How to Build a Business Case for SaaS
by Christine Cignoli on

SaaS has some great benefits, such as hands-off management, user self-service and reduced dependence on hardware. It also brings some business considerations that are different from the ones of the past, when IT was run very differently. For example, off-premises apps command monthly subscription fees rather than a multi-year investment. They’re run entirely off-site, cutting down on hardware needs. There are plenty of other benefits that can, and should be, quantified when you’re considering SaaS.

As cloud computing shifts IT workloads and processes, IT teams are becoming invaluable to the boardroom, acting as consultants to business leaders. IT team members are making decisions about which technologies will move the business forward, and how the company’s infrastructure should be architected to take advantage of cloud and other computing trends in the best way possible.

How do you build a compelling business case for the SaaS or cloud app that you know will make a difference for your team, and for the business users? Sometimes you may just have anecdotal knowledge of why it’ll work. But that probably isn’t enough to get the app purchase approved. There are both hard savings and quantifiable benefits of SaaS, as well as less tangible benefits to consider. Here are some tips on building the case for a SaaS app

1. Match application features with business needs.

One of our customers recommends defining your use case and clearly linking the app’s features with the results you expect to get (and that your CIO expects, too). He also notes that, ultimately, you get what you pay for. If an app seems pricey, make sure to explore all of its features to see if it’s a good fit. A cheaper product might meet fewer requirements. Those are important considerations to understand as you’re building your case.

When you’re matching features and needs, make sure to include IT’s needs and expectations along with a particular department’s needs. Using the deployment model of SaaS apps throughout the organization can save IT a lot of combined time and energy. For IT teams, SaaS apps can improve their agility and eliminate time spend implementing app infrastructure. SaaS also cuts down on maintenance and upgrade costs for IT.

2. Organize your expected metrics and outcomes before making your case to management.

For a SaaS app or cloud deployment, consider modern metrics like agility and utilization to prove value. This will, of course, depend on the state of your current infrastructure and whether or not you have an entrenched legacy setup with lots of hardware on-premises. Racks of servers are often underutilized, so a move to SaaS can free up a lot of space and resources. That leads to quicker turnaround on solving business problems or addressing demand spikes.

There’s a range of metrics to use to prove SaaS value. For example, salespeople who took full advantage of their company’s CRM system found a higher rate of success than those that didn’t, in one study. Which metrics might you consider for the teams in your company? Finance, HR, IT and sales will likely all have different needs and find different ways of succeeding with cloud-based tools. Consider which metrics or improvements might align with the tasks of the department that will use the SaaS app. Time saved, reduction in helpdesk tickets, faster turnaround time, automating manual processes and mobile access are all positive changes that SaaS can bring. Plus, saving time on manual processes and technology issues can lead to more time for new and innovative tasks.

3. Explain how using the app aligns with big-picture priorities.

A large enterprise may have some high-level goals to meet every year, likely with the revenue bottom-line as the real key. One important IT goal, especially today, is to add value to the company’s bottom line, and build systems that will allow business growth and success.

Every team needs the right tools. So consider company and department goals and how a new SaaS app might fit in. The finance department needs a super secure, accurate and available tool. Customer service needs to easily communicate with customers and offer self-service. And if IT is using the app, it should help automate tasks and processes. A huge number of businesses need to take application maintenance and refreshes off of IT’s docket so they’re freed up to pursue more innovative projects.

One final SaaS benefit is that it’s incredibly easy to deploy a small test instance of an application and see what kind of results you get. The path to cloud is paved with free trials. Take advantage and find what’s right for your business. Once you get your SaaS ducks in a row, pitch those new apps and services to upper management. Don’t forget that when you move to SaaS apps, you will lose visibility. Make sure to include a monitoring tool as one of your SaaS projects. You’ll soon be enjoying newfound free time for new projects.

Filed Under: Performance Monitoring

Tags: business and IT goals , SaaS