Do it yourself or outsource? SaaS simplifies! (If you're ready)

By Cleo van Engelen

The question of "do it yourself" or outsourcing has gained an appealing alternative: Software as a Service, or simply SaaS. SaaS not only means having your software well-managed but also being instantly relieved of technical management, backups, and compatibility concerns as a customer. No hassle between administrators regarding responsibilities or determining whether an issue lies in the database, software, or configuration. Pay per use, scalable, and, as a bonus, continuous updates without cumbersome release and testing processes! Tomorrow? Preferably yesterday!

Saas / Software as a Service, Organization readiness, Customization, Transistion, Outsourcing

Is the organization ready for SaaS, does it see the impact?

SaaS seems to offer many advantages over traditional models at first glance. Of course, information security and privacy are crucial concerns. However, SaaS providers are aware of these issues and act accordingly. Therefore, more and more indicators are turning green, at least from the providers' perspective. But is the organization itself ready for SaaS? It might be an unexpected question since "everything is offered as a service," and there seems to be little for the customer to handle. But that's a misconception. Successful SaaS adoption comes with certain prerequisites.

SaaS is primarily focused on using standard software. While many SaaS packages offer configuration options, building customizations within the application is often not possible. This includes not only programmed code but also functions, fields, and alternative ways of meeting specific functional requirements. If your current flexible on-premises or hosted package relies heavily on this kind of customization, you will lose functionality, which can impact business processes.

The situation described above, with extensive customizations and detailed configurations, typically indicates a culture of specificity. Employees, from users to directors, are accustomed to submitting requests that are then fulfilled. In this context, technology follows the process. Transitioning to SaaS also means shifting the approach and culture: technology follows the process. Standard by default, with very few exceptions. Is the organization prepared for and aware of this mindset shift? Or will functional administrators become the bearers of the "can't do" message after the transition?

Let's not forget about integrations. Does the current application operate in isolation, or does it exchange data (employee data, customer data) with numerous other systems? Is this data interaction limited to reading, or are data enrichments involved? Does the SaaS solution offer these capabilities, and how do we secure them?

Lastly, the role of functional administrators changes. Instead of collecting requests, translating them for developers, and testing the results, they now discuss process adjustments initiated by changes in tool functionality and monitor application developments. They shift from request translation to supply translation. Are the functional administrators ready for this role?

SaaS or not: Weigh up the interests

So, should we avoid SaaS altogether? Many standard or commercial-off-the-shelf applications are transitioning to SaaS, whether we want it or not. Look at Office, for instance. It's essential to start thinking about SaaS now and analyze the points mentioned above. If they need addressing, a change management process will be required, which takes time.

Is this a strategic process where the competitive position depends on innovation and differentiation from others? In that case, "technology follows the process" doesn't fit, and considering customization as a successor to your on-premises package might be a more logical choice. In the next blog, my colleague Ron Mostert poses the question of whether the supplier is ready, and that's a valid counter-question. Read that blog here.

Doing it yourself or outsourcing remains a current dilemma. Highberg assists organizations as an independent advisor in examining this issue from a 360-degree perspective, considering both opportunities and prerequisites. We take your specific situation into account.

Standardizing and automating IT creates room for innovation. However, there's a flip side, such as the loss of distinctiveness. Or, how do you maintain control over security and privacy? Explore this dilemma here.

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