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SaaS Platform Development: What Is It and How to Get Started

SaaS platforms have become incredibly widespread with this transition to the digital plane this translates to great interest and demand in the SaaS branch of software engineering, a topic that we want to examine.
Nov 4, 2020
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Long gone are the days when companies relied entirely on paper schedules, graphs, calendars, and sketchpads to conduct their business operations and organize workflow – most of these tasks are now done with various programs and digital solutions. Software as a service (SaaS) platforms have become incredibly widespread with this transition to the digital plane, and millions of companies and consumers alike have adopted them. All of this translates to great interest and demand in the SaaS branch of software engineering, a topic that we want to examine.

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What is a SaaS Platform?

Software as a service can be described as any set of software distributed through the web and made available to businesses and users with some form of payment attached.

The easiest way to think of SaaS is a digital one-size-fits-all solution that a person or company can rent for a period of time.

As such, these platforms are quite different from standard digital products, whose copies users buy and own indefinitely. They also tend to be different from licensed software, which can be distributed through discs and rarely demands frequent payment.

Caveat: Some sources use SaaS only referring to web-based services and cloud solutions. While it is true that most of these platforms are only accessible through web browsers, they are hardly indicative of the concept as a whole.

Why Switch to the SaaS Business Model?

This model of service distribution carries multiple advantages both for the company that develops the software and the users or businesses that subscribe to it. In fact, some of the benefits make it superior to traditional software purchasing or licensing.

Pricing will attract a large user base

To recoup the costs of software development and maintenance while making a profit, many companies attach a big price tag on their product, but this discourages many potential clients. On the other hand, the dominating payment system in SaaS is subscriptions: users typically make monthly payments for as long as they want to use the service. With each regular payment being only a tiny fraction of what a complete purchase cost would be, businesses no longer need to pay a massive sum upfront and will have more incentive to choose your service over competitors.

Total accessibility on devices

Another factor that can make your platform highly appealing to users is deployment on the web. Many enterprise-focused solutions have limitations in the types of devices that can run them, but not web-based services. PCs, tablets, smartphones, and a wide range of other device types feature web browsers, so being able to access your service on all of these devices is a major selling point. With web deployment, there is no installation process required, and customers usually only need to pass a login form to start using the service.

Convenient updates and scaling

The web-based nature of most SaaS platforms also makes it easy for the developing company to update the app and scale it up/down. Any changes made to how it works take effect immediately for all users, and they do not need to go through any file downloads or waiting screens. The development process also tends to be much easier because only one version of the application needs to be built, in contrast to separate versions for iOS/Android, PC, Mac, etc.

Providing quick access

Unlike the majority of apps that require download and installation, web platforms can be accessed much quicker. If you take into account that businesses are laser-focused on driving up efficiency and eliminating avoidable delays, this could be a major factor driving customers to your solution. After all, it is much easier to share a link to a website than to ask people to install a mobile or desktop app.

Protect your IP

Unfortunately, theft of IP (intellectual property) is a prevalent problem in our age, but there are ways to minimize the hazards. For instance, web-based SaaS is much more difficult for competitors and malicious actors to steal, as they cannot easily gain access to your application’s source code. On the other hand, desktop and mobile software are much easier to crack and take advantage of.

A wide range of use

From general-use productivity apps to enterprise programs geared towards a particular program, the range of SaaS solutions is incredibly diverse. Thus, companies operating in a wide range of industries and verticals can take advantage of them. Some of these areas include:

Healthcare icon

Healthcare
Agriculture icon

Agriculture

Education icon

Education

Marketing icon

Marketing

Energy icon

Energy

Manufactury icon

Manufacturing

Entertainment icon

Entertainment

Retail icon

Retail

Types of SaaS Platforms You Can Choose

You have a wide range of options when it comes to delivering your service to users. It will be up to you to pick the user experience, interface, and other facets of the service, or you might entrust some of these responsibilities to a SaaS development agency. You should start with the following selection:

Web app

mailchimp saas service

This is certainly the most popular choice, offering great convenience to both providers and customers. You can deploy your application directly on a website and have users access it through a login system. After that, they can access all of its features and functionality in tabs or windows, while working on projects and other tasks in parallel.

MailChimp. This platform is centered on businesses marketing themselves through email tools. Users that create an account can choose several directions for promoting their business, and do it all in the comfort of their browser.

