How to run your business primarily using online tools and SaaS
Want to give your business a head start over your competition? Find out how you can save money and time using online tools and SaaS.
You know what they say? The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.
This quote applies to the business world, where many businesses look at services their business lacks and consider introducing them but always find a reason not to.
One of the biggest worries is the steep initial cost. How much money will you have to commit to get started? This means paying for licenses, onboarding, initial maintenance tasks, etc. You can do just that with the help of SaaS and online tools.
You see, instead of paying a lot for a license, with SaaS, you just pay and start using the platform as you own it (and always did). But many people still have questions:
- How does this work?
- What would be the challenges?
- Can you run your business primarily using online tools and SaaS?
Well, let’s see if we can answer at least some of these questions and put your mind at ease.
The advantages of running a digital-first business
The first major advantage of this business principle is that the model is incredibly remote-work-friendly. When you pay for the license, you usually get the number of devices that can use the platform at once or the number of client accounts you can register. This means you can register all your employees and give them access to the platform. With the right authorization, they can work from home or the office.
This is more important than you think. Sure, just 12.7% of people work from home full-time, but what about 28% more who work from home at least part-time? This is almost one-third of the workforce, which is hardly a number to trifle with.
The weight of maintenance and improvement is not on the consumer but on the company that owns the license. Since these SaaS businesses are incredibly competitive, all it takes is for a customer to cancel their subscription and subscribe elsewhere; the products are constantly developing.
This means you can look forward to the product improving after a few years of use. The development team is constantly working on it, adding features and fixing bugs.
Not only that but with increased use, they’re getting more and more feedback, which ensures that all of these upgrades are exactly what the end user (you, in this case) wants. In other words, even if the platform (in its current form) isn’t perfect, this is something to look forward to.
Only paying for what you use
Another great thing about SaaS services is that you usually only pay for what you use. Discontinuing service is so easy, and it just takes canceling a subscription.
There are also multiple plans, and you can choose the plan that fits the needs of your business. You usually pay per the number of accounts/devices that can use the tool simultaneously. This means you can adjust what you pay to the number of employees using the platform.
Just think about it: in the past, an employer had to provide all the equipment to their employees. Today, in remote work, an employee is expected to have their laptop and phone; all the employer still pays for is the software. So, imagine if they had to pay so many licenses. With SaaS, they just give their employee access to one large account (with a suitable-sized plan), and they’re done with it.
Then, you also need to consider the cost of the alternative solution. This way, you’ll get a better sense of value that you’re getting for your money. The key thing in assessing the worth of any asset lies in having a decent reference point.
For instance, instead of hiring legal aid for some of the simplest documents, you can resort to using a SaaS agreement template. By comparing the cost of doing this the old-fashioned way, you’ll get a far better sense of the value that you’re getting from these templates.
This method is not only cheaper, but it’s also more convenient and more scalable. It also makes you more self-reliable. You no longer have to wait for a response; automate this process or just handle it yourself.
In other words, SaaS is designed for a simpler cost-control of your business processes. Not only is it convenient, but it also makes your accounting a lot simpler to handle.
Integrating SaaS with all your processes
While SaaS sounds like something exclusively digital, the truth is that it has applications even in the real-world service industry (like the hospitality industry) or manufacturing.
For instance, there are various e-commerce benefits for the manufacturing industry that can help facilitate the lifecycle of a product from the assembly line all the way to the product’s delivery to the customer. By eliminating unnecessary steps and giving the manufacturer/retailer direct control during the entire process it can drastically increase the system’s reliability.
You see, there are so many processes that you have to learn to coordinate. When manufacturing and selling your products, you need to coordinate your manufacturing process (usually through an ERP platform), combine it with your e-commerce platform, and even integrate your collaboration tools. This way, you’re keeping all your activity centralized, and your executives can check what your entire team is doing simultaneously.
