A Step-by-Step Guide for Complete SaaS Product Development Process
- By Shira Gray
Software as a Service or SaaS which also goes by the name of cloud-based software is a software delivery model that has recently gained much popularity because of its conveniences.
With SaaS product development, there is no need for painful installations or strict contracts, you can directly access the applications using a web browser. Also, there is no need to pay for the product all at once, you can do it over time. All these reasons make SaaS application development flexible and affordable enough for businesses around the world.
You can imply the Software as a Service product development process to build eCommerce stores, CRM solutions, HR solutions, project management, and many more. Such factors make a SaaS development company an excellent service provider and that explains why they are in high demand nowadays. Here, in this guide, we are going to discuss how to build a SaaS product but first of all let us understand what a SaaS application is, how many types of SaaS apps there are and what are their advantages.
What is a SaaS application?
A SaaS application is an application that you can use over the internet, without downloading it. Because it uses the cloud-based platform, you can access it from anywhere and at any time. The apps and services are delivered using cloud computing.
These are what we call ‘soft’ software applications that allow you to manage your business processes through a web browser or mobile app. You can also use these soft applications to run marketing campaigns, manage suppliers and customers, or even manage your own IT infrastructure.
The SaaS model has become popular among startups because it provides an opportunity to launch a product without having to invest in building it from scratch. Moreover, using this model also makes it easier to scale up your business as you don't have to worry about managing servers and installation problems.
Types of SaaS applications
Before building a SaaS application, you must know how many types of SaaS products are used, and which ones are you going to need. The following are some common types of SaaS applications:
- Marketing automation: Marketing automation is a type of software that utilizes technology to automate marketing processes and deliver personalized messages to customers in real-time. Marketing automation tools help companies increase their sales by reaching more prospects and converting more customers into buyers.
- CRM (customer relationship management): CRM software helps marketing teams better manage customer interactions, such as surveys, lead follow-up, email campaigns, etc., so that they can stay connected with their customers on an ongoing basis.
- Website analytics: Site analytics allow businesses to track website traffic statistics and analyze how well their websites are performing over time. You can utilize this data to create reports and to improve your website’s performance in the future.
- ERP (enterprise resource planning): ERP solutions help businesses manage all their business functions — from sales orders to inventory management — from one integrated system that integrates across multiple departments within an organization.
- PRM: Professional Services. SaaS applications that provide resources for professionals, such as accounting and legal services.
- SSO (Single Sign On): Login through the same account on different websites or apps, like Facebook or Google, so you don't have to remember multiple logins or passwords.
What are the advantages of SaaS applications?
The advantages of SaaS applications are:
- The cost factor: The cost factor is one of the major advantages of using SaaS applications over other types of software solutions. You will have to pay a monthly or annual fee for using these applications, but this fee is much lower than what you would have to pay if you were to purchase an offline software solution from a vendor. This means that you will be able to easily afford these solutions and use them in your business without having to worry about any additional costs that come with buying off-the-shelf software solutions at a retail store or via online shopping sites such as Amazon or eBay.
- No installation requirements: When compared to offline software solutions, SaaS applications don't require any installation on your desktop or laptop computer before they can be used. You only need an internet connection to access your app from anywhere and at any time.
- Easy Setup: Setting up an application can be an overwhelming task but SaaS is easier to set up and manage in comparison to the traditional softwares just because they are accessible through an online portal.
- Scalable: A SaaS application can grow with your business without having to worry about scaling up or down, unlike traditional solutions which require significant changes when you add or remove features or clients.
- Unlimited availability: You have access to your applications 24/7 from anywhere you have internet access, even when you're away from your office or business address (work from home).
- Secure: Your data is stored in the cloud, so no more worrying about unauthorised access to sensitive information.
Step-by-Step Guide to Develop a SaaS Product
Do in-depth market research
In-depth market research is the basic need of any project. It will help you understand what your customers need.
If you are not sure how to do it, you can start by asking your potential customers what they are looking for. You must ask them what their problems are, and if presented with the solution, would they buy it? And for how much? If you don't do this, your product may become too expensive, or too complicated for customers to use.
