• Elisabeth Nebster

How to develop a SaaS product: software development guide

Over the past few years, SaaS products have become an integral part of any business architecture. Their functionality is diverse and allows enterprises to solve almost any standard issue. Following Deloitte, entities spend over $2.8 thousand per employee on SaaS. Expected that the SaaS market value will grow from $157 billion up to $217 billion between 2019 and 2023.


As you might see, this segment is not even thinking of losing ground. It begs the question: "Should a company invest in SaaS as a product to sell? And if so, what kind of service will it be?". XME.digital invites you to read more about it below.


Engineering Software As A Service: An Agile Approach Using Cloud Computing


It's arduous not to get acquainted with SaaS products if there is an unprecedented amount of materials devoted to this topic. But before we move on, let's answer the question "How does SaaS work?" in outline. Software as a Service model assumes the software usage based on the so-called "lease". The user only needs to pay the subscription fee to start operating with a product. It's a heavenly condition for management since you can forget about installing expensive equipment, long-term development from scratch, and constant solution updates. The vendor does everything for you.


The business world suffers from a substitution of concepts, thinking that Software as a Service is any cloud product, working under the above principle. It is not entirely correct as there are at least 4 forms of cloud computing, including Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Backend as a Service (BaaS). But now is not about that. Much more fascinating what exactly the SaaS market offers.


AI-based SaaS


In 2021, it is hard to imagine Software as a Service product development without AI tools. And back in 2018, this phenomenon was simply called a rapidly spreading trend. An elementary result of such a technology is chatbots, which are actively used by almost every company to establish internal and external corporate processes. Artificial intelligence enriches the product, endowing it with additional core qualities, like:

  • an exceptional level of customization without complicating the interface;

  • ensuring high-quality self-service and constant communication with customers through bots, providing basic support;

  • fast and error-free deployment;

  • high level of security due to automatic threat detection

  • and, finally, the ability to make predictive analytics.

Many companies make these benefits a key unique selling point. For example, the startup TransVoyant provides supply chain companies like J&J or Nestlé with accurate forecasts regarding any situation in the world that somehow affects logistics processes. It would be impossible without an AI toolkit.


Striking examples of the AI technologies introduction can be Amazon, Netflix, Grammarly, HubSpot SaaS product, etc. Typically to produce AI-based SaaS solutions vendors use Java, JavaScript, Python, JS, Apache, Hadoop, and Swift.


Sharing Economy SaaS


Large business representatives often use this type of product. Here we are talking about the internal SaaS development and its further usage by several departments or affiliated entities.


Let's say a corporation needs a tasks manager. Sure, it can use free solutions like Asana. But the company can also handle a sizable amount of sensitive data. So, maybe it prefers custom development. In this case, it is unnecessary to create 10 identical products for 10 affiliated entities. It is enough just to provide all employees with access to one development. This approach will contribute to a positive employee experience and high productivity.


Thus, the advantages of shared services are obvious:

  • engineers work optimization

  • reduce costs

  • a unified app management and monitoring center, subordinate to the company's management

However, there are no clear trends in technology usage here. An enterprise can choose any stack suitable for a specific development.


Marketplace SaaS


It is a SaaS that provides service to other Software as a Service vendors. The product looks like a marketplace, containing data about products (details, feedback, etc.), and suppliers. The client just needs to find the desired solution in the database and follow the link to communicate with the vendor directly. There are also commercial platforms where the user can immediately purchase the product he needs by selecting it from the list (Apple Store, AWS Marketplace, Creative Cloud, App Direct).


These services should be super scalable and integrative since they provide for an unlimited number of end-users and require seamless interaction with payment systems.


SaaS For Retail, Telco, Manufacturing: Peculiarities


Retail


Perhaps the industry for which there are a huge number of SaaS products. However, retailers rarely use them as main systems (ERP or CRM). These solutions apply to more dynamic areas, where a business needs a convenient toolkit without large investments. Traders purchase SaaS to empower omnichannel approach, communications, sales, marketing, loyalty and analytics systems, employee management, etc.

You can see ready-made solutions paying at the checkout since almost all used Point of Sale systems are SaaS products.


But one of the most core niches in need of SaaS support is the interaction with third parties. The last one is the subject of endless optimization. To provide quality services, a retailer needs to work with suppliers, external delivery services, distributors, etc. Here SaaS is the most optimal product by its nature: it provides access to data to any participant from anywhere. It will be arduous for custom solutions on the private cloud to outperform vendor SaaS in terms of accessibility.


The most successful SaaS startups for retailers as of 2020 are LightSpeed, Fivestars, Brightpearl, etc.