Manufacturing is especially sensitive since it requires coordination between your production team in the middle, your strategic vendors on one end, and your buyers on the other. The right tool can make all the difference.
The best feature of all these online tools is that their developers know how important these integrations are. They know that no enterprise will change all their tools (their project management platform, communication tools, conferencing tools, etc.) to fit this new SaaS tool. Instead, they’ll start their research by checking if the “new” tool can be integrated with the digital arsenal that they’re already using. If the answer is no, they’ll keep looking.
This incentivizes development teams to include more options and optimize integrations. Even if some tools cannot be integrated, it’s logical to expect this to change shortly. Most of these platforms are undergoing agile development, so the process never stops. Even if the product has flaws and shortcomings, it’s still not an end product.
Moreover, it’s essential to acknowledge the diversity within SaaS offerings. Beyond the mentioned tools, considerations should extend to specialized platforms such as a Google-certified CMP (Consent Management Platform) for ensuring compliance with data privacy regulations.
By carefully selecting and optimizing the use of these tools, businesses can craft a digital ecosystem that not only streamlines operations but also aligns with their unique requirements and objectives. It’s not merely about adopting SaaS but about making informed choices that empower the enterprise to thrive in the digital landscape.
Building your own digital toolkit
The next thing you need to understand is that, nowadays, there’s a SaaS tool for everything.
First of all, we’ve already mentioned ERP (enterprise resource planning) tools. If your business has too many assets and uses too many resources simultaneously, keeping track of them is quite challenging. With an ERP platform, you’ll have a much easier time integrating all the other tools that you use.
Then, you need to consider all the other integrations, some of which we’ve already mentioned. At the very least, your enterprise needs an:
- Accounting platform
- Supply chain service
- Fleet management tool
- Manufacturing hub
- Human resources software
- Communication tool
The thing is that these tools don’t come in a package. You get to choose any set of tools (you get to pick and choose which accounting platform, human resources software, and communication tool you use). This way, the digital process of your enterprise is unique and customized from the start.
In other words, while it may seem that we’re pigeonholing you by suggesting that you start using SaaS platforms, many options exist. Sure, you shouldn’t pick randomly.
For instance, when making a website, choosing a website builder (if you don’t decide to outsource it) is a major one. So, do your research. Find a “best website builders” list, pick a few that seem the best, compare them, and find what will fit your business the best.
In other words, you can pick the wrong platform or make zero effort to use it right and then accuse the SaaS model or online tools of being the wrong choice. This is an expected outcome that you should avoid at all costs.
Collaboration and communication
Online tools make collaboration so much easier. Most businesses previously shared data through their intranet connection or USBs and discs. With modern internet connection speeds, this is unnecessary.
Your team can access cloud-based platforms, and any changes and newly uploaded files are available to everyone simultaneously. Sure, this makes version control a bit more difficult, but at the same time, every time someone does something on one of these platforms, this leaves a digital footprint that’s relatively easy to follow.
You must understand one thing – this is also a security risk.
After all, you’re giving your employees access to all the different data, some very sensitive data. Some of them are going to access this data from home. Some of them will do so from a coffee place, logging into a public network. Then, some will borrow someone’s phone (potentially with a keylogger) “just to check their current tasks.”
This is why, before switching to online tools and a SaaS model, you need to spend a fair amount of time improving your team’s understanding of cybersecurity. Include this in your onboarding and pay more attention to the training.
Online tools and SaaS have so much to offer to a modern business
The main reason why these tools are used is because they’re so convenient. They’re great for the modern way of doing business, they save money, and they keep getting better with time. In other words, even if this weren’t such a great idea (which it definitely is), everyone will make this switch in a few years. Why not be an early adopter and reap the benefits?
Veteran content writer, published author, and amateur boxer. Srdjan is a Bachelor of Arts in English Language & Literature and is passionate about technology, pop culture, and self-improvement. His free time he spends reading, watching movies, and playing Super Mario Bros. with his son.