Software as a Service

For May my posts are on specific technologies. NZ’s TechWeekNZ event is on now, so I am also aiming to mention some Kiwi firms leading the way in the featured technology. 

In the past few years, the software installed on your computer has changed from a product which you buy to a service that you subscribe to. This is known as Software as a Service (SaaS).

The technology which sits behind this is actually cloud computing, but I wanted to focus on the software subscription element for this post.

The example many of us are aware of is Microsoft Office. Previously you would have run one version of Office until your company purchased a more up to date version. As you will recall, this meant IT staff arriving to update your computer at inconvenient times and then down time for weeks afterwards as you hunted around to find things as the updated Word and Outlook were now laid out differently.

What are the advantages for individuals and companies who subscribe to software rather than purchase software as a product? The benefits include:

  • the software provider is responsible for rolling out the updates rather than IT staff in each company – so updates occur quickly and any quick bug fixes are rolled out promptly
  • all users are using the same version so it is easy to colloborate on documents with other companies
  • a company can scale up and down between price plans as it’s business and number of employees change
  • it is affordable as ongoing cost is fixed and regular compared to big upfront  investments
  • as it is cloud based, it can reduce the hardware needed at the business; and
  • additional functionality can be opted into if desired (and are convenient as a payment system is already set up for the regular subscription payment – maybe this is a benefit for the software provider rather than the user!).

 

SaaS in NZ

A SaaS success story in NZ is Xero, the accounting package. It has had great success in its target markets overseas.

When I became self-employed last year I was pleasantly surprised to see how great Xero is for accounting and business operations generally. Whilst I still struggle every now and then with the accounting lingo and how to categorise things, the actual process of entering bills, expense claims, creating invoices and reconciling statements is very easy with lots of options to automate regular tasks.

It also works great as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. It can be linked to Outlook to manage contact details and manage email correspondence. Given all the lengthy and bureaucratic processes in government and corporates to track time and money, using Xero is a breath of fresh air. It takes less time for a Xero user to make an expense claim or create an invoice than the equivalent process in a big organisation where the process involves multiple humans all performing a set part of the task.

SaaS in Resource Management

Most of us in resource management are not good at maximising the productivity available from modern software. There are three parts to the problem:

  • we under-use the features of the software we do subscribe to
  • we fall to link up different pieces of software to automate the flow of work from one program to the next
  • we fail to explore new software which would assist our efficiency.

We hear lots about robots taking jobs, but the robot which will disrupt your job is not going to be sitting at the desk next to yours – it is the ‘smart’ functionality built into the SaaS that you use for your job. Let the robot embedded in your software do its job and don’t do tasks manually yourself.

We can explore this more in a one-on-one training module, see Training Services.

Modern software is designed to automate all sorts of mundane work flows, and it is a shame to do this yourself when your computer is loaded with software sitting around waiting to do this for you.

 

Image source: Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

 

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