Sometimes, all you need to do is ask a few basic questions answered about your customer base. For example, if you are selling greeting cards, you may only need to know who your customers are and how they use email marketing softwares. However, it's always best to do thorough market research to make sure that you are creating something that your customers will need.
Once you have identified all of your target market's needs, it is time to research how people are currently solving those problems. This will give you an idea of what features and functions need to be included in your SaaS product to meet those needs.
Which programming language or technology stack to use?
In the next step, you need to decide on a programming language. It is very important to choose a language that is supported by the cloud and that is easy to develop. A lot of open-source as well as proprietary options are available in the market. Everything depends on what your requirements and budget are. Open source options include PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, and Node.js. Proprietary languages include Go and Swift.
If you have decided that you want to develop an app for Android or iOS devices, then you should use an application development platform such as Appcelerator Titanium or PhoneGap Build.
Always have a controlled database
Another step in creating a SaaS application is to always have a controlled database. The reason for this is that if you do not have control over your data, then you cannot be sure that it will be secure and up-to-date. Additionally, it will become difficult for you to analyze your data in any way.
If you are going to use a third-party cloud service provider, make sure that they’re compatible with your project and that they provide the same level of security as you need. You should also create a separate server for each cloud application. You can do this by using virtual machines or dedicated hardware depending on your budget and needs.
The database should only contain the necessary data needed for the software to function. Once your database is set up, it’s time to move on to developing your system.
Always be consistent in your service
You can't change your app just because you are going to have a new feature or a new feature might appear. You must always keep the same core features of your application and make sure that you don't add new features or ideas for every update of your application.
Your app should be stable and smooth so that users will not get any issues while using it. Always make sure that you don't keep adding new features to increase the number of users on your app as there is no point in doing so because eventually, this will lead to more bugs and errors which will affect the user experience on your app negatively.
Have an asynchronous communication protocol
The best way to develop a SaaS product is by having an asynchronous communication protocol between the clients and the server. WebSocket technology from Google is developed to accomplish this purpose only. Doing this will ensure that you have a quick response time and high throughput as well as reduce network traffic.
You can also create your communication protocol but it will be more complicated and time-consuming.
- Have an asynchronous communication protocol between the server and the client. This can be done by using HTTP or some other type of protocol.
- Develop a web service that will allow the users to upload their data and make it available on the server side.
- Create a web application that accepts user input, processes it, and returns the results to the user via a web page or an email message (if desired).
- Create a database on the server side, which contains all of your data in one place, as well as any updates made by users, new features added, etc.
- Create an authentication system for your system so that only authorized users can access their information or download files from your system."
Have a competitive pricing strategy
In the early stages of planning a SaaS product, it's important to have a pricing strategy in place. When you're selling your software as a service, there are a lot of different ways that you could make money. You could charge per seat, per person, or user. You have to develop a pricing strategy that is robust as well as flexible. It should not be set in stone as it may have to change as the company grows, or if there are changes in the market.
A pricing strategy is an important part of the product development process. It helps you determine how to price your software and determine how much revenue it will generate.
How to hire SaaS developers?
The first thing that you should do when you are looking to hire a SaaS developer is to hire an agency. An agency will take care of all the communication between you and the developer, so you don't have to worry about it at all.
The second thing that you need to do when hiring an agency is to make sure that they have good references. This is because if they are not able to deliver on their promises, then it will reflect badly on them and their company as well as on your brand.
Another thing that you should consider when hiring an agency is whether or not they have enough experience in building SaaS products. If they don't have enough experience, then there is a chance that they might struggle with some parts of the development process and will end up delaying the project unnecessarily.
Indeed, cloud-based apps are not the right fit for all types of businesses. But the model is increasingly becoming popular because of its many advantages. Many top enterprises like Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop are seen to have switched to this software delivery model. And how could we forget to mention the most popular apps like Grammarly, Slack, and Spotify that were built as SaaS products in the first place?
Now, if you already have a large or scalable business then it is worth mentioning that SaaS is the perfect option for you.