What is SaaS development? How to build Saas Applications?
The times when there was just design, and it described everything are gone. Not to make our lives difficAs they say – modern problems require modern solutions. SaaS is a model that fits this saying, although it also raises some controversy. Is there a chance that we will move even further away from buying and installing software on our devices and towards storing everything in the cloud in the future? We will find out soon, but first, learn more about the SaaS platform development and see if such software architecture will suit your business.
What is SaaS application development?
SaaS (Software as a Service) is a cloud-based software delivery model where the software is licensed on a subscription basis and hosted centrally. Access to such software is possible on various devices using a web browser or application client. The recipient of the services does not manage or control the cloud infrastructure, including networks or servers. They have access to limited application configuration settings dedicated to the user. The software is entirely cloud-based, allowing instant access without the need to install it on your device. It allows for automatic updates and software suppliers control even after the product is purchased and shipped. Users do not buy such software but subscribe to it under a flexible pricing model. The growing popularity of the Saas model is attributed to the business essence of this type of software. The user does not have to enter into IT infrastructure or technical details to use a working, modern solution with specific functionality.
The development of SaaS platforms focuses on several issues. A robust SaaS application should work flawlessly to optimize customer resources, properly managing and storing them. Therefore, a sufficiently large, flexible and secure database is necessary. From the very beginning of SaaS development, scalability, both vertically and horizontally, should also be considered so that extending the platform will not be a problem in the future. To be more attractive, you also need to allow integration with third-party software. This importance will extend the functions of your Saas platform, so plan such activities by providing APIs and documentation at a later stage of development.
Benefits of SaaS Application
Profitable solution for consumers and businesses
The SaaS model offers consumers very convenient subscriptions, no need to install software to take up space on the device, and opt-out at any time. In turn, from a business point of view, such a platform means regular subscription income.
Easy access and setup
The entry threshold for Saas platforms is low; users are not worried about installing and managing the software they subscribe to. The cloud-based environment also allows them to be accessed from any device via a web browser.
Customers do not need to purchase and install updated packages to get the latest version of the SaaS product; the process happens automatically.
SaaS platforms can be scaled relatively easily when necessary.
Types of SaaS applications
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software – aimed at automating sales and marketing processes. They help manage customer data, track customer interactions, collect business information, and more.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software – integrates various business process management functions into one complete system that increases efficiency and enables efficient information exchange.
- Project management software – help you run projects efficiently, manage schedules, budget and deliver results on time.
- E-commerce software – help in starting and running an online business; enable product management, customer chat, payment integration, etc.
- Collaboration software – assist in communication and information exchange, such as virtual whiteboards.
- Email marketing software – help to optimise and automate the delivery of your marketing messages.
Step-by-step guide for SaaS development
Research and analyse the market
Market research is used to initially determine whether your business idea is feasible, meaningful and whether your product will be in demand. At this stage, you should define the target group – your potential customers, their main problems and challenges. In addition, research the competition, check what their products look like, what unique features they have, and what distinguishes them and what they lack. Also, trace their business models, marketing strategies, any successes and failures. The data collected in this research will help you create a specific picture of the market situation and clarify your vision. Thanks to this, you will be able to develop your SaaS development strategy.
The primary purpose of the Minimum Viable Product is to test your idea in practice. From the MVP definition, the overriding goal is to identify and select basic features that will bring value to consumers with minimal investment on your part. When creating a feature list for your product’s MVP, don’t forget about the requirements it should meet as SaaS. Remember that your product must have enhanced security, and solutions such as multi-factor authentication and identity management are more than indicated. SaaS can have single or multi-tenancy architecture. A single tenant architecture provides each client with its own server when using the software, which is more suitable for larger clients who may run out of resources quickly. The second approach means that many customers of a given service provider use the same computing resources but are not aware of each other, and their data is kept separate. You should decide which architecture to choose.
The MVP will be tested by early adopters who will give you valuable feedback on the operation of your product, which will turn into a full version of the product after subsequent iterations and corrections. Since your product should bring value to these audiences, think about the problem you are trying to solve. Find answers to questions such as: what is the persona of the recipient of your product, what actions are users taking to solve their problems and what solutions you can propose with your SaaS. MVP is an excellent approach to developing any digital product, and if you want to learn more about building an MVP, read our MVP Development Guide.
Of course, you can do all the steps in SaaS development together with your development team if you choose this approach. If not, selecting a contractor will be one of the next steps.
Choose a contractor for the project
Depending on which approach you choose, this step may appear earlier in your SaaS-based product development or later. You can outsource everything from market analysis to product maintenance after launch. Nevertheless, at some point, you have to decide who will build your SaaS platform. You have three main approaches to choose from:
- In-house – you hire developers in your company. It’s often team building from scratch that includes tons of recruiting, onboarding, onboarding, training, etc. This approach gives you complete control over the development process but carries the risk of a team member leaving unexpectedly, delaying the project. Moreover, you are responsible for every aspect of the project implementation, so you do not have that much time for the core business.
