With software-as-a-service (SaaS) implementations increasing in availability and popularity, many CIOs and information technology (IT) departments have started investigating the pros and cons of the SaaS model. Numerous organizations have already dipped a toe in the water or completely taken the plunge.
When it comes to your supply chain management (SCM) and spend management systems, what’s your comfort level with SaaS? Many have found that a SaaS model is a wise choice for SCM and the spend management systems that support procurement, invoice processing, expense control and financial reporting operations.
Weigh the Options
Here are a few ideas to round out your knowledge and help you make more informed decisions:
- Up-front investment: With a SaaS implementation, your provider manages the infrastructure so you don’t have to. There’s no need to buy hardware or pay networking costs, and no need for a team of dedicated IT resources. Furthermore, your organization might be able to leverage SaaS without going through a formal approval process because SaaS is not a capital investment. There’s no hardware to depreciate, so SaaS is a recurring expense instead of a capital expense.
- Implementation speed: SaaS solutions can be implemented much faster, because they do not require hardware or the same complex integrations traditionally licensed solutions do. This adds even more value to your initial investment.
- Operational expenditures: Unlike traditional models, most SaaS models are priced per user per month, making your operational costs far more consistent and predictable.
- Scalability and ease of expansion: SaaS implementations are centralized in a secure environment, so it takes less time and effort to deploy a solution in additional locations. Particularly if your application is deployed in the cloud like Apptricity’s SaaS solutions, SaaS models allow you to scale more easily than traditionally licensed models due to infrastructure requirements.
- Ability to leverage existing data: Both SaaS and traditionally licensed models allow you to leverage your existing data to approximately the same degree. While this is not a differentiator, it’s important to note that SaaS models are not limited in this regard. Both models give you the option of importing existing data or starting from scratch.
- Integration with in-house solutions: A SaaS application from a leading vendor should be able to integrate seamlessly with your current technology infrastructure. For example, Apptricity’s SaaS solutions — whether for SCM or spend management — integrate with your existing legacy applications and other in-house systems as well as any finance, human resource and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications from third-party vendors. Apptricity handles the integrations for every project deployed.
- Vendor-managed updates and services: Transitioning business functions to a SaaS model enables you to leverage software updates and other various infrastructure services that are packaged as part of your SaaS implementation. While traditionally licensed models often involve third parties such as a hardware vendor, installation resources, system integrators and so on, SaaS models consolidate all activities under a single vendor. Upgrades and migrations occur in real time in the hosting environment instead of on your premises. Centralized application management ensures that you always have the most current and up-to-date version of the software.
- Business continuity: SaaS systems store data offsite in a secure location. If you’re affected by a power outage, natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstance, you don’t lose your information or your application.
Consider the Vendor’s Capabilities and Reputation
The last statement about business continuity brings us to an important point. While SCM and spend management systems are well suited for SaaS, one of the most important aspects of transitioning to a SaaS model is the vendor.
An experienced, industry-leading vendor can orchestrate a smooth transition to a SaaS model and enable you to meet your return on investment (ROI) projections quickly. Look for a provider that delivers scalable, configurable solutions that integrate smoothly with any third-party data source. Upgrades should be performed quickly at a minimal cost. The system itself should be adaptable to the way you do business instead of requiring you to modify your processes to fit a predetermined application structure. The right vendor will be flexible and collaborative, a trusted partner that comes alongside to support your goals and further your initiatives.
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