the world. If SaaS is appropriate for a variety of industries, including retail, banking, advertising, healthcare, and travel, it can be the perfect fit for your company.
If you want to create a SaaS application but don't know where to begin, you've come to the correct spot. In this essay, we will:
Explain what SaaS apps are and their benefits
Step-by-step outline the process of developing a SaaS application
Highlight key considerations while developing your software services app
Estimate the cost of developing a cloud-based SaaS app
Let us begin with the fundamentals...
What exactly is SaaS software?
SaaS, or software as a service, is a business model that differs from traditional software licensing. Manufacturers don't sell their applications with a perpetual license or wait until the next year's edition to offer feature upgrades when using the SaaS method for technology delivery and maintenance. Companies instead advertise their software and services (thus the term), generally through a subscription model.
Because these programs are stored on the cloud, they do not need to be actually downloaded on a user's computer. An example best illustrates the distinction between SaaS as well as on software.
SaaS versus on-premises software
Consider Adobe Photoshop, a prominent program that transitioned from a software distribution approach to the SaaS model in 2012. You've undoubtedly seen Photoshop in motion if you deal with visual creators. Adobe Photoshop, like numerous other products, was once sold to users for a one-time fee. After paying, the customer was given a key that allowed them to use a particular version of Photoshop indefinitely.
However, if you try to purchase the current edition of Photoshop from Adobe's website today, you'll immediately find that's not how Adobe distributes its industry-leading program to customers. Instead of paying a large upfront fee for an each product license, Adobe consumers must subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud on a monthly basis.
For example, the monthly Photography plan, which includes Photoshop and Lightroom access, starts at $9.99 per month, whereas the last edition of Photoshop accessible with a lifelong license started at $700.
Why would getting a monthly subscription be better than getting a lifetime license? To start off, $10 a month is a budget-friendly amount for a variety of people, including students. Second, a $10 monthly membership for $700 would last for almost six years. Lastly, you have the option to revoke your monthly subscription at any time. Customers won't regret buying the product that they won't completely utilize as a result if they no longer need a service.
Another key advantage of SaaS systems, such as Adobe's, is the possibility for consumers to evaluate a product's capabilities for free.
Now, let us look at some of the additional benefits that cloud-based apps provide to their subscribers and owners.
Benefits of SaaS products
In the previous part, we stated one of the significant SaaS benefits for users. There are many more, and cloud - based owners gain from offering software and services as well.
SaaS benefits for consumers and app owners
SaaS Advantages for Users
In order to achieve cost of cloud apps, consumers may benefit from SaaS products' accessibility, rapid and frequent upgrades, scalability, and dependability.
Accessibility. After signing in, cloud-based site apps are available from any device, anywhere in the globe. Users merely require a reliable internet connection to function properly with SaaS apps.
Real-time and scheduled updates. While users of mobile and desktop apps must still download new software updates to receive upgrades, SaaS online apps offer a significant benefit. Apps that operate on the web are automatically updated, so customers don't even realize how and when apps are updated – they always have access to the most recent version of the software.
Scalability. Users can change their subscription in a few steps if their needs change. Downgrades are also simple.
Reliability. A cloud is a computer network placed all over the world. Even if one of the servers fails, the program will continue to function.
Advantages of launching a SaaS app
If you're thinking about developing a SaaS application, you've undoubtedly considered the advantages of the SaaS business model. Let us go through them all to have a better idea of what SaaS application development can do for you.
The ability to penetrate a developing market. Given the benefits that software as a service can give to consumers, it is no surprise that the SaaS business is expanding. As according BetterCloud, the SaaS share of the market will grow in the following years, with SaaS accounting for 85 percent of corporate apps by 2025.
The ability to recruit a big number of clients. This is a natural extension of the prior advantage. The more firms who desire to convert to SaaS apps, the greater your prospects of attracting a large audience. Furthermore, low-cost subscription models make software accessible even for young firms with limited resources.
