Software as a service (SaaS) offers a number of benefits to small and medium-sized organizations. SaaS platforms enable you to rapidly leverage advances in technology and dynamically scale your infrastructure on short notice. However, SaaS might not be a one-size-fits-all solution for your firm as it presents several potential challenges to managing your data. Weigh the impact of the following issues when reviewing SaaS offerings.
Loss of Control of Data
When you partner with a third party SaaS provider, they ultimately become responsible for managing your company’s data. Trusting another firm to protect your sensitive data can raise identity and data access management issues. Putting another firm in charge of your data also makes it more difficult to migrate your data to another platform or environment down the road. You still need to secure your organization’s data to prevent exposure to the risk of unwarranted access, compromise or theft.
Spiraling Costs of SaaS Pricing Models
Getting started with SaaS offerings is attractive due to their initial low cost per user or entry level pricing per application. As your teams scale up requests and reliance on available features, overall data volumes will increase, which can quickly increase costs. Data transformation and server-side processing will be an issue whether you host data on your private cloud or with a third party. The flexibility to increase the number of users or add features and processes to your systems versus using a subscription model can quickly inflate SaaS costs. With business growth, management is often pressured to provide more access and greater adoption of system features, driving more user licenses and increased per-user rates for those additional applications.
Increasing Complexity of Tools to Manage
Your internal teams currently manage their own sets of tools and systems. Deploying SaaS applications introduces additional tools, consoles, and permissioning systems that also require management and integration into existing team workloads. Working with an external SaaS service provider can create integration problems with in-house software, APIs, and data structures. This can produce ongoing compatibility integration challenges with SaaS applications to ensure systems function properly. Look closely at how your employees’ workloads could be impacted by the additional breadth of complexity.
Lack of Ability to Customize or Prioritize
It is not prudent to rely on an external software provider to prioritize your firm’s needs. SaaS vendors are in business to serve their revenue directives and build their customer base. They are unlikely to prioritize your feature requirements and bug fix requests within the larger landscape of platform planning. The evolving availability of features and APIs is a concern for what is coming next, which you might not be aware of until the eleventh hour. Ultimately, strategic architecture changes are not within your organization’s control. Software firms have varying levels of transparency, which can negatively impact your system’s longevity, and the bottom line value being derived from externally-owned infrastructure.
Security and Compliance Concerns
Employing a third party to manage your data on their servers can have serious regulatory consequences. It can be difficult to ensure your organization is in compliance with data protection regulations, including HIPAA and GRDP. The broader question of data security also raises serious challenges for your CIO and internal IT staff. You will have to place a high level of trust in another organization’s review, vetting, and hiring practices. Beyond technological configuration, there is also the concern of not knowing who is tasked with securing your proprietary data. You cannot predict the recourse available to your organization if or when there is a data breach at your service provider.
SaaS integration offers a number of benefits to small and medium-sized businesses, but it also presents serious challenges with respect to managing your organization’s data. There are legitimate issues tied to losing control of your data, including potentially serious security and compliance concerns. Although there are initial cost savings of using SaaS, those costs can quickly and unexpectedly escalate out of your control. While cloud-based solutions offer the ability to scale and be flexible, they also require managing additional tools and put your ability to customize the tools to meet your needs in someone else’s hands.