Mobile application

todoist saas service

SaaS on mobile refers to both applications that require payment for download as well as payment to access key features. Without payment for the service, the mobile application can be partially or fully unusable, depending on the publisher.

Todoist. This application helps businesses boost productivity, let employees organize their tasks more efficiently, and see the bigger picture of company-wide cooperation. Users who pay a monthly premium have more access to the top features of the service.

API

zendesk saas service

SaaS does not even need to have an icon or run as a program, as long as it provides some functionality helpful to users. Thus, you can develop an API that can be integrated into the existing software of enterprises and only function well when it has been paid for.

Zendesk APIs. Zendesk offers a variety of APIs and integration tools for businesses, with a major focus on CRM. When compatible, these tools can be combined with existing software to deliver improved performance and expanded functionality.

Browser plugins and extensions

Surfshark SaaS service

Instead of requiring a visit to a particular website, plugins and extensions can start working as soon as you open your web browser, and enhance the experience. This might mean augmenting the browsing experience or just using the browser sidebar as a launching point of the service.

Surfshark VPN. Like many other VPN providers, Surfshark works directly in a user’s web browser and allows them to connect to servers in numerous countries. The extension features a miniaturized login screen which must be passed to access the features.

Custom platforms

Dropbox Saas Service

Certain SaaS platforms break the mold of what we expect from this type of solution, and can be developed to run on desktop platforms and sometimes tailored to just one company instead of a global base of users.

Dropbox. This popular file hosting and sharing app has multiple versions for web and mobile, but the desktop one is interesting in the fact that it offers optional paid functionality and storage and supports quick drag-and-drop of files without even needing to open the browser.

Basics of SaaS Platform Development

If you are considering building a SaaS solution, you should know the peculiarities involved in their development. In particular, these applications should be designed with secure payment and authorization features in mind, as well as a robust backend. Looking at the requirements, please keep in mind that every SaaS software development project is unique, so there will be some variation depending on factors like scale, targeted devices, server demands, and others.

Team Composition

To deliver even the most basic app, a minimum of the following specialists is recommended:

  • 1 Project Manager
  • 1-2 UI/UX designers
  • 1 Business Analyst
  • Several developers (front-end and back-end)
  • 1 QA engineer

As a rule, the faster you want the project to be completed and the more advanced the functionality that you want to implement, the more experts you will need.

Tech Stack

On the back-end side, you will need to build an app to manage the service and configure APIs and other integrations, such as connecting to MYSQL and AWS or Azure. On the front-end side, your developers will probably work with various frameworks of Javascript (if the service will be web-based) or other languages like Kotlin, Java, C++, Objective-C, or Swift if you plan on building native apps. It is also common to use .net for SaaS platform development.

Costs

Speaking in simple terms, there are three major costs involved in the development of these platforms – development & design, hardware & maintenance, and marketing. Given the high rates normally paid to experienced developers, it is most likely that the development and design will make up the bulk of your expenditures. Nevertheless, you can cut costs by hiring from a country with accessible rates for good specialists, such as Ukraine.

Check Out Our Past and Current SaaS Platforms

Program-Ace has been providing SaaS application development services for over a decade, and this has allowed us to accumulate an impressive portfolio of apps, platforms, and other digital solutions. Here are some of them:

MR.Ace

MR.Ace is a unique solution developed and owned by our company. The ”MR” in the name stands for mixed reality, an immersive technology that the platform is geared towards. MR.Ace helps enterprises quickly create their own 3D models with interactive features and build a training program with them, meant to boost the skills and knowledge of employees.

Cine-Book

Cine-book is a storytelling platform developed for a client, which brings stories to life in spectacular ways. Stories are shared through a special web player we built using React Native, and users are able to easily switch between listening, watching, or reading them, depending on their preference.

Je Pilote

Jepilot

Je Pilote is an accounting solution built to be accessed on multiple device types. It allows enterprises to get a handle on the copious transactions and financials conducted throughout the year and better manage how this information is reported. It also provides helpful insights and analytics about the company budget, expenditures, etc.

Though SaaS platforms are rarely easy to build, our specialists enjoy these challenges and have not failed us yet in completing them well. If you have any such project in mind, we would love to hear from you and serve as the SaaS development company of your choice.

You can start today – Just Contact Us!
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