In recent time, there have been a lot more SaaS businesses that are starting up and this is a very good development. The SaaS business has seen quite a lot of growth and has attracted the attention of many individuals and companies. These organizations floating are more and more applications in the cloud.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a type of software licensing and delivery model in which the software licensed by a third party is delivered to clients through the internet. Unlike in the case of locally hosted models, clients that go for a SaaS model do not have to install the software, update it, maintain it and integrate it. The vast majority of technical aspects are “taken care of” by the SaaS provider so that the client can start using the SaaS product with little effort.

With SaaS, users don’t have to suffer with software configuration. They can simply use the software. Thanks to the internet, SaaS is available to users anywhere in the world and from every device. There are also differences between the SaaS model and traditional software model as far as developers are concerned. Even after a SaaS product is launched, developers don’t stop working on it. Developers continue to optimize and update it. SaaS apps (such as Amazon Web Services, Salesforce, Box, and Concur) are optimized and updated by many developers. So it’s necessary to meet the needs of a large audience to make them profitable

How to build a SaaS Platform and Application

In order to build a SaaS platform, you will need to have an extensive knowledge of programming. However, you will need to need to know which programming language, which database, which software tools should you choose.

Be that as it may, the starting point for building a SaaS application should not be with the actual SaaS platform. You should start by having a full understanding of your project, knowing the type of customer to create the product for and why they will want to use your product. You should do well to also research similar products in the market, and understand how you can make money with your app.

Most importantly, you should make sure that launching the product as using a SaaS model is a good idea. The SaaS model is not the best idea for all types of projects.

  1. Programming languages you will need: Building a product for the cloud means building a product with a modern programming language. Besides personal abilities and skills, the choice of your programming language will be influenced by the possibilities of each language. SaaS applications are essentially to be built in cloud. The software that is required to be assembled. The programming language to be used, the software tools to be deployed and the language which will be used in building up the application must be decided in advance. A lot of brainstorming is required to be done in order to select a suitable programming language to create a SaaS application. Here is a basic breakdown of the tools and programming knowledge you will need in order to build your SaaS latform and application.
  • Server-side SaaS Development Tools:
  1. Ruby on Rails
  2. PostgreSQL
  • Client-side SaaS Developemnt Tools:
  1. Bower
  2. Foundation of Zurb
  3. AngularJS
  • Hosting and Systems Administration:
  1. Heroku
  2. Amazon Web Services (specifically S3)
  3. Namecheap
  • Saas Development Tools for Payment:
  1. Stripe
  2. Payola
  • Email:
  1. Drip
  2. Mandrill
  • Testing:
  1. RSpec
  2. Capybara
  3. Jasmine
  4. Teaspoon
  • Analytics:
  1. Google analytics
  2. Mixpanel
  3. Baremetrics

 

  1. The perfect database: one of the first things you will need to do will be to install a database. A document-oriented database is recommended when building a SaaS platform or database. Document databases are quite different to the traditional concept of relational databases.

Document databases get their type information from the data itself. Thus, every instance of data can be different from any other. The advantage to this is that it allows more flexibility, more so when you are dealing with changes. An additional benefit is that it also reduces the database sizes and provides a richer overall experience.

2. Queuing System: A normal SaaS application essentially makes use of asynchronous communication protocol in which the sender and receiver do not have to necessarily communicate at same time. Web applications run at different time and communicate asynchronously with third party.

3. AWS and EC2: Amazon Web Services helps in executing web pages and also assists in performing high speed batch jobs. In addition to this, installation of EC2 inclusion of new servers and resources easily.

4. Web Storage S3: It makes available storage highly scalable. It is easy to use, simple and makes it extremely easy to store and retrieve the data.

5. Content Delivery Network: It is a simple arrangement of distributed servers that helps serve content to users accessing the content from different locations with high performance and availability.

6. Integration of Word Press with SaaS: Single site solutions that have everything that users require can easily be extended on to SaaS by help of different roles, capabilities and subscription based payment plans. Every user of the application gets a more granular control and separation of concern with more security.

SaaS applications are developed in the same way a conventional web or mobile application is developed and must be properly structured, designed and tested like traditional applications. SaaS reduces the need to have costly hardware and installation charges associated with them. Some of the most common examples of SaaS applications and platforms common today are; Salesforce, dropbox, Google Apps et al.

