Large companies have always reaped the benefits of purpose-built budgeting, planning and reporting applications; while mid-sized organizations have had to rely on readily-available, inexpensive and easy-to-use applications like the spreadsheet. While spreadsheets are good desktop personal productivity tools, they are not collaborative planning applications. The good news is that there is an excellent alternative available to both models today.
Software as a Service (Saas) is the most powerful and exciting development in enterprise software in over a decade. SaaS solutions solve many of the problems that have long plagued traditional enterprise software offerings, such as large upfront license fees, long implementation periods, complicated upgrades, and poor support. Fundamentally, the SaaS model simply provides better value to customers.
SaaS is a software delivery model in which softare and its associated data are hosted centrally (typically in the Internet cloud) and are accessed by users using a thin client, normally a web browser over the Internet.
In its simplest form, SaaS is web-based software delivered on demand and paid for on a subscription basis. The end-user need not maintain specific hardware or load software to run the application; all that is necessary is access to the internet. SaaS eliminates the need for individual organizations to buy, deploy, and maintain IT infrastructure or application software.
SaaS solutions are ofter based on multi-tenancy architectures, meaning a single instance of the software runs on a server and can serve multiple client organizations (tenants). In a SaaS implementation, the vendor takes care of the support, training, infrastructure and security risks in exchange for recurring subscription fees.
Therefore, total cost of ownership (TCO) is reduced, access is available to any user who has been granted a log-in and software updates are available immediately to all users without the need to install upgrades on the user’s computer.
SaaS can offer economies of scale and skill that are not possible in traditional, on-premise deployments.
Benefits of SaaS Based Budget Planning over Other Models
In recent years, the SaaS model has flourished at an astounding pace because of the benefits it offers to all types and all sizes of organizations. In addition to the cost advantag, the SaaS model offers numerous benefits over traditional licensed software approaches including:
- Reduced Technology Risks. SaaS effectively eliminates technology investment risk and leaves no scope for additional hidden costs that usually arise over traditional application life-cycles i.e. ongoing support, maintenance costs or risks related to user acceptance. Software upgrades are usually cumbersome, starting from re-implementing and testing the compatibility, functionality and performance of the new configuration. With SaaS, this costly and risky process is eliminated.
- Reduced Infrastructure Costs. SaaS applications are hosted by the service providers, so customers are not required to invest in expensive infrastructure. SaaS vendors typically host the application in their own data centers providing all the maintenance, backups, upgrades, and support activities-with no customer IT or application management hassle. By reducing the burden of internal IT staff, SaaS helps school districts to direct limited in-house IT resources towards more important district needs.
- No Capital Outlay. Another reason for school districts to move to a SaaS model is the switch from IT capital expenditures to IT operational expenditures. SaaS requires no capital outlay for enterprise-class software purchases or upfront licensing costs. With SaaS, you replace costly upfront licensing fees with smaller, subscription-based pricing which are fixed, predictable and easy-to-understand. This results in considerable saving through precise financial planning savings. All the burden of capital expenditures is also shifted to the SaaS provider and it would be their responsibility to deal with purchasing server equipment, maintaining data centers, networking equipment and internet hosting fees. The main advantage of using IT operational expenditures to fund the SaaS service is that it represents a real cost of doing business and the customers only pay for what they use through subscription fees.
- Faster Deployments. In the SaaS model, the application is up and running in a very short timescale. Since the solution is delivered via the Internet; SaaS completely eliminates installation and set-up at the customer’s end. This quick start experience and low upfront costs makes it a very appealing model to a wide range of organizations.
- Single Source. SaaS vendors architect their solutions for a one-to-many, or multi-tenant mode, instead of building their solutions to run as separate, individual instances for each customer as done in the case of on-premise or dedicated hosted solutions. This means that the cost of all software, infrastructure and expertise is shared by a large number of customers. This drastically improves implementation speed and cost effectiveness over a standard model.
- Streamlines Use and Management. SaaS vendors take responsibility for running and managing everything: servers, operating system software, databases, installation of updates, ongoing backups, power and cooling, network access, data center space, and more. This shifts the IT burden from the customer to the solution provider. Automated upgrades to new versions of applications and functionality mean that in-house IT can focus on other projects and initiatives.
- Improves Reliability, Performance and Efficiency. Being web-based, budgets implemented with SaaS are available anytime and anywhere that there is an Internet connection. Multiple users can work together at the same time from multiple locations and contribute to the school district budget.
Make the Right Choice for Your School District
A growing number of organizations are adopting SaaS IT models, and all the market research available indicates that this trend will continue. The benefits are many. Maintenance, management and support requirements become the responsibility of the SaaS provider. Costs associated with those requirements are either reduced or eliminated. IT personnel needs are eased up and growth can be more effectively planned and managed. These benefits and more, add up to an attractive model for organizations who need optimized software solutions for their budget, planning, and reporting needs.
For more information visit www.mybudgetfile.com.