Over the past decade, the business world has dramatically shifted toward Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). In the public sector, the SaaS wave is just beginning.
What is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)?
Software-as-a-Service (Saas) is the cutting-edge, low-risk trend in technology that enables users to access data from any device with a browser and internet connection. Billed on a subscription basis, entities are given licenses to use modern software while the vendor hosts, maintains, and upgrades it remotely. While this may seem like uncharted territory in government technology, many of us already are familiar with SaaS through use of programs like Microsoft Office 365, Zoom, or Turbotax. These softwares are cloud-based, hosted offsite and users can access them on demand online using unique and secure login credentials.
In short, SaaS solutions are hosted securely on the cloud, accessed anywhere via the web, purchased on a subscription basis, and regularly maintained by the provider.
Why is SaaS the Future for Governments?
The SaaS model is a huge step forward from the traditional models of software which require custom builds, lengthy on-premise hardware implementations and ongoing maintenance. Governments have historically struggled with unwieldy IT infrastructure and have required major resource-intensive overhauls of outdated software. SaaS solutions are uniquely designed to address these challenges and meet the public sector’s IT needs more effectively and efficiently.
Unlike locally hosted solutions, SaaS solutions are hosted securely in the cloud, meaning firms and agencies no longer need to invest significant resources into building the IT infrastructure or worrying about scalability. Building and maintaining a custom solution calls for huge investments of time and effort, but with SaaS, government agencies can purchase an existing solution that is better suited to address their IT needs.
SaaS vendors have more engineering power devoted to building and maintaining their solutions than most agencies would have been able to provide on their own, allowing them to focus on their core functionalities rather than attempting to develop and maintain a cumbersome IT solution. Furthermore, because the software is already being used by other agencies, buyers encounter lower risk in purchasing a solution that is already up and running.
The SaaS model presents the public sector with better software options than cumbersome custom solutions which quickly become outdated. Government agencies across the country are beginning to prioritize cloud-based SaaS solutions as the way forward to modernize their IT systems.
What are the Key Benefits of SaaS?
SaaS means better software. Cloud technology is the latest development in software and cloud-based solutions generally employ state-of-the-art development tools, techniques and methodologies. Governments using SaaS are getting the latest and greatest technology.
SaaS applications are off-the-shelf, configurable solutions designed for quick and easy implementation. Agencies pursuing custom solutions require intensive IT resources which significantly set back implementation. With SaaS, government agencies can be up and running with better technology more efficiently than ever before.
Cloud-based applications have lower up-front costs and no maintenance fees, which could translate to major cost savings. Custom and on-premise solutions usually come with significant design, development, implementation, and staffing costs. With an upfront, inclusive subscription fee, SaaS avoids the expensive pitfalls of traditional solutions, offering governments low risk, cost-effective solutions.
The intuitive, user-friendly experience of SaaS technology allows staff to get familiar with efficient tools without requiring rigorous training. Mobility is also a key benefit of cloud-based solutions, enabling staff to do their work from where they need to be. Equipping a workforce with effective tools can promote staff retention and attract new talent.
Regular Updates, Low Maintenance, and Easy Scalability
Traditional custom-built software tools often require intensive, periodic maintenance by dedicated staff who know the system. With SaaS, agencies do not have to worry about spending significant time and effort on upkeep; vendors are responsible for regularly maintaining their software to ensure it is up-to-date, secure and usable. Additionally, vendors of cloud-based solutions are able to continuously release new features and updates to their software, resulting in a software that prioritizes user experience and conforms to the latest security standards. Furthermore, modern SaaS providers build solutions using cutting-edge technology frameworks such as Kubernetes to facilitate rapid scalability.
Cybersecurity is undoubtedly a top priority for governments, and one of the biggest benefits of SaaS. Data on cloud-hosted applications lives in geographically disparate locations across multiple servers, facilitating cybersecurity, business continuity, and disaster recovery, lowering the risk of security incidents. Cloud-hosting providers are world-class tech companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft with unparalleled resources invested in cybersecurity that most governments simply can’t match.
Robust Data Interfaces
Top SaaS providers utilize bidirectional APIs to facilitate data flow to and from other solutions, meaning fewer data silos created by legacy systems. SaaS solutions with robust data interfaces allow agencies to push and pull data seamlessly across systems, greatly reducing the need for time-intensive data extraction. Modern APIs promote data quality, accuracy, integrity and facilitate collaboration and data-driven decision making.
Top SaaS vendors present agencies with numerous benefits including time and cost savings, state-of-the-art technology with regular updates and little maintenance, and top-notch security and robust data integration.
Advice to Agencies
Leading technology experts predict a major shift towards cloud-based solutions in government. Agencies looking to be leaders should embrace this move to SaaS sooner rather than later.
- The goal of a new system should be to improve the overall workflows of your agency so staff can conduct their work effectively and efficiently.
- When considering options don’t limit your agency to traditional solutions. Learn about innovative technologies that are making a meaningful difference in your sector.
- Consider your department’s procurement process – is it designed to attract antiquated solutions? If so, strategically assess the procurement process so that it welcomes modern technology that can empower your organization rather than tie it down.
- Draft RFPs that are open to SaaS: let competition flourish by staying platform-agnostic and open to all types of solutions, including the smaller but most innovative vendors.
- Look for proven solutions with quick and easy launch processes and straightforward costs.
- Avoid custom solutions with long and intensive design and implementation phases and complicated payment structure with potentially unforeseen costs.
- Look for vendors with transparent, available and responsive teams (sales, support, account management, and product)
- Avoid vendors with inadequate support and little incentive to keep the solution up-to-date (these vendors will traditionally have histories of failed, costly projects).
- An ideal SaaS vendor should share the values and goals of your agency.
Technology has been the foe of government agencies for too long. Binti, like other mission-driven SaaS companies, is changing this. We want technology to empower civil servants, not bog them down. Cloud-based technology has greatly accelerated progress in the private sector, and is beginning to do the same for the public sector. SaaS providers can help propel technology in government through shared values and aligned incentives. We encourage any agency looking to upgrade systems to consider SaaS as the way forward. Let’s work together to use technology as a tool to make change for the better!
Questions on how to make the move to SaaS? Binti can help! Send us an email to email@example.com and we would be happy to provide you with more information.