Consistent and long-term revenue. Subscriptions are a very constant source of revenue for SaaS providers under the SaaS model. This allows them to plan & execute frequent development initiatives that keep their consumers satisfied and subscribed.
Despite all of the benefits that SaaS provides for company owners and platform users, it is vital to remember that software as a service doesn't really work for all enterprises. Let's look at which apps operate well with the SaaS model.
SaaS Application Types
While the SaaS industry is expanding, the SaaS marketing strategy is not a panacea for all businesses. For instance, if you provide one-time services to your consumers, SaaS is not the solution since your users will not pay a monthly cost for a one-time activity. SaaS is ideal for users who require the usage of an application on a daily basis.
It is worth noting that the SaaS model may be used effectively for both company (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) browser services. Let us have a look at some examples.
B2B SaaS application examples
The SaaS business model is frequently used in the B2B sector. Here are a few examples of apps that can successfully use this model.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are online apps that run in the cloud and have a number of modules to automate and improve internal business processes. ERPs are substantial software applications that feature numerous features, including finance, HR, CRM, and inventory management. The most well names in Erp system is Oracle Cloud ERP.
Project management software
You've undoubtedly heard of Jira and Trello, two of the most well-known project management applications in the world. Companies may successfully manage daily business procedures with cloud-based SaaS applications.
Tools for collaboration
Collaboration tool adoption surged 322 percent in 2020 over 2019 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the spring of 2020, companies that have been unable to conduct their everyday operations offline have turned to apps like Google Workspace, Zoom, and Slack as vital sources of effective communication.
Software for marketing
Marketing is an engine that pushes customers to a firm and is critical to its growth. Businesses may use social media marketing (SMM) tools and marketing advanced analytics to simplify their marketing activities and measure results in order to enhance their market position.
B2C SaaS application examples
Cloud-based apps serve individuals all around the world for a variety of reasons, including entertainment and education.
Services for streaming
Netflix is a streaming service that lets people across the world to view movies and TV series on any device. Spotify is another prominent streaming service that operates on the SaaS approach. By subscribing to Spotify, consumers have access to music from thousands of artists in dozens of genres, all in one spot, which is considerably cheaper and quicker than purchasing each album separately.
The SaaS model is also used by several online learning programs to market their services. Duolingo, for example, provides customers with two programs to select from: free and Plus. A Plus subscription includes additional features such as commercial content, unrestricted platform access, and mastery quizzes. Subscription plans are available on several online education sites. Coursera, for example, provides access to the entire library for $59 a month, which is affordable for avid learners who can pick any courses they like and even earn internationally recognized certificates.
If you want to establish one of the SaaS systems described above or anything similar, you'll need to go through a six-step bespoke software development process.
SaaS app creation in six steps
Because of the cloud-based nature of SaaS apps, it is critical to follow six processes to construct a popular product: strategy, a discovery phase, design phase, architectural design, programming and implementation, and maintenance and further development.
Steps for Creating a SaaS Application
Step 1. Planning
Proper planning is the foundation for developing a successful application. The performance of a SaaS application is dependent not only on the use of the correct technology, but also on doing extensive market research, examining the intended audience, defining the purpose of your app, and considering the essential features. This is the first thing you should do while considering SaaS app development.
While planning is often the duty of a stakeholder, you might seek assistance from your development partner. An expert IT firm will give you with business analysis (BA) services to investigate your case and present you with the finest options for entering and developing in the chosen market.
Step 2. Phase of discovery
During the exploration phase, you will structure your ideas for SaaS application development and prepare a slew of papers that will assist your development team in building the software you desire. During the discovery stage of a project, a BA will schedule multiple meetings to learn about the specifics of your venture and will prepare documentation such as:
Software specification document (SRS) represents cloud application needs; outlines the features your SaaS application will have as well as technical requirements (such as app architecture and dependencies), project objectives, user groups, scope of work, and so on.
