1. Realistic Expectations — Many people misunderstand SaaS as being application hosting services and feel they can customize the solutions when needed. SaaS should be treated as vendor-hosted-and-owned applications that are ready for use by users. The expectations going into a SaaS arrangement should be that the software cannot be customized. However, most SaaS solutions will allow customers to configure or brand the solution for their use.
2. Clear Business Objectives — It is important to have clearly articulated business objectives for acquiring SaaS services. What business requirements need to be addressed? Is reduction of expenditures the driver? Are you seeking to simplify the internal IT infrastructure? Clear business objectives will lead to better success in evaluating and selecting appropriate service providers and solutions.
3. Selection of First Project — Begin with a project that has clearly defined requirements and standardized processes. This first project should not involve a solution where data security and privacy are critical, and it shouldn’t be a project with challenging infrastructure and support requirements.
4. Services Evaluation — When evaluating solutions, look beyond the hype. Ensure that the solution contains the functionality and features needed and that the solution and vendor are mature. Evaluate the scalability and flexibility of the solution for accommodating future growth. Depending on how critical the services will be to your business, assess the vendor’s operations for high availability, disaster recovery, and security. Finally, make sure the vendor’s services and fees are clear, easy to understand, and fair.
5. Integration — When considering external services, it is important to research how those services will integrate with the internal business processes and systems. Be prepared to change internal processes and technologies to enable use of SaaS.
6. Risk Mitigation — Risks should be identified and assessed as part of the vendor evaluations. Where services have been acquired, risks of the solutions should be identified and mitigation strategies put in place. For instance, how do you mitigate loss of connection to the vendor? Or how do you handle unauthorized disclosure of company information?
7. Performance Measurement — Establish key performance measurements that will be used to evaluate whether the business and IT objectives are being met. These will also be evaluated against the contracts and SLAs to determine compliance.