SaaS has been becoming a very popular software delivery model thanks to its convenience. Most SaaS products are web and mobile applications that do not require installation and users pay a monthly/yearly fee for using the product. Those factors make Software as a Service a great solution for both the provider company and users. In this guide, we will show you how to build a SaaS product.
How to build a SaaS application
The most common scenarios in how SaaS projects start are either converting your existing product or building a SaaS application from scratch. Let’s focus on each of those individually.
Converting an existing app
Analysis Evaluate your application potential compared to existing solutions on the market. Go through its features and integrations. Think about whether you want to introduce a new features model or some of it you can get rid of. Think about the conversion process like giving a second life to your product as cloud SaaS.
Building a team Converting to SaaS will mean that the way you and your team maintain and support the product will change. Train your team in advance, so they are prepared for those changes. You can also look for some external support and outsource SaaS development.
Choosing a cloud provider If your product will be available online you need to host it in a cloud environment. Pick a few providers and compare them paying special attention to team experience.
Migration The migration itself might take some time, so be patient. This will depend on the complexity of your product, your team’s expertise and necessary integrations. Hiring SaaS experts will definitely shorten the development time. Also, remember that in some cases moving project to a new technology or rewriting backend/frontend may be necessary, so take it into consideration in estimations.
An example of a conversion from on-premise software to a SaaS business model can be Adobe. Back in the day, you were able to buy a physical copy of Photoshop, whereas now it is connected to a monthly subscription plan that can also gain access to other Adobe products. The fee is much smaller than the cost of a physical copy of the program and allows you to update it. What is more, you can get a free trial period to test out Photoshop with no bounding contracts.
Building from scratch
Market analysis The longterm success of your product depends on good market research, which gives you an insight into your competitors and the demands of your potential clients. This research will give you validation and help you avoid repeating the mistakes of those who failed. You need to make sure your target customers are willing to pay for your product and that your offer meets their needs. Make sure your business model gives them clear and recurring benefits and is attractive to a large audience.
Choosing a technology Obviously, not every technology will be suitable for your product, so choosing the right one is an important step in the process. Your choice will influence future work and possibilities but also the time of development, cost and effort. Potential risks and the overall success of the product also depend on your technology choices. You will need tools for developing client-facing components, something for deployment on the server-side, a database for the back-end and a server. Remember to always have the long-term future of your product in mind.
Creating a team If your existing team is not ready to take on the development you will need to hire experienced developers or at least somebody you can consult. SaaS is a commonly outsourced development as remote teams bring a lot of opportunities (see blog post linked above). Many startups, as well as big enterprises, recognize those advantages - you can read all about it in our article Top SaaS Companies That Outsourced Software Development.
- Developing an MVP Starting with building a minimum viable product is very common. This will give you shorter development time and the opportunity to test your product among real users. The feedback gathered will tell you a lot about the features of your application or its limitations. Launching a prototype will identify strong and week points of your product and give you time for improvements before the launch.
Although building a cloud-based application is not for every business case the model itself is gaining popularity because of its benefits. Many big enterprises switch to this distribution model like the above mentioned Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Word. Some widely popular applications like Spotify, Slack or Grammarly were built as a SaaS application from the beginning.
If you are considering converting to SaaS or developing a new SaaS product and would like advice or outsource the development, contact us. We will be more than happy to help you grow!