Five Features Every SaaS App Needs To Have

SaaS AppApplication development has come a long way over the past decade or so. We’ve gone from an era where apps were largely controlled by IT – an era where most everything was done offline – to one of constant connectivity. Software as a service is one of the greatest, most disruptive software developments in history.

And if you’re involved in development yourself, it’s one that could either make or break your firm.

By understanding how to tap into the cloud with your apps, you can bring yourself into a whole new market. Not only that, you can empower your own business, too. That empowerment starts with knowing what all the most successful SaaS apps on the market have in common.

Let’s discuss that.

Availability

The most powerful thing about SaaS is the fact that it allows users to login from anywhere at any time. Employees can collaborate and work, no matter where they are. Here’s the thing about that, though – your apps need to actually be available.

That means doing whatever’s necessary to ensure uptime and reliability. Virtualization is the key here. To that end, The Containers Expo Journal recommends the following steps:

  • Be Proactive. Don’t simply react to problems as they occur. Your IT department should actively manage and monitor any applications you develop. That way, you’ll significantly improve your uptime, addressing any problems that come your way before they happen.
  • Ensure Automated Failover. Redundancy – the strength of the cloud is that you’re able to easily ensure it. Your SaaS apps should therefore have failover baked in from the start.
  • See To Visibility. Visibility is extremely important to both virtualization and the cloud – and ironically enough, the cloud itself can be used to help your IT department better monitor your cloud app.

Ease of Use

Too often, modern IT boils down to a war between security and convenience. Unfortunately for you, the latter is more often than not going to win out. Due in large part to the surge of BYOD in the workplace, your users expect the apps you deploy to be as intuitive as the ones they use in their day to day lives.

Therein lies the challenge – you need to be capable of making your app easy to use without putting important business data at risk.

“When it comes down to it, most enterprises’ security concerns are centered on the lack of control and visibility into how their data is stored and secured with SaaS vendors,” reads a piece on Info Security Today ”There is a strong apprehension about insider breaches, along with vulnerabilities in the applications and systems’ availability that could lead to loss of sensitive data and money. Such challenges can dissuade enterprises from adopting SaaS applications.”

“The adoption of SaaS security practices – secure product engineering, secure deployment, GRC audits and regular SaaS security assessment – is vital to securing SaaS solutions,” it continues. “These can help identify any security issues upfront and ensure the safety of the data. SaaS vendors will benefit from the improved security of the solution and third-party validation of their security in the form of shortened sales cycles, and reduced operational risk. These measures will help them better answer any sales and marketing queries about security and address customer concerns.”

Documentation & User Support

What happens if a user gets stuck on something within your app? How do your clients and customers troubleshoot issues without causing an overt interruption in their workflow?

It’s important that you incorporate some sort of self-service helpdesk that allows users to troubleshoot minor issues on their own. Beyond that, I’d also advise implementing the following:

  • A well-documented guide that covers the different features of your application – what users can do with it, how to get started, and anything else they should know in order to use it effectively.
  • A feedback system that allows users to respond to changes, report bugs, and suggest new features.
  • A tutorial for first-time users.
  • 24/7 support for when the self-service help desk won’t suffice.

Analytics Tools

How are people using your application? When and from where do they sign in most frequently? Statistics will help your IT department make better, more informed decisions about your application – and providing those tools to your clients will do the same for them. Figure out which metrics are most relevant to businesses and users, and ensure they’re available.

Single Sign-On

Last but not least – and this ties largely into usability – you need to make authentication simple and streamlined. Support for single-sign-on is essential in that. Not only does it reduce the number of passwords employees have to remember, it makes your app more secure as a whole.

“As access to more corporate data is needed by professionals, IT must figure out how to simplify authentication processes,” explains Nubo Software. “Creating and implementing a secure Single Sign-on (SSO) process is becoming another must-have…Time is money. Having to remember multiple passwords or re-entering the same password multiple times to access the enterprise apps equals too much time being spent on menial sign-on processes, contradicting all the time-saving benefits mobility is supposed to produce.”

Closing Thoughts

SSO support. Analytics. Ease of use, availability, and documentation. These are all essential components of any successful SaaS app. When developing your own, you need to incorporate them.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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