Software comes in many different shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking to implement a robust and intuitive workplace management solution to manage your enterprise, or a simple tool for one of your organization’s departments, there are multiple options to suit your needs. When considering these options, you will likely face two primary implementation paths - the traditional installed solution and Software as a Service (SaaS). Each method offers very distinct advantages and disadvantages to their users.
So, how do you identify which type of IWMS software solution is the best fit for your company’s needs? Let’s take a closer look at both, and we’ll let you decide for yourself.
For those of you who feel you may have limited knowledge on the subject, let’s begin with a brief definition of the two deployment options.
What is Installed Software?
Installed software works exactly as it sounds. It is purchased from the vendor and installed on your system’s network. Costs associated with such implementation typically extend beyond the software itself, as businesses must ensure they have the licensing, hardware, and IT support necessary to run the program.
What is Software as a Service?
Software as a Service (SaaS), sometimes called web-based software, is accessed via the Internet. Applications run on the provider’s server, freeing the client from the burden of managing complicated hardware and software, as well as any security issues. It is easily accessed from any device, as long as there is an Internet connection. Some providers, such as iOFFICE, also offer mobile applications to complement their software, removing the necessity of always having an Internet connection.
On the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the two, right? There are actually some pretty major variances, and they each have their own set of benefits to be considered when choosing the right solution.
Let’s tackle the Installed software subject first.
Pros & Cons of Installed Software
Because your Installed software is implemented and stored on-site, you have complete control over your own data, security, and access permissions. For those who wish for total government over their data, on-site software is the best option. Not only do you hold the power, you also own all the licenses associated with your new software solution.
This control, however, poses its own set of disadvantages, costing your organization in time, money, and headache. Implementation can be an expensive process, as you will face large upfront costs. You’ll be subject to licensing fees and will need to purchase additional hardware before implementation begins. Your IT department will also be charged with completing regular system upgrades, as well as back-up of your files. To safeguard against loss of any data, be sure information is backed up regularly and that a contingency plan is in place in case the first back-up system fails.
Also, since this business tool is installed on your system’s network, it does not require an Internet connection. It can be accessed from the intranet, making it available to all permitted users from anywhere on-site. While this sounds great on the surface, your workforce’s mobility is limited, restricting them to installed workplace devices only. With workplace mobility on the rise and approximately 61% of employees now working outside the office at least part of the time, this limitation could result in a loss of productivity amongst employees. Your workforce’s collaboration is also restricted, as individuals can only share documents via email and are unable to view edits/comments in real-time.
Now that we’ve reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of Installed software, let’s take a look at SaaS.
Pros & Cons of SaaS
While having complete control over your data might sound beneficial, it has its drawbacks as well. Unless you have an internal IT department large enough to take on this burden, the costs behind relinquishing control far outweigh the benefits.
Like most businesses, you likely have sensitive information, critical to the success of the organization. With SaaS, software upgrades occur regularly and your information is automatically backed-up and stored in a state-of-the-art security system. If an issue arises, the host absorbs maintenance costs and is equipped to minimize any associated downtime.
Unlike the traditional Installed model, a SaaS is already installed and configured. The purchase of additional hardware isn’t necessary either, so both time and money spent on implementation is minimal compared to its counterpart.
Because you have partnered with a software vendor, potential issues could arise should you decide to switch platforms or the SaaS provider becomes insolvent. Recovering or migrating your data from their system can sometimes prove difficult. It is critical that you fully vet all potential vendors before making a final decision. Ask for references and partner with a vendor with a long-standing history in the industry.
Access to your business tool is dependent on an internet connection, which some enterprises might view as a disadvantage. But, consider the advantages for a moment. Your workforce can gain access to the information they need, without the boundaries of time and space. Whether waiting for their flight at the airport, or at a business lunch, users can access and edit data from wherever, added another layer of collaboration as well. And since many providers now offer mobile applications to complement their hosted software, much of your data can be accessed without an Internet connection.
So, which model sounds like the right fit for your organization? Although having a system installed and in house is a tried and true method, SaaS has been gaining more and more traction as a highly successful alternative, especially with the rise of internet bandwidth and associated devices. Ultimately, the answer really depends upon your unique situation. How important are the following criteria: time to market, security, short and long-term costs, and mobility?
Consider these questions when making your decision and visit our infographic The Pros and Cons of SaaS-Based Software to learn the truth about common myths associated with Software as a Service.