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The software as a service (SaaS) market is worth more than $145 billion. SaaS customers have no hardware or software to buy, install, maintain, or update. Access to applications is easy: You just need an Internet connection.
If you’re just starting to explore the concept of SaaS, this is the place to find out what SaaS can do for you, see how SaaS is different, identify questions about SaaS, and learn more about developing SaaS applications.
Software as a service (or SaaS) is a way of delivering applications over the Internet—as a service. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you simply access it via the Internet, freeing yourself from complex software and hardware management.
SaaS applications are sometimes called Web-based software, on-demand software, or hosted software. Whatever the name, SaaS applications run on a SaaS provider’s servers. The provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance.
A SaaS company, or software-as-a-service company, is a business that has designed software that provides a specific service or host of services to its customers. SaaS companies can be business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) depending on the needs of their customers. A SaaS business creates the software, continues to develop it, updates the software as needed and provides support to business clients.
SaaS companies also provide their services through the internet, via cloud services, mobile applications and more.
SaaS software development has its peculiarities due to the cloud-based nature of SaaS apps, so it’s important to follow six steps to build a successful product: planning, a discovery phase, application design, architecture design, development and testing, and maintenance and further development.
Proper planning is the basis for building a successful application. The success of a SaaS application depends not only on using the right technologies but also on thoroughly researching the market, studying the target audience, defining the aim of your app, and thinking through the main features. This is what you should do first when planning SaaS app development.
While planning is usually a stakeholder’s responsibility, you can also ask your development partner for help. An experienced IT company will offer you business analysis (BA) services to research your case and provide you with the best solutions to enter and develop in the desired market.
A discovery phase is about structuring your plans for SaaS application development and preparing a bunch of documents that will help your development team build the app you want.
When it comes to web app design, you need to think about the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Before building a cloud-based SaaS application, it’s important to decide on the interface so it perfectly meets the needs of your target audience.
When thinking through your SaaS platform’s user interface and user experience, keep in mind what devices your target audience will use. SaaS applications work on both computers and mobile devices. A UI/UX specialist will prepare designs for devices with different resolutions so your users can work conveniently in the office, at home, or on the go.
The software architecture is the foundation of a successful application that meets stakeholders’ technical requirements.
SaaS architecture is cloud-based, which means that databases, storage, and services are located in the cloud, not on physical servers.
While the previous steps to building cloud applications might not seem obvious, this one is clear and doesn’t require much explanation. During this step, SaaS developers work on the front end and back end of your application. At the same time, quality assurance (QA) engineers check that each piece of functionality works properly – both in isolation and as part of one system.
It’s important to mention that in software development, especially if we’re speaking about a SaaS startup, development and testing is iterative. SaaS developers don’t build the whole application at once. They usually start with a minimum viable product (MVP) that includes only the most important features to meet the basic needs of your target audience. Once they build a SaaS platform MVP and launch it, you can gather feedback from first adopters and think about which existing features to improve and which new features to develop.
This iterative approach to development is called Agile and is widespread in software development, especially among startups.
The final part of the iterative development process is deployment. Deployment is the process of making an MVP version of a cloud-based SaaS application available to end users. During this step, a DevOps specialist or another team member with relevant experience prepares all parts of the new code to be deployed and merges the entire codebase into production.
Once your MVP is available to users, focus your efforts on assessing its performance. During this step, you should gather user feedback, analyze it, decide what can be improved, and determine what new functionality your users need. At the same time, SaaS developers on your team can help you fix existing bugs and plan future functionality.