Building any software product is challenging as one has to consider everything from usability to feature enhancements and SLAs. The market for SaaS products is growing, which means competition is increasing (including that from traditional desktop or client-server products that continue to sell). Customers can switch from one SaaS product to another at any time, so innovation and ease of use are important in order to retain customers.
Focus on one problem at a time, instead of trying to solve many of them at once. Focusing on one will help you see it from all angles so you can successfully solve it before moving on to the next. Choose a single business process and perfect it over time. This is the best strategy for your product.
Usability & Design:
UI is a key factor in any product’s failure or success. It is important to ensure that the interface, styling, colors, and pallets reflect your brand, following a defined design language across the product. Browser compatibility is to be kept in mind and you need to decide whether or not to support legacy devices, browsers, and more, depending upon what your UI demands are.
SaaS products are designed to be self-servicing. Involve your potential customers in alpha or beta testing to get helpful feedback. The honesty you’ll receive is invaluable.
To aid in the easier adoption of the design by a new user, include a walkthrough so that the users become aware of the interface and options available to them. Knowledge bases & Wikis can further help in the self-servicing needs of users. Customization of the layout by the user as per need is another intuitive way of making the users comfortable. Dashboards, such as those used in Google Analytics, that are completely customizable as per need, will help the users get the information they require faster.
Success or failure all comes down to which features set you apart from your competition and how well you implement them. Keep two lists – one of customer generated ideas and one of team generated ideas. Separate and prioritize all of these ideas. Use tags such as “must have”, “nice to have”, and “low priority”.
Always discuss all planned features with the development team before committing to implementing any of them. You never know when one small feature can end up having a huge impact on your budget.
Legacy and Third Party Integration:
Use the same software across your entire business. It is a bad business practice to have one department use a software that the other departments do not use, or that will not work with the software the other departments have. Having SaaS configured to “talk” to other software applications can help interlinking and exchange of data. This is where APIs come in handy and let you integrate existing enterprise software to your cloud, allowing access to information existing on any system across departments.
It is also a good practice to have the option of connecting to third party services via APIs, allowing you to expand functionality without the need of developing the feature yourself.
Companies that are completely new to the SaaS product development era have knowledge only about the product they are going to build and have limited knowledge on non-functional aspects of the service. They almost always won’t have enough time, cost, and resources to build the entire architecture, the base infrastructure, or framework to build their dream product on top. This is why it’s ideal to look for third party components and frameworks to build their SaaS product, such as for error logging, performance management, and even providing multi-tenancy.
Use of existing open source frameworks helps reduce development costs significantly. Companies such as WSO2 provide multiple open source products for implementing these integrations seamlessly. Big firms such as eBay have utilized these to power over a billion transactions a day. More information here.
Picking a language to code the software in – be it Ruby, PHP, Angular, Python, or any other frameworks to be used is a crucial step that decides all of your future technology needs and dependencies. Whether you need to have APIs in future or reuse code, all will impact this decision and the overall architecture of the software. Choosing a cloud provider is also based on these early decisions and need to be made wisely.
SaaS products are delivered using the cloud. Just because the cloud is scalable, doesn’t mean your application is. The application needs to be built to cater to customers from various geographies (if your market is global). You can scale vertically (by adding more resources to existing instances) or horizontally (by adding more instances). Whether or not you want to build a high level of scalability is also another decision that will impact your technology and features choices.
Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Azure are good for apps that need scalability features. For example, with AWS auto scaling, we can greatly reduce the risks associated with traffic overflow causing server failure. Auto scaling can reduce costs as well. Instead of running instances based on projected (assumed) usage and leaving excess resources in place as a buffer, we only run resources matched to actual usage, on a moment-to-moment basis.
Following the best practices for security of data is a must for any cloud application, especially those online. Encryption of data is a must, with the use of SSL logins. Such features ensure that only authorized customers are gaining access to your service. For complete security, ensure following:
- Pick trusted and known cloud providers and understand what security measures are taken at their data centers.
