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Custom SaaS Apps: Concept, Advantages, Development Costs

 

The world is full of things that we do not know much about, but this does not prevent us from using them in everyday life. In this article, Umbrella IT suggests to have a look at one of such technologies.

If we conducted a survey among ordinary users of the web and mobile apps as to what SaaS is or how to build a SaaS app, most likely there would not be so many accurate and/or detailed answers.

At the same time, if we asked, what Gmail is and how it works, we would undoubtedly receive a sufficient number of profound explanations with specific examples.

While Gmail is an example of SaaS, using this service has just become a habit, and its operation does not raise any additional questions.

 

Do you want to learn more about SaaS,  custom SaaS app design and development costs and how to start using this technology on a practical level?

SaaS is software as a service. And the abbreviation explains only that the software is provided to the customers for a certain fee.

Surely, our curious reader has a lot of questions here. If you have never encountered a SaaS technology, we suggest to figure out together what it is, how you can use it for your business, and how much it costs to develop a custom SaaS application (web or mobile).

 

saas question mark

What Is SaaS Delivery Scope?

SaaS is one of the most common forms to provide cloud services.

A cloud service implies that a customer receives certain computing capacities and storages to use (as a lease) to process and place his/her data, which can be accessed from any customer device through an Internet connection.

There are several models to render the cloud services: IaaS (infrastructure as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), and SaaS (software as a service).

 

IaaS (infrastructure as a service):

Cloud Service Provider:

  • delivers and maintains hardware;
  • provides the personnel to be engaged in the hardware operation;
  • performs software representation of the complete infrastructure for the customer (virtualization).

 

Customer:

  • deploys his/her own software on the provided database;
  • is held responsible for managing his/her operating systems and apps (including backup);
  • provides computers, laptops or other devices to have access to such apps;
  • may introduce any changes practically without limits.

Examples: AWS, Google Compute Engine

 

PaaS (platform as a service):

Cloud Service Provider:

  • delivers and maintains hardware;
  • provides the personnel to be engaged in the hardware operation;
  • performs software representation of the complete infrastructure for the customer (virtualization);
  • based on the infrastructure, creates databases and installs the required operating systems;
  • is in charge of managing the operating systems and databases.

 

Customer:

  • deploys its own apps based on such a platform and is responsible for their managing;
  • provides computers, laptops or other devices to have access to such apps;
  • may customize his/her apps.

Examples: Apprenda, Heroku

 

SaaS (software as a service):

Cloud Service Provider:

  • delivers and maintains hardware;
  • provides the personnel to be engaged in the hardware operation;
  • performs software representation of the complete infrastructure for the customer (virtualization);
  • based on the infrastructure, creates databases and installs the required operating systems;
  • is in charge of managing the operating systems and databases;
  • deploys the own apps on the basis of such platform and is in charge for their managing.

 

Customer:

  • provides computers, laptops or other devices to have access to such apps;
  • has no possibility to customize the service independently.

Examples: Dropbox, Box

 

As you can see, all three models differ in terms of the responsibility scope exercised by the provider and the customer, and the level of customization possibilities.

 

Choose the model that suits you:

  • choosing IaaS, you acquire complete control over processing and storage of your information, but at the same time you are fully responsible for it;
  • PaaS enables you to manage your own apps, but at the same time it gives you less control and less responsibility;
  • SaaS allows you not to spend any resources on IT equipment operation and software management, but to deal exclusively with your own business. In this case, the control of data processing and storage is completely handled by the cloud provider.

 

graph

What Are SaaS Advantages For Business?

Let’s check, how this happens in real life:

Please, meet John. He’s a startupper. His startup idea is to build a SaaS application in the cloud for auto mechanics, where they can search for their customers, and customers, in their turn, can choose service providers.

 
 

stephen mechanic

And this is Stephen. He’s an auto mechanic. He runs a small business, and he would like to attract new prospective customers.

jane

And finally, here is Jane, another character of our story. She has some problems with her car and is looking for a qualified auto mechanic.

 


The advantages that will attract customers to John’s startup cover the following:

  • Stephen will select the app to attract customers to his business because he will not need to spend any money to pay for equipment and its operation or for the licensed software.

Stephen will simply buy a subscription (for some period of time (a month, six months, a year) or pay for a certain scope of services provided by John.

  • John’s application will help both Stephen and Jane to reduce the time it takes to find each other. And it will also simplify their communication due to well-established communication channels.
  • John  undertakes partially the risks existing in the relationship between Jane as a customer and Steven as a service provider:
  • payment through the SaaS app ensures a definite security of transactions;
  • Jane and Stephen can always see each other’s activity history on the resource (good ratings and careful fulfillment of obligations under previous orders will convince Jane of Stephen’s qualifications and honesty).