- Freelancers – this is the cheapest option on the market but also requires developer work management and coordination. They can have extensive experience in specific fields and technologies, and the market is rich in various talents. However, the chance of project extension, problems with timeliness or work control is unfortunately high.
- Outsourcing the project to an external team – this approach will suit companies of all sizes, with different projects and their scale. You do not have to build a team; your technological partner will choose it especially for you. Such teams have developed, streamlined processes, extensive experience, and provided high-quality services without managing their own work. As a result, you influence product development, but you don’t have to manage it, and you only pay for the work actually done.
Specify the technology stack
Choosing a technology can be a challenge, mainly because of the number of solutions available on the market. The frameworks, programming languages and tools needed for SaaS development should suit your business requirements. By default, SaaS platform development will include front-end, back-end, database and SaaS hosting provider or appropriate server for your app. It is best to entrust this task to a development team that will select the most optimal and efficient technological stack. In the following, we will discuss the best technologies for developing SaaS applications.
Develop the MVP, and later the full product
If you start SaaS development by creating an MVP, which is recommended for complex projects, you will first focus on building the MVP, user testing and improving it. Coding will be preceded by creating designs, taking care of UX, and of course, the precise definition of MVP and its features, which we discussed earlier. Development is also a quality assurance process. A development team composed of programmers, designers, QA specialists, and Project Manager will ensure the highest quality product delivery. Once the MVP is at a satisfactory level, the team will begin full development, releasing the full version of your SaaS platform and maintenance.
What are examples of SaaS?
There is a huge chance that you use many SaaS solutions yourself, especially now, in the era of remote work. With this model, you have hundreds of products to choose from, from office tools to project management, financial calculations and much more. The most popular providers of this type of service are Google and its Google Apps, such as Docs, Sheets or Drive, Microsoft, Microsoft Office 365, and Amazon with its Web Services. Canva’s online graphics tool, Dropbox, and MailChimp’s email marketing platform are also worth mentioning. The SaaS market and cloud solutions are constantly developing and gaining popularity.
How much does it cost to build a SaaS platform?
As in the case of any other product, the cost of developing the Saas platform will depend on the specifics of a given project, its scale, individual functionalities, technological stack, and the number of integrations. Your location and the location of your development team will also have a significant impact on the price. Developer rates are usually the highest in the US, UK and Canada. However, that doesn’t mean you should only be guided by that factor, although choosing a cheaper band may be tempting. Consider other issues, such as cultural fit, the IT company’s IT company, previously completed projects.
What makes a good SaaS product?
Put safety first. Implementing all measures to secure your customers’ data is crucial to have their trust and make them want to use your platform. It is worth providing information for customers on how your product meets specific security protocols.
Take care of proper customer service. Make sure they get the appropriate help they need to get the most out of your software. This is the key to keeping customers on your platform and therefore making your business profitable. You can consider implementing various forms of support, such as live chat, web form, e-mail or telephone. Also, take care of a solid FAQ, product knowledge base or training content.
Highlight product features and pricing. There is nothing more annoying than the lack of transparent information about a product’s price and features. Make sure that all information about your services is well displayed.
You will increase engagement and conversion rates by including a price calculator, information about add-ons, and an option to sign up for a trial period.
What programming frameworks should I use to build a SaaS product?
When building a SaaS application, you need a technology stack that will cover the needs of the frontend, backend, database, cloud hosting provider or a suitable server, depending on the chosen approach.
The front-end is responsible for the client’s side, i.e. all interactions it will perform with the platform and its visual side. Consider using advanced frameworks currently the most popular for their merits, such as React, Angular, or Vue.js.
Backend development should choose really reliable programming languages and frameworks—Pledge Ruby on Rails, Node.js, or Django. At BinarApps, we have extensive experience in developing Ruby on Rails applications of various scales and nature. RoR is a cost-effective, scalable and secure platform for SaaS applications.
Also, don’t neglect your database and choose between PostgreSQL, MySQL or NoSQL.
You also need to decide on a server for your application. A great choice is Nginx or Apache. You can also choose a cloud provider, such as Amazon (AWS), Google, Microsoft, or Heroku.
Future of SaaS Development
The SaaS solutions industry will undoubtedly continue to develop and adopt more and more advanced technological solutions. There is a lot of talk about using Artificial Intelligence to optimize processes, increase productivity and automate repetitive tasks. Introducing Machine Learning algorithms will make SaaS platforms self-improving, offering a higher intelligence and operational efficiency level. As the world becomes more mobile, and more often, critical parts of the business are handled using tablets or smartphones, SaaS platforms will have to better prepare for it. The pandemic further accelerated the growing demand for the SaaS mobile market. So, mobile-first is undoubtedly one of the most prominent trends. And there will be more to come. Get ready for changes and prepare your business for them. If you are looking for an experienced team that will reliably develop your SaaS platform, contact us.