When personal computers became available in the mid-70s, the idea of software was extremely primitive. As time progressed into the mid-90s and before the start of the 21st century, amateur developers could download software on their own.
Now, there is software to accomplish virtually any possible task, from handling bookkeeping to managing time and productivity.
However, instead of requiring users to download software manually and keep it live using remote servers that are expensive to manage, SaaS developers and executives alike have moved on to using a new type of product.
SaaS products have become commonplace as software can now be utilized and managed online. The format is more cost-effective and accessible for any type of internet user.
Because of this, the SaaS worldwide market has grown tremendously. Here is a live look at the market’s growth from 2008 to 2020:
If you’re interested in developing a software solution, now is the perfect time to consider building a SaaS platform. This comprehensive guide will teach you all you need to know about how to create a successful SaaS platform for your business.
What is a SaaS Platform?
SaaS simply stands for software-as-a-service. In the simplest terms, a SaaS product allows an internet user to access a platform without having to make a download. SaaS products are empowered by what is known as cloud computing.
To better understand how SaaS products work, it’s best to realize just what cloud computing is and how it’s beneficial to certain organizations. To understand what cloud computing is, think of a platform like Facebook.
In previous years, Facebook would have relied on external servers to maintain the platform and keep it online for billions of website users. Nowadays, it’s much more inexpensive and effective to host this management remotely and completely on the “cloud,” an internet model that makes computing power and data storage entirely remote.
Cloud computing makes SaaS products operate. Millions of people can access your product because they won’t have to download it to their own computers. This innovative tactic has made it more reliable and efficient to host a SaaS product.
If you were never familiar with SaaS products up until this point, you’ve likely used a few. Google Drive is a prime example of a brilliant SaaS product that offers a web-based suite of software products (i.e., Docs, Sheets, and Gmail).
Here are some other prominent SaaS platforms:
- Salesforce — The popular customer relationship management (CRM) tool, also offering enterprise marketing analytics, application development, and customer service solutions.
- Microsoft Office 365 — Microsoft now allows their most popular products, Excel, Word, and Powerpoint, to be collaborated with remotely.
- Dropbox — Users can store their files on the cloud and access them whenever they want.
- Slack — The real-time messaging platform can be accessed both online and with a downloadable app.
Benefits of Using a SaaS Model
The sharp increase in the development of SaaS products is no coincidence. Below are some of the key benefits of creating a SaaS model. These references will help you better understand the importance of creating a SaaS platform:
The cloud computing model a SaaS product offers makes setup completely simple. The vendor you choose will provide all the hosting and installation your product will need. This will expedite the deployment process of your product, much faster than the traditional, on-site model.
Even the largest software and website application providers worry about the constant web costs of managing their products available. Fortunately, the SaaS product model is cost-effective and can lower your overhead costs significantly.
On-site software management models will provide you a license once you pay an upfront cost. On the contrary, SaaS products offer a very convenient pricing model.
For example, Salesforce offers the following pricing plans for their customers:
In previous years, downloading updates was time-consuming and tedious. With SaaS products, users don’t have to install upgrades manually.
SaaS vendors can provide as many subscription models as possible to accommodate their target audience’s growth and satisfaction.
How to Create a SaaS Product: 6 Easy Steps
If you’re yearning to develop a brilliant SaaS platform, then you’ve come to the right place. Below are six straightforward steps to getting the job done the right way.
Step #1: Analyze the Market
The first obvious step in creating a product or a business is to analyze the market and find an audience for the solution you’re developing. Before you delve into a particular market, you should first answer the following questions:
- Who is your target audience? — Ideally, who is the person you plan on selling your product to? What does your target customer look like, and what are their motivations, hesitancies, and demographics?
- What are their main requests? — What is your target audience looking for? For example, you can guess that the people using Google Docs want a simple way to create and share documents conveniently between multiple developers in real-time. Anything that can achieve this goal should be a factor of their solution, and ultimately yours.
- Who are your fiercest competitors? — It’s important to identify your competition to ultimately define a unique way you can impact your market. It’s also beneficial toward spying on them and developing a competitive advantage.
- What is your business model? — Essentially, how do you plan on doing business? How many subscriptions will you offer, what will be the cost, and how many customers will you need to convert to maintain profitability despite your margins?
Answering these questions will help you better understand the market you plan on entering. Once you’re done, you should next develop a market description that clearly conveys a message to convince users to choose your product over your competition.
Market analysis is impactful toward finding profitable business opportunities, analyzing the successes and failures of your competition, defining successful development strategies, and building a high-demand SaaS product overall.