Telecommunication


In this SaaS domain, products are used as tools to stay afloat within the fierce competition. Providers need to deliver unique services to stay ahead of the curve. Here Software as a Service mission is to:

  • help implement or support value-added services (like additional megabytes of Internet, roaming, etc.);

  • become a worthy replacement for the cumbersome and expensive in maintenance Business Support System (BSS);

  • accelerate time2market for new products and improve the quality of customer service in digital format.

Moreover, the 5G adoption speed is also highly dependent on SaaS products. At the end of 2019, Mycom OSI announced the release of MYCOM OSI 5G Roll-out Accelerator SaaS. This product enables CSPs to obtain comprehensive guarantees for the rapid 5G deployment. SaaS users can withstand competitive pressures, ensuring responsive connectivity and maintaining a high-quality customer experience. Later, the company's cooperation with stc was awarded the Telecom Review Excellence Awards 2020.


It is not easy for a telecom representative to find the SaaS they need as the number of offers is limited. Since demand creates supply, it is logical to assume that this industry still prefers custom products, considering them as reliable. However, companies have found another way to work with Software as a Service. It is where the b2b2x cooperation model is most commonly used.


Speaking about the definition: it's a collaboration between telco and IT companies to ensure the provision of services to an unlimited number of domains (retail, healthcare, environment protection, etc.).


It allows telecom representatives to expand the audience. For instance, due to the b2b2x model, a provider can design healthcare products for tracking the performance of dynamic implants within the human body.


Manufacturing

This industry is the least flexible in comparison with the previous ones since the key element here is the production technology. Any SaaS solution must support it. Therefore, many companies do not risk leaving the main systems management in the vendor's hands. Anyway, you can find a few ready-made CMMS, ERP, CRM, and project management solutions on the market.


Manufacturing tries to keep up with the times and Software as a Service actively helps with it. Here products are used for:

  • internal processes audit

  • production quality control

  • collecting and generating data (for example, creating job descriptions)

  • increasing brand awareness

  • building partnerships

Among the most used solutions are Tulip, Picomto, Prodsmart, and Q.Shop.



Benefits Of Software As A Service That You Shouldn’t Miss


Companies have benefited from a variety of SaaS products and platforms for years. Even the term "platform economy" has even appeared in everyday life.


What is platform economy? It's business activities, based on platforms. It turns out that the enterprise should use SaaS and platforms to solve almost all issues: conducting transactions, optimizing work, and even creating software.


A key advantage of the platform economy is fast hypothesis testing. The company needs to be sure that its idea is profitable. Platforms help to check it in a matter of hours.


Sometimes using a platform for development is a better changeover than development from scratch. The project can be so long that the finished product will not be up-to-date. SaaS helps make the designing process faster in whole or partly measure.


Platforms often take away your vendor dependency. A client manages its subscription, deciding whether to continue usage or looking for a new supplier. It makes the company flexible and supports corporate innovations.


Don't forget about access and mobility. Cloud technology has opened up incredible opportunities. Following the globalization concept, they blur boundaries and timelines, allowing businesses to operate at any time from anywhere in the world.


So far, we have considered SaaS as potential or current users. But let's change focus. Why, for example, does a telecom company not create a billing solution for itself, and then reformat it into SaaS for others? Or does the enterprise for the coupons implementation not launch the paid service of previously free firmware?


Just imagine what business opportunities SaaS opens up if the company not only uses it but also sells it. Moreover, it's not compulsory to match SaaS with the main business activity. Take, for example, the retail giant Amazon, which simultaneously provides AWS cloud services to anyone who wants to use it.


Building and selling SaaS allows a business to:

  • develop in new directions

  • expand the audience

  • turn competitors into partners

  • make a profit from an additional source


Agree, SaaS launching is an excellent way for enterprise growth. Whereas the XME.fast code platform is a perfect environment for SaaS development for any purpose and domain.


You should pay attention to this product for several reasons.


The first one: rapid hypothesis testing. Yes-yes, it is exactly the core thing that we were talking about. Due to a wide range of tools, agile templates, and popular stack support, a developer can create a full-fledged prototype in 2-4 weeks. A company can use it as a base for further development.


The second reason: vendor independence. While the similarities to low code solutions may seem striking, this is not entirely true. XME.fast code platform is an open-source environment. Thus, a client can use the source code to create new solutions outside the platform, or easily update the developed SaaS without the supplier's approval. We don't strive to control you. We want you to become an independent SaaS builder.


Another big reason and the last one reason is multi-tenancy. If you want to develop two SaaS for retailers and manufacturers with similar logic, create several tenants with the XME.fast core platform and add some custom features to each of them. Thus, you will get the maximum result with a minimum investment, optimized IT teamwork, and a unified product control center as a pleasant bonus.


Thus, the XME.fast code platform is the solution that supports the progressive platform economy direction and enables any-size businesses to seize new development opportunities.