SaaS stands for ‘software as a service’ – or the supply of software, usually on a subscription basis, over the internet. There’s no need to install and update software – it’s all done for you by the supplier.
The easiest way to understand SaaS is to imagine the Hotmail account that many people use. You go online, you sign up, and then you have an email inbox that functions as a mail delivery and receipt service – but you never actually hold any Hotmail software in your hand. The software is hosted externally (in the cloud, where the data is stored in a network of servers) and licensed and delivered via your internet browser.
SaaS goes by many names – names like browser-based or web-based software, cloud software, on-demand software, and hosted software are all common. SaaS applications typically run on the provider’s hardware. The provider manages access to the application, including security, availability, and performance.
Think of it as a type of outsourcing – handing over creation, implementation and maintenance of a particular software to the experts so that you can get on with doing what you do best.
Chances are that you’ve been using one or more types of SaaS for years.
What is SaaS used for?
The SaaS model can be used for a wide range of tasks, and is especially useful for core business functions.
Among many other programs, customer relationship management, sales, projects, accounting and HR/payroll software can all be delivered via the SaaS model. The service is usually paid for via an annual or monthly subscription fee, which covers the cost of licensing the software and usually includes a component to cover service and support.
What are the benefits of SaaS?
The biggest advantage of SaaS solutions is that they take away the hassle of installing, storing and upgrading software – it’s all done for you online. All you need is your computer or tablet to view and interact with it. With no more stressing about maintenance of software and hardware, it frees you up to focus on your business.
Subscription-model SaaS means that businesses only pay for what they use and aren’t tied to onerous and costly infrastructure upgrades. The flexibility and scalability of SaaS solutions make them a good fit for growing businesses. Turning a significant capital expenditure into an operational expense also helps to put enterprise-grade tools within reach of all types of businesses – large and small.
Everything remains in the cloud to access whenever and wherever it’s convenient to you. MYOB Advanced is an example of a subscription-model SaaS service, designed for bigger businesses. You can access your data on MYOB’s externally hosted software via any web browser, which means you can stay on top of your financial, job-related and staff information on the go.
SaaS lets your staff run software packages in their web browser on their computer rather than as an application on their desktop. This makes it easier for staff to work on the go and hotdesk between computers, while simplifying software licensing. Central storage also ensures staff are working with up-to-date data.