 

SaaS disadvantages:

  • The subscription cost paid by Stephen covers the risks of John as an intermediary as well.
  • No flexibility is possible, when it is required to make any changes to the service (changes can only be introduced by the cloud provider, and they affect the entire structure of the app as a whole).

Stephen cannot customize the service exclusively for himself. If he wants this – he has to ask John, but it may be inconvenient for other auto mechanics, who joined the app as Stephen.

  • Strong competition for Stephen. There is a fierce competition for Stephen. He will need to make efforts to profitably stand out against other competitors (especially if he joins the service when a large number of participants have already registered there).

 

cloud

What is Specific About Building Cloud-Based SaaS Application? How Much Does it Cost to Develop Software as a Service App?

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”  – Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO

Umbrella IT is especially proud, that we have participated in the projects, which are originally intended for improving the world around us.

Therefore, we firmly believe, that if your idea is original and focused on good, it will surely attract people’s attention, and will subsequently bring you the desired success, no matter in what form (in dollars, bitcoins or grateful smiles).

 

The following specific features shall be considered while creating a successful and functional customized SaaS application:

  • Even if initially John decided to create a web app, it is recommended to provide for the possibility to build a mobile app in the future: the number of mobile users grows constantly, and it would be unreasonable to initially exclude such a huge audience.
  • The application should be able to withstand heavy loads and operate under a multi-tenancy mode (multi-users lease): probably it is not necessary at the initial stage, but you need to be prepared for a large number of requests in the future (Stephen is not the only auto mechanic, who is ready to join the app.).
  • Provide opportunities for further expansion and change: you may need to add new modules or customized solutions or integrate other apps (for example, related service providers that will not provoke competition, but help to attract more users).

Or Stephen may decide to expand his business and change the self-employed person status to that of a legal entity, but at the same time, he wants to remain a participant in the app. This status change will result in certain app modifications.

  • SaaS app should be as convenient and easy to use as possible (for both Stephen and Jane), and this implies:
  • convenient and user-friendly tools for working with the app;
  • simple account registration, and easy ordering and payment procedures;
  • the arrangement of contact information in such a way, that Steven and Jane do not have to search for it;
  • implementation of UX/UI elements at the highest possible quality level: this app should primarily attract and keep the attention of visitors and customers.
  • Since a SaaS website is supposed to be utilized collectively by a large number of users, special attention should be paid to the protection of information: who and how has the right to use the information, how the user is authenticated, etc
  • When creating a SaaS website, the architecture should be given the highest priority: it is the basic logic that should take into account all the features of your future product and the possibilities of expansion. Technology and programming language are also important, but their choice will depend on the experience of your development team and app specific features.

 

costs

 

The SaaS app development services cost covers the following stages:

  • customer requirements analysis, creating a mind map and/or specification, creating wireframes;

Cost: from 5 to 50 USD pro hour.
Time required: from 30 to 100 hours.

  • mockups testing;

Cost: up to 10 USD pro hour.
Time required: from 10 to 40 hours.

  • development;

Cost: from 5 to 150 USD pro hour.
Time required: from 2 to 4 months (for working version).

  • app testing;

Cost: from 5 to 30 USD pro hour.
Time required: from 25 to 100% of time spent for development.

 

The average cost of SaaS app development will vary from 10,000 to 100,000 USD.

We specified the average cost based on Umbrella IT own experience. For more detailed description of factors that influence the development costs see our article How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App in 2017.

 

IMPORTANT:

If your app works and works successfully, and if you want it to generate profit, you will need to constantly invest therein: time, money, and efforts.

And this is quite reasonable: any app should respond to the following:

  • market situation
  • changes in customers’ demands;
  • changes in your own demands and goals.

 

saas paas iaas

 

One of the trends that have recently gained traction is the expansion of the SaaS model to PaaS: major cloud-based SaaS providers, having reached a certain level of success, expand their users’ capabilities. They offer the users platforms to create their own additional apps besides the initial one.

As an example, we can mention Salesforce as SaaS and Force.com as PaaS. On Salesforce, you can use standard apps, and Force.com allows you to build your own apps.

In addition, if initially the cloud services providers were focused on the most diverse activities, trying to encompass as large an audience as possible (horizontal SaaS), nowadays, vertical SaaS is widely popular, that is, services specializing in particular industries and activity fields.

Example: Veeva (specializes in healthcare area).

 

Obviously, SaaS responds quickly to changing demands and expectations of the consumer market, and, accordingly, has good prospects for future development.

Follow cloud technology world news on our website! And contact us right now if you still have any questions!

 

Photo: Shutterstock.com


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