It’s unlikely that you’ve made it this far in your career without ever using software-as-a-service (SaaS) business solutions.
So let’s make some time-saving assumptions:
- You know that SaaS is software you use via the internet.
- You’ve used online tools to collaborate with colleagues and contacts before.
- You know the cost saving and time saving benefits of using SaaS versus installed software.
- You’ve noticed that SaaS pricing models are typically subscription based.
Great. Now check your assumptions at the door while we take a closer look at SaaS for project management, and the reasons for its dominance over traditional in-house software or pen and paper solutions.
Ready to Use From Day 1
You know how your software purchases often take longer than expected to prepare for use? They have to be installed, configured, customised, then regularly maintained. And don’t forget the live in-house training workshops that somebody always seems to miss…
When people talk about the time benefit of SaaS solutions, they usually mean that SaaS tools work fast. But the lead time is important, too. Installed software can take weeks to progress from purchase to use.
You don’t get that kind of hassle with SaaS project management solutions. Once your account is activated, you’re pretty much good to go! Training, if any is needed, can typically be accessed online so you can quickly get up to speed.
Instant, Automatic Transparency
It may already have occurred to you that there’s no big lead time issue with a pen and paper approach to project management. In some cases, that’s true. (In other cases, a complex new system of hard copy messaging and filing can bring your team to its knees!)
The beauty of SaaS project management is that everything’s recorded, and everything is always in its place. When you need a vital piece of information, it’s easy to find and you can clearly trace its history.
Pen and paper can be made to work for you by sheer willpower, but it takes a lot more effort to keep hard copy data in good working order than to use a SaaS tool designed for the job. If you’re accustomed to using a lot of paperwork and handwritten notes, you’ll find the clear accountability and ease of search in SaaS project management software quite refreshing.
As for installed project management software, it can work well, but usually requires more attention to data synchronisation and remote access issues than an equivalent SaaS solution.
Flexibility and Scalability
You probably already know that SaaS is often cheaper than an in-house software installation, because the initial costs are small and maintenance is included in your ongoing service subscription. There’s another cost that’s little discussed, though: the hidden cost of unused features and services.
Many organisations invest in an expensive in-house installation of their new software only to find that they’re using a tiny fraction of its feature set because the software’s scope exceeds their needs. That means that if they only use 20% of the software’s capabilities, they’ve wasted 80% of the (often shockingly high) licensing fee and other initial costs.
With SaaS project management tools, you can generally choose from a range of service levels so that your subscription doesn’t include too many unused services. And if your needs change, it’s easy to upgrade or downgrade your subscription. This kind of flexibility and scalability are what make SaaS the key to project management in 2013.
Ian Needs has many years experience in the PM software industry and is currently Marketing Manager for KeyedIn Solution, whose offerings are focused entirely on driving improved business performance. Read more about their solutions here if you are in the USA, and here if you’re in the UK.