You moved to SaaS. Now what?

Virtually every organization relies on SaaS products. And there’s a reason why enterprise-level, on-premises software has been vital to the engine of global commerce for so many years. However, privacy, end-to-end control, service-level agreements, uptime, and customization introduce restrictions to security, functionality, and performance. Add to these issues a global footprint and multiple SaaS solutions and soon the promise of SaaS simplicity isn’t so simple. According to BetterCloud, 69 percent of enterprises estimate that most of their apps will be SaaS by 2020. Now is the time to address how prepared your IT is to manage them.

Integrating multiple SaaS applications to meet the comprehensive needs of a business is complex. In fact, most enterprises rely on a host of SaaS solutions to run HR, supply chain, employee communications, time recording and expenses, CRM and more.

As SaaS solutions become vital to operations, you might find yourself in the familiar role of making sure that they’re integrated, available, responsive, secure and functional —even if they’re not on premises.  To create a successful SaaS model, you need to plan how to manage critical issues to keep the easy-to-use premise of a SaaS solution alive and well. Focusing on these three areas is a good start:

  • Manage multiple SaaS vendors
  • Maintain control of your data
  • Continually add business features with a better user experience (UX)

Manage multiple SaaS vendors

One of the key values of SaaS is its continuous improvement, enabled through regular updates and upgrades. However, to keep current, you need timely regression testing to accept an imminent time-bound upgrade, continuous enablement of your employees, customers and business partners, and the ability to take advantage of new features. You must plan to synchronize the changes from your multiple vendors – including dedicating resources to administrative oversight, technical depth and management.

Be sure to decide what kind of support you need when you’re in the midst of events like mergers and acquisitions (M&A), period close, HR reorganizations, budget cycles, policy updates and the like. Keep in mind what service level is adequate to maintain your operations without interruption. Consider what level of support to expect from your SaaS vendor and how much the vendor understands the interoperability of your full SaaS landscape within your operations? And remember, in a high-severity event, you need an established protocol well in advance.

Maintain control of your data

Complex regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, PCI-DSS, mandate that you secure and protect your master data. Ultimately, the primary ownership remains with your firm. Your business partners, customers and employees don’t care about what solutions you’re running when their data is compromised. In this digital era, enterprise data is a precious commodity and must be protected regardless of what SaaS solutions you selected, interfaced or integrated.  Managing data also means managing data portability. After all, no one wants to be locked into a software solution forever and your incumbent SaaS vendors might not be inclined to help you. With your protected data and clear business requirements, you can easily switch to another SaaS solution that offers you richer features, ease-of-use and a better UX to improve end-user productivity.

Continually add business features for a better UX

We’ve all become accustomed to new features on our mobile devices; the same is true with enterprise SaaS solutions. They’re easy to use and continually enhance — it’s frankly why SaaS is so popular. If you have an HR SaaS solution, you’ll want to take advantages of its new features, such as a simpler way to onboard employees, provision their devices and enable their access control. Such tasks can be challenging when a new feature of one SaaS solution is interdependent on other existing or new features from another SaaS solution.

An example of this situation is using the HR SaaS system to track a salesperson’s performance by linking it with the sales pipeline from the CRM SaaS system. After you configure the new feature or modify a higher-level feature that you’ve custom-built to your enterprise, regression testing is required for one or many SaaS systems, with timing that’s usually controlled by each SaaS vendor.

Coordinating these changes with the business is vital for operational continuity. To do so, you need a deep bench of IT talent to monitor alerts, fix bugs, diagnose incidents, act preemptively and communicate with your SaaS vendors. The volume of tasks can quickly escalate to the point where your simple-to-use SaaS ecosystem now demands a robust approach to SaaS application management.

IBM enterprise-level SaaS support

What if you could weave the on-premises functions into your SaaS applications? IBM offers a three-tiered approach to enterprise SaaS users that can help you do just that.

This flexible, use-as-you-need approach provides as little or as much assistance as you require to help ensure that you get all of the benefits of SaaS while helping to keep your enterprise uncompromised.

  • Value-added services: You manage your core needs effectively. However, you might need help when upgrading products, adding business features, interfacing with new systems and extending the API with new microservices.
  • Run and manage: You’re stabilized and have the know-how to add new business features, perform integration work, deploy microservices and extend the API. However, you need help “keeping the lights on,” such as alert monitoring, incident management, and adding and removing services as your needs change. In this tier, the use of intelligent automation can’t be overemphasized, especially when offshoring is extensively deployed at most firms. Here’s where AI comes into play. With the IBM® Automation with Watson™ solution, the power of AI is available. AI can be used for monitoring and analyzing; risk anomaly detection, such as identification of financial discrepancies; data warehouse upgrading and reconciliation; KPI matching; predicting potential performance deterioration; self-healing; and other related health checks.
  • Foundation and basic services: Your in-house team manages the applications, but you find the need for subject matter expert advice, counsel and support from any of the previously mentioned areas on an as-needed basis.