The SaaS market is getting its pace, and several vendors are reaching out to the cloud and launching software services. As the time and effort required to go to the market are less compared to enterprise software, the numbers are high, and some of the offerings may not be SaaS at all.
These providers with limited exposure to the domain, software services, etc., may exit instantly if there is a delay in break even or even be forced to leave due to stiff competition.
Are you able to check the features, sign up for a free trial, and get the application's feel? If not, make sure that the vendor is confident of the offering.
Does the vendor reveal the pricing on the website with clear terms? That ensures that the vendor is comfortable with the market and consistent with the offering.
Does the vendor publish terms of service explicitly in the cloud portal? If the answer is no, quit from the outlet immediately.
Ask these questions and also conduct thorough research:
Who is the management? What is their experience?
Does a VC firm fund it? Who is it?
What are their financials? How many customers do they have?
What is the organizational structure? How many employees? Where are they located?
How many employees are there in the product development and support team?
What is their product roadmap and strategy?
How are they managing their product strategy? Competition, market, positioning, customer requirements? How is this communicated, and how often?
How do they accommodate customer requirements into their product strategy? Is there a customer advisory council?
Do they provide a trial or proof of concept of their product, including new features
Verify the vendor's physical contact address(es) by making a call to the telephone number given or some other means. Can you log service tickets online and track its status? If not, issue resolution is going to be a tedious activity for you.
Can you switch from a trial/ free account to a regular version? Can you subscribe/ stop certain features, increase the number of users, change the mode of payment, etc., on the go. If not, overall effort and dependencies on the vendor could be high.
Most of the HR SaaS vendors package the offering with standard features, which could be enabled or disabled or, in other words - configurable. However, being a customer, you may require a part to be customized. If the vendor has no capacity or technology to take this up, you may land in a soup.
Does the vendor allow customers to import data on the tool and export data outside? If no, there is a big chance of vendor lock-in, and it is a high risk.
Most of these vendors could be focused on relatively smaller domains, making a customer subscribe to different tools for various solutions. At the same time, you may require data integration between specific mission-critical tools. Does the vendor provide APIs to achieve integration?
Review all security aspects of the cloud service, including application as well as a data center. Mostly, data centers belong to any of the third party. Verify the data center credentials and particulars.
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Check the background, experience, and visibility of the organization behind the cloud. It could be extremely risky to depend on an entirely new entrant in the market for a business-critical application.
Once you adapt to the tool's environment, you may like to create more users with specific rights and use the system conveniently. If the software service is mature, you can expect these facilities from it.
Verify reports and check whether there is a provision to make user-defined reports.
Can you monitor the usage - number of users, bandwidth, etc. Can you track billing, the amount paid, pending, etc.? Can you find the system's audit log? These are critical evaluation parameters of a mature SaaS application.
Anybody can publish specific clauses as SLAs. However, verify whether the vendor follows the SLAs published. Also, while following SLAs, do they follow process standards? You should not be at the mercy of a vendor.
Check for testimonials/ case studies, if available, and speak to those customers and collect their feedback. Ask for specific customer references from the vendor if you are specifically looking for a particular business domain or a geographical region.