Challenges of Developing a SaaS Application and Platform

  1. Lack of trust: One of the most important resources in SaaS application development is trust. No trust equals to no customers. This issue is quite pronounced when working with the SaaS model because personal user data is saved by the SaaS provider. Large companies do not face this issue because of brand loyalty which is something that a newcomer will not have. To deal with this, don’t just tell everyone about your security, show your security. This is the job of designers: your logo, user experience (UX), and user interface (UI) must demonstrate your security and confidence.
  2. Small target audience: choosing a niche for your SaaS application that is too narrow is always a dangerous thing to do. You have to bear in mind that as a software provider, it is up to you to update your app on a regular basis and constantly optimize it. If your target customers are very few, your work will prove to be unprofitable in the long run. One way to surmount this will be to expand the functionality that you offer. This is one way to attract a more universal buyer persona. You need to conduct business analysis to understand the demand, competition, and trends in functionality.
  3. Poor idea: the idea for your SaaS app, can make or break it. For instance, there’s no sense in developing a CD recording SaaS app in 2018. Ask yourself, what will my app accomplish? The answer shouldn’t be record CDs, as this is the result, not the problem that the app solves. Your app might allow people to save and share data, for example. When your developers see this idea, they won’t think about a CD recording app but rather will think about cloud storage or a database model. There are no bad ideas; there is only poor execution of good ideas. Developers need to understand this at the business analysis stage.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop a SaaS App?

The cost that is involved in developing a SaaS app varies greatly depend on a number of factors. For instance, it is quite obvious that the cost of developing a massive application like Google drive will be remarkably different from the cost for developing a simple SaaS project. Big ambitions are costly. There are a few categories of costs when building a Software as a Service product they are;

  1. Business Analysis and Design: The cost of SaaS development depends on the scale of your project, the number of functionalities, and specific characteristics. This stage costs about $3,000 to $5,000 per month and lasts for around two months.
  2. Server Costs: Cloud-based SaaS architecture means lots of server usage. Hosting is the main cost of a Software as a Service application. As the number of users increase, it is expected that this cost will also increase. Hosting costs from $30 to $8,000 per month depending on business scale and number of users.
  3. Monitoring Software: For your server and apps to work correctly, you’ll need to have monitoring software. Constant monitoring is important if you want your SaaS product to work properly. Just like the cost of for the server, this cost will also increase as your business grows. Monitoring software costs about $3,000. For advanced applications, the price can rise to $50,000 because large companies use fat services, so they need powerful monitoring software.
  4. Development and Support: Creating a SaaS application primarily consists of building prototypes, testing, gathering feedback from customers, fixing bugs, and launching. This cost can vary due to the complexity of the software, number of features, and size of the core audience. The cost of development and support starts from $15,000.
  5. Marketing: if you don’t promote your app, no one will know that it exists. You can promote your app with inbound marketing (content making) and outbound marketing (advertising) strategies. Marketing will cost about $3,000 per month after launch.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building a SaaS Platform or Application

  1. Undervaluing your product: fixing the right price for your SaaS is not usually easy which is one of the reasons why many any companies end up undervaluing their products and services. To avoid this issue, start by looking at your competitors’ prices. Even though the price you should fix should not be based solely on the price of your competitor products or services, their price can go a long way to inform the price you will choose. When thinking about pricing, startups will tend to try and provide more value for a cheaper price. This way they can cut out the incumbent solution and win business. Selling the same product for the same price rarely works.
  2. Providing insufficient customer service: When you’re building a SaaS product, one of the last things on your mind will probably be customer service because in reality, your main focus will be to create a very good software as a service product. As you build your product, think about what your customers need and want. In fact, you’ll want to keep them in mind as you create and establish every facet of your business.
  3. Dismissing passion: You don’t need to be passionate about building a SaaS product, but you’ll probably be more successful — and happier — if you are. When you are considering what your SaaS product will be, try to align your offering with an area you’re already interested in.
  4. Forgetting about the competition: with the many advancements in technology, building a SaaS product has become easier than ever. More companies are fighting for space in the market, and if you want to compete, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your competition. Unless you have a very unique idea, there is a very large chance that there are other companies that offer similar services to what you have in mind. If you want to compete with them, you’ll need to stay up-to-date on their offerings and successes.
Ajaero Tony Martins