- Enable server monitoring and logs for everything.
- Use 3rd party security services like Cloudflare to monitor your network activity.
- Session cookies are a small but important step in ensuring security as well.
This security checklist is vital, and that is why we mentioned the hire of an expert to be the best way to go about deploying your cloud product.
Consider Non-Functional features:
It often happens that while shortlisting the features for a new cloud product, development teams overlook legacy non-functional aspects of software. These include monitoring, data recovery, and auto backups. While ensuring a feature rich application is important, developers and project managers should consider these non-functional aspects, which often get overlooked among the maze of functional features.
Adopt Most Viable Product (MVP) Strategy:
Instead of releasing a full-fledged application, it is always safer and more reliable to release products with just enough features to gather user validation. Gathering insights from an MVP is often less expensive than developing a product with more features, which increases costs and risks if the product fails, for example, due to incorrect assumptions. Focus on developing core features first and iterate with new feature additions to improve the core product.
Selective Release Strategy:
When releasing a new feature or addition to your cloud application, test the feature among a closed group of users instead of releasing it to everyone. This helps by restricting the possible issues faced by the users to a bare minimum. Feedback from this test group can immensely speed up the final implementation of the new feature.
Big Data and Analytics:
Big Data is one major feature that has been responsible for the success of cloud services. Using NoSQL databases such as MongoDB not only helps increase the performance of the cloud apps but also enables you to get more meaningful analytics out of the data.
Focus on SLAs:
If your cloud service is a par above the rest in the market, it is a good idea to advertise them and brag about it. SLAs can be a benchmark that set you out and makes you the number one choice for potential customers.
Keep the GUI malleable:
Don’t have the core software linked to the code in the interface of any application. This applies to cloud solutions as well. GUI changes are made much more often and should remain independent of the core functional features. Such disconnect among the both means that the GUI changes won’t lead to bugs in the core features, and will reduce multiple steps in development iteration.
Make it social and engaging!
Whether your SaaS service requires a social sharing feature or not, it is advisable to have some way of letting users share their use of your service, maybe even brag about something they created using it. Anything that can boost community of your product is a no-brainer and should be on the checklist of features to be implemented.
Special emphasis shall be put on the product interaction with the end user to keep them engaged. Contextual notifications, especially on mobile apps, wizards, almost instant chats are some techniques which can enhance such an interaction. Assume that users have short attention span and shall never be left wondering (…or hanging) on how to do something. End user shall be continuously guided, motivated and intrigued about what to expect next.
Hire The Right People:
Engineering a SaaS product from the ground up is challenging, to say the least. There are various issues that need to be tackled (scaling, security, workflows, billing, cloud deployment, configurations,) and figuring out the proper approach to all these problems can be very time-consuming. Save time by hiring people who already have built such products in the past. Successful startups use such specialists for their products allowing them to concentrate on their core competencies.
Pegasusone offers its own range of SaaS services with experts in deployment and development of SaaS products. You can check the details here.
Overall, following general project management principles throughout your development cycle will ensure that the product you build is delivered on time, within budget, with quality, and with the optimal use of resources. Having a product management mindset is also key, and every team member should understand that building a product is very different from working on projects. If your customers find too many bugs or issues, then there is a higher chance of them canceling and not renewing their subscriptions.
PegasusOne is a SAAS product development company, located in Orange County and Los Angeles California. Our SAAS product development strategy includes best practices in building a SAAS product to help you develop a robust and scalable application.
The best framework for developing a SAAS application is to focus on the best practices in product development when developing these products.
The best Saas products begin with attention to detail and solid project management systems to ensure a quality Saas development project. Our Saas developers continue their development and training throughout the year. We pride ourselves on being one of the top Saas Software companies in the Los Angeles, Ca area. Our Saas product development services are highly sought after. We set the bar for other software companies in California. Our best practices come from years of dedicated focus on developing successful Saas products for clients in California and from around the world. We are the MVP of software development outsourcing. View our Saas pricing examples to learn more about our software services.