Risk prevention and control plan — a forecast of the hazards you could face when constructing your cloud-based Saas platform, as well as strategies for mitigating those risks.
Feature breakdown list — a table including all of the features you wish to add in your SaaS platform, as well as time estimates for their implementation.
Cost estimates — a table including an anticipated budget for SaaS app development.
This documents are only a portion of the outputs you will get throughout the discovery process. Furthermore, at this stage, a BA assists you in defining the best development team architecture to construct your SaaS platform within the budget and timetable you have set.
Step 3. Application design
When it comes to internet app design, you must consider the interface (UI) and the user experience (UX). Before developing a cloud-based SaaS application, it is critical to choose the interface so that it completely fulfills the demands of your target audience.
Think about what platforms your intended audience will use when designing your SaaS platform's usability and user experience. SaaS apps are compatible with both PCs and mobile devices. A UI/UX expert will create designs for devices of various resolutions so that your users can work comfortably at the office, at school, or on the go.
Step 4. Architecture design
The foundation of an effective outcome that satisfies the technical requirements of stakeholders is the software architecture.
Because SaaS design is cloud-based, databases, storage, and services are hosted in the cloud rather than on physical servers. Amazon Web Services is the most common choice for developing cloud-based architecture (AWS). While there are numerous AWS options, Clockwise Software experts choose Amazon Web Services for our clients' projects. We like this cloud service for a variety of reasons.
Flexibility. AWS allows software engineers to access more than 200 services that are available on both Linux and Windows. Almost every database and computer language are available to developers.
Scalability. Amazon Web Services provides scalability out of the box. App owners may grow their apps with a few clicks. Because of AWS's pay-as-you-go business model, downscaling is also feasible. This implies that consumers only pay for services that they use.
Security. AWS, the world's leading company in cloud-based services, provides excellent data security to consumers. AWS is the top choice both for engineers and businesses due to its secure data centres and encryption options.
Pricing. We have noted that AWS has a pay-as-you-go mechanism, which prevents consumers from overpaying as their businesses grow. Furthermore, AWS provides free packages that allow small firms to develop strong cloud-based apps at a low cost.
Regardless of whether you use AWS or another provider for your SaaS project, a computer programer should be in charge of developing your high-level architecture design. The design describes the components and relationships of your program and serves as the foundation for future development.
Step 5. Development and testing
While the other steps to establishing cloud apps may not appear evident, this one is straightforward and does not require much explanation. SaaS developers are working on front end and back end of your application at this stage. Simultaneously, quality assurance (QA) experts ensure that each component of functionality functions properly – both in solitude and as part of a larger system.
It is vital to note that development and testing are iterative in software design, especially if we are talking about a SaaS firm. SaaS developers do not create the entire application at once. They often begin with a minimal viable product (MVP) that comprises only the most necessary elements to fulfill your target audience's fundamental demands. After they construct and deploy a SaaS platform MVP, you may collect feedback from early adopters and decide which one to enhance and which new ones to develop.
This incremental method to change is known as Agile, and it is popular in software development, particularly among startups.
Deployment is the final step in the iterative development process. The method of producing an MVP version of a cloud-based SaaS service available to end customers is known as deployment. A DevOps professional or another team member with relevant knowledge prepares all components of the new code for deployment and integrates the complete codebase into production during this step.
Step 6. App upkeep and development
Once the MVP is available to users, concentrate your efforts on evaluating its performance. During this process, you should collect user input, evaluate it, determine what can be improved, and identify what additional features your users require. At the same time, SaaS engineers on your team may assist you in fixing existing faults and planning future functionality.
It is now time to discuss items you should be conscious of before beginning to construct your SaaS application.
Things to consider while designing a SaaS application
SaaS app creation is a difficult and lengthy process that demands a great deal of responsibility, therefore you should consider some crucial factors before beginning to design your cloud application.
