Cloud Discussions: Should small businesses jump in the SaaS bandwagon?

In my last post I tried to answer some of the questions I most frequently hear from small business owners concerning the Cloud. Amongst other things, I talked of SaaS solutions. This post will primarily focus on these SaaS solutions and when they should be applied to small businesses.

What are the SaaS pros and cons for small businesses?

Here are the pros :

  • Less expensive : Since the solutions are made for hundreds or thousands of businesses, they are usually way less expensive than customized software solutions for example.
  • Easy to evaluate : Generally, SaaS providers offer some trial versions allowing you to make sure the solution fits your needs before you purchase it.
  • No hardware maintenance : Since the solution is hosted by the provider, you don’t need to worry about the hardware implications. Getting this kind of hardware infrastructure can be very expensive for small businesses.

And now some of the cons :

  • Provider-dependent : SaaS obviously implies that you need to trust your provider.  If the software goes down for any reason, you need to trust the provider will correct the problem quickly. Its out of your control. This being said, since hundreds or thousands are, like you, depending on the provider, you can be sure that they’ll fix it as quickly as they can.
  • Fixed applications : Since these solutions are made for many businesses, they need to be generic. As a small business, you most probably differ from your competition process wise. Using a generic software solution, you’ll probably need to adapt your processes to the software rather than the opposite.
  • Internet connection dependent : Since you need Internet to access your application, you’re dependant on your Internet connection. If your operations depend on the software, its important for your connection to be reliable. One of the best solutions to counter this, is to have a redundant connection in case your primary connection fails.

Soooo?

Cloud computing is here to stay.  SaaS Solutions are an important part of the movement. These solutions are light, practical and less expensive.  Before deciding to use them though, its important to evaluate if these solutions will evolve with your business’s growth and new realities.  There are no unique small business and each have a different reality.  SaaS solutions can be quite helpful for small businesses for they help them discharge and delegate many responsibilities that used to be quite heavy money-wise and administration-wise.