The truth about SaaS applications and Customization - don't get caught!

Understanding SaaS applications and Customization

Companies have been badly "burned"/misled by not understanding the limits of customization of a SaaS application before deployment.

Not all SaaS applications can be customized equally - especially with bespoke system-specific features and operational/functional requirements.

SaaS applications typically provide a single core set of functionality. Depending on the SaaS application that is selected and, if that SaaS uses modern technology and flexible design methodologies and principles, then it can be highly flexible and customizable. There are basically two levels of customization.

Option 1:  Within limits set by the Vendor = Restrictive

A good example of this is Gmail, where users can set-up email folders, assemble email routeing rules, connect to various mail servers, add various accounts and signatures, modify or personalize the overall visual look and feel of Gmail. These "customizations" are usually included in the standard costs of the core SaaS.

With regard to other SaaS applications on offer - this is the area where clients are falsely led by unscrupulous vendors to believe that they can "customize" the application to suit themselves, but in reality, there are usually many restrictions and limitations that are enforced by the application vendor. These scenarios typically include the misleading assurances that: "We can set up your SaaS application to operate as a full website and brand it to suit your company. You can add pages and send newsletters." Vendors who make these claims probably have no inkling of your company's strategic direction, requirements and future growth - nor have they completed a thorough, honest analysis of your current and proposed website requirements - and matched that against their SaaS solution.

In the truthful world, no true SaaS application in the world can offer the advanced flexibility, functionality and ease of use of a true professional CMS / Social website platform such as Wordpress, etc. - or even hope to compete with the rapid technological advancements in the specialised web industry where the lifespan of technology is approximately a mere 2-3 years.

Option 2: As per client specifications & strategic ongoing requirements = Huge Advantages

In a flexible, technology-aware SaaS environment, clients can request special functionality (or even sub-systems) to extend the core set of SaaS functions, e.g. extra data capture forms for extended profiles for customers / members, unique transactional processing such as membership registrations, debtors, invoicing, storage for videos & training materials, seamless integration / synchronization of data within a client's website pages.

The SaaS Vendor charges for the cost of the development of such "add-on" programs and then maintains & supports them as part of an extended SaaS license. The client pays a license fee for the ongoing use of the add-on feature(s) or sub-systems. The license fee then also covers any technological and security enhancements, database management and oversite and ongoing upgrades. The client can also request further enhancements and modifications at will to growth the systems according to their strategic requirements.

In this way, the client can build up a unique operational platform of SaaS sub-systems, all connected to the original core set of the original foundation SaaS Application.

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