Picking a technological stack for your Software application is like choosing construction materials for a home. Your technology stack is what is utilized to construct and run your web app.
First, you'll need numerous tools to build the platform's client-facing components. These are well-known and practically ubiquitous:
HTML + CSS
There are a number of programming languages (and accompanying frameworks) to select from for server-side development:
Ruby (Ruby on Rails)
Because SaaS apps are built on cloud computing, cloud services are required for the development of this sort of app. As previously stated, AWS services are an excellent solution for assuring the reliable functioning of cloud-based applications. AWS is the greatest choice for creating SaaS apps, with more than 200 tools, scalability options, and an emphasis on security.
Some of the AWS technologies we use in our projects include AWS S3, AWS KMS, and DocumentDB.
S3 is a file storage service that allows app owners to store big volumes of data at a low cost.
AWS KMS is a system that helps to manage and encrypt/decrypt keys for various services.
DocumentDB is a fast non-relational database used to store metadata.
One of the unique features of cloud-based Application programs is that the SaaS architecture can be single-tenant or multi-tenant.
The number of tenants who share the same dataset, software instance, and computing resources is indicated by the term "tenancy" in service ( saas ) model applications. A tenant in this scenario is any business using the SaaS application.
While each tenant in a single-tenant architecture has their own, several tenants may share the same database, computing power, and app infrastructure in a multi-tenant structure. The ideal architecture for you will be determined by your needs and specifications. You will receive help from a business analyst and a software architect in deciding which tenancy model is ideal for your firm.
Your platform's pricing approach may make or ruin your online app. Though there are no hard and fast price rules, as the SaaS business model has matured, various viable pricing techniques have emerged.
Customers can select between complimentary and fee-based features using the freemium approach. The most common case is that an app's core features appeal to the largest possible audience and cast a wide net. By providing an enhanced set of features for a one-time or recurring fee, you must convert free users to paid (or "premium") consumers in order to generate money with such an app. For instance, Evernote offers cross-device syncing and free note-taking. To sync with more devices and keep more data in the cloud, you may need to pay. Duolingo also uses this pricing strategy, as was already mentioned.
The pay as you go model works as follows: the more features people require, the more they pay. This strategy works well with software businesses like Amazon, who charge customers based on the amount of API queries their app delivers to the server in a given period of time. SMM platforms and accountancy applications may also be marketed in this manner: the price is determined by the number of scheduled posts or produced invoices.
Tiered pricing tries to provide multiple packages for consumers based on their demands and budget. The premise behind this price strategy is identical to the last one: the more features your clients utilize, the more they pay. However, because you give monthly subscriptions, your revenue is more predictable. HubSpot employs tiered pricing by offering three packages – beginning, professional, and enterprise – to organizations with varying needs.
What are the expenses of SaaS development?
Obviously, these prices vary depending on the product's complexity, functionality, selected SaaS technology, interfaces with other services, and other factors.
Additionally, you need to be very selective about the nation in which you hire expert developers. The cost and level of quality of your product will depend on this. For instance, you might anticipate paying between $150 and $250 per hour if you hire SaaS software engineers from an UK company. Companies in South America or Asia may bill between $15 and $70 per hour.
Prices in Europe are highly variable. West European outsourcing markets are more expensive, with hourly fees averaging between $60 and $120. Developers from Eastern Europe frequently bill from $40 and $80 per hr. It's a great deal to outsource web application development to South Africa.
You will spend at least $45,000 building a simple SaaS MVP with an Eastern European company. With a company from this region, a fully functional web app may cost over $100,000, yet even at that price, it is still less expensive to build the same thing than it would with a company based in North America.
Although not every business problem can be solved by cloud apps, the SaaS model has become more and more common because of the advantages it offers to both customers and application developers. In order to do business with a high-quality product, you must be prepared for a six-step developmental continuum if you decide to create a SaaS platform.