Step #2: Develop a Business Plan
As you can imagine, your business plan will serve as a roadmap for your application’s development. Let’s describe the critical questions you’ll need to answer in this important document:
- How is your product different from others? — To answer this important question, discover what your company’s identity is and the value you want to share with your target audience. Ideally, describe this unique value proposition (UVP) in one sentence and make it memorable.
- What are the primary pain points your audience has, and how will you solve them? — Determine the problems your target audience is facing and come up with effective strategies in eliminating them better than your competitors.
- How can you reach out to your target audience? — This is where marketing and advertising come into play. How will you reach your target audience: partnerships, advertising, social media, content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO)?
- How do you plan on monetizing your platform? — Overall, how will your SaaS platform make money? You should consider all types of subscription models, such as per-feature, tiered, usage-based, flat-rate, and freemium pricing models.
- How will you fund the development of your platform? — Estimate all of your expenses and determine where you’ll receive the funding to pursue the development of your SaaS product.
- What are your core objectives and goals? — Finally, create a list of objectives and goals that will highlight the success of your product.
Business plans are usually living documents, subject to change. However, creating one is still a prerequisite in developing a successful SaaS platform.
Step #3: Account for All SaaS Requirements
This is where the technical aspects of creating a SaaS platform comes in. To clarify, there are a bunch of different important technical tasks that must be maintained in your development project.
Let’s account for all of these urgent requirements below and what they mean:
- User Activity Monitoring — It’s important to maintain orderly audit logs to prevent intrusion and track changes properly. This plays an integral role in maximizing data protection and integrity.
- Multi-Tenancy — This involves each customer, or tenant, sharing the application’s single database. Achieving this task allows publishers to save money and accomplish more powerful computing power.
- Security Ensuring — Security vulnerabilities can plague an overly-ambitious SaaS product without proper planning. To combat this, multi-factor authentication, access control, and identity management are all crucial.
- Self-Service Provisioning — This simply means that the delivery of key services are entirely automated. This speeds up the product’s provisioning and makes it more scalable, stable, and consistent.
If you’d like to leverage more specific functionality, you should learn from your competitors. It’s recommended that you create an exhaustive list of crucial product features that are necessary for your niche.
Make sure you define a difference between important features, and the ones that are cosmetic or just nice to have. The most important aspect of this exercise is defining your minimum variable product (MVP) of your application.
This will be explained further in Step 6.
Step #4: Select Your Technical Stack
A technical stack is referred to by software developers as a rundown of the tools, programming languages, and frameworks used in a software development project. Today, there is an abundance of technology options to choose from.
For this reason, the process of building a SaaS platform and deciding on which technical stack to use is often challenging. A separate issue relies on the needs of your business.
Thus, there isn’t an easy solution to this challenge. As such, here are some recommended choices for each aspect of your project’s development.
The front-end is essentially all of the aspects of your SaaS platform that users will see and interact with. Making changes to the front end will impact the interface and visibility of your platform.
- js — A popular framework used for creating easy-to-maintain, lightweight applications.
- Angular — Used mainly to handle user interactions in a website browser.
The backend refers to the non-visible aspect of software. It’s responsible for the responsiveness and functionality of software. It’s recommended to use a stable framework, such as Django, Node.js, or Ruby on Rails.
Ruby on Rails is one of the most popular frameworks, as it’s secure, scalable, cost-effective, and fast.
Databases are integral in organizing the core information of your application. Frameworks like NoSQL, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.
PostgreSQL stands out as the most open-source and advanced database.
Cloud Computing Provider:
To host your SaaS platform, you’ll need to select a cloud computing provider. Amazon Web Services (AWS) holds a large share in the cloud computing market and is used by millions of products throughout the world.
Step #5: Assemble Your Team
The success of your product depends ultimately on the term you hire to build it. Who would you need to build a successful product? Below are some valuable team members you should consider:
Overall, it’s up to you whether or not you want to hire an in-house team, freelancers, or consult a software development company.
Step #6: Develop a MVP
Remember, the MVP is what will drive your SaaS platform. In definition and figuratively, the MVP will play an integral role in convincing users to subscribe to your platform. You should be mindful to address three main concerns when developing your MVP.
- Collect user feedback. What did your users like about your product? What changes could be applied to elevate user experience?
- Test the waters. Make sure that your product is built to satisfy a constantly growing SaaS market. This will help you determine if there will be a growing demand in your product.
- Use different concepts. Focus intently on how your product will impact your users as a whole rather than singular features. Products sell — features don’t.
Build a Successful SaaS Platform Today!
As you can see, there are numerous aspects to creating a brilliant SaaS product. Do you need help in creating one for your business? If so, contact us today to speak to a member of our team.
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