By Arun Upadhay, LionOBytes
As a small business owner, you are often faced with decisions that can have tremendous impact on your company. Any choice that involves spending money – even minimal – must therefore be carefully considered. Investing in new technology is a big move for any company, especially a small-to-medium sized business (SMB), so it’s important to seek solutions that offer the greatest return on your dollar.
When considering software, SMBs are best suited to look for a solution that can not only be applied to a specific process or department, but one that also can be used for other parts of your business. Customer relationship management (CRM) software and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software are two solutions that can be leveraged to bring together different processes within your business and offer a single, integrated system. This all-in-one approach cannot only help reduce your costs and errors through automation, it also can give your company an edge against similar or larger competitors. The most efficient and effective way to implement CRM or ERP software is through a Software-as-a-Service or SaaS model.
SaaS is essentially a method of software delivery that allows the application and its data to be accessed from any device with an internet connection and web browser. Through a SaaS model, software solutions vendors host and maintain the servers, databases, and code and make it a centralized destination for users. According to a recent report, the SaaS market is already experiencing exponential growth due to the adoption of these solutions by SMBs.
What makes SaaS appealing to SMBs first and foremost is the low cost. Unlike traditional software that needs installation on premises, cloud-based SaaS is accessed via the internet. All the necessary hardware and infrastructure needed to run the application are managed by the SaaS provider and not by your business, which drastically reduces technology overhead. SaaS providers simply charge your business a monthly or a quarterly subscription fee, removing your need to pay for regular on-premise licenses, updates, installations, and new or additional hardware.
SMBs usually don’t have a dedicated IT team or even a manager. Because SaaS is relatively easy to deploy and configure, there is little need for in-house IT resources. SaaS is also more reliable. Updates, new features, bug fixes are automatically applied within the application, which eliminates downtime, disruptions and system breakdowns often associated with on-premise software.
If you’re not looking to move to SaaS across your entire company, it’s possible to approach it incrementally. The functionality and diversity of SaaS applications, particularly with CRMs and ERPs, enables SMBs tryout and become acquainted with them in individual operations. This also enables you to identify areas within your business where a SaaS option can have the greatest impact. As your business grows, a SaaS solution can scale quickly and seamlessly.
SaaS also provides flexibility for SMBs. Typically, there is no long-term commitment on subscriptions, making the IT spend an operational expense. You can then use the extra money for other programs or incentives where there may have been previous shortfalls.
SMBs also can benefit from SaaS’ ability to provide seamless third-party integrations. Most SaaS these days come equipped with third-party integration built in. SMBs can activate several services simultaneously, providing infrastructure similar to a much larger enterprise. Existing CRMs, ERPs, and e-Commerce solutions can all be linked – again at relatively low costs. These solutions are far more effective when working together and not siloed.
Many of today’s SaaS CRMs include ERP functionality. While ERPs and CRMs have similar functions, the latter is oriented more toward the management of customers and increasing sales; ERPs are generally concerned with internals systems and processes for reducing costs. This union of the two can facilitate communication between teams, reduce redundancies, help predict ripple effects of departmental decisions, and offer a 360-degree view of the company.
There is a truck load of additional features and benefits SaaS can bring to your SMB. When properly implemented, the right solution, whether it’s CRM, ERP, or another application, can be incredibly useful at increasing efficiencies and processes throughout an entire company. Overall, SaaS is designed to decrease the cost of doing business, while increasing productivity and profitability. With the proper planning and execution, SaaS can be the fuel your business needs to reach new heights.
About The Author
Arun Upadhyay, CEO and founder of LionOBytes, is a technology expert and serial entrepreneur. He has a proven record leading teams and producing cutting-edge IT solutions. His experience spans various continents, industries, and corporate sizes (startup to Fortune 500). His latest venture is LionO360 (www.liono360.com), a cloud-based CRM designed specifically for small to midsized businesses. Arun holds an MBA from Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management.