Some may view a transition to Software as a Service (SaaS) as simply the “cloudification” of applications. But in many cases, SaaS delivers richer, more relevant features and functions than packaged applications, while also presenting an opportunity to restructure and eliminate gaps.
SaaS is software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely over a network.
For startups with a limited application footprint, SaaS adoption is straightforward. These businesses have little or no baggage — less historical data to accommodate, less process reengineering necessary and less resistance to change.
Most organizations, however, have a significant application footprint and mature processes, so they undertake their journey toward SaaS with a significant amount of preimplementation work. They must ensure that the right objectives are put in place and all objectives are met.
As an example of the challenge, consider human resources management systems (HRMS).
Oracle’s Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud and SAP’s SuccessFactors both differ drastically from their corresponding traditional non-SaaS packages in terms of features, functionality and even structure in some places. This can be a crucial barrier with respect to change management in an organization adopting such SaaS packages, especially for regions such as Middle East and Asia that often require high degrees of customization.
This aspect of change management may not be evident when discussing cloud and SaaS with C-level leaders, but for an organization undertaking such transformation, the responsibility lies with the project sponsor (the business or data- and process-owning organization, in most cases) and facilitator (IT and procurement departments, in most cases).
The transition, however, should be treated as an opportunity, when coupled with functionality enrichment and process reengineering. For example, the analytics and business intelligence of SaaS packages are often richer and better integrated than those of non-SaaS packages and, in most cases, the user experience and context are improved.
Reasons behind the improvements include:
- Freedom to create a fresh design, since most SaaS packages do not have a direct upgrade path from their traditional counterparts
- Ability to take a more modern approach to reflect changes in business, user priorities and technological advances
These aspects of SaaS ensure better productivity and usability, and sometimes help reduce customizations — although one could argue that ingrained processes are not yet mature or complete in SaaS packages.
SaaS has the potential to modernize and enhance business processes and user experience to a very large extent in the immediate term. Coupled with the level of investment in SaaS from product/package companies, that potential will only grow.
Organizations should review gaps, customizations and “maintenance and usability” challenges and consider SaaS options and cloudification benefits to drive business. Looking at the maturity of many SaaS packages, we firmly believe a coexistence model (SaaS and non-SaaS packages) is applicable for all organizations, and a hard look at the status quo could help identify such opportunities.
A trusted advisor and partner can help clients figure this all out, select the right strategy, roadmap and implementation — especially in high-customization regions such as MEA.
Mohammed Ali Khan, also known as Ali, serves the Solution Sales Advisor role in CSC. He is well versed in the processes, methodologies and technologies used in transformational initiatives around applications and infrastructure. Ali delivers guidance in digital transformation, helping enterprises implement application strategies, governance and architectures and identify technologies that help them put information to use in business processes and end user experiences. Over the past three years, Ali has also focused on cloud computing, be it SaaS, PaaS or IaaS, and has been helping clients in its adoption. Connect with him on LinkedIn.