How SaaS Drives Predictable and Lasting Customer Relations
Software as a service is not entirely new. At Synchronous we have always sold our product as a subscription (with rare exceptions). In today’s literature, the terms “cloud software” and “software as a service (SaaS)” are often used interchangeably. Software as a service, however, is a licensing and delivery model that recently became available on the cloud.
The concept dates back to the 1960s with centralized hosting of business applications. At the time IBM and other mainframe providers offered computing power and database storage to organizations worldwide from data centers. Yet SaaS appears to be a new and high-profile topic, especially on Twitter. It promises to be the next opportunity for revenue growth in computing services according to Gartner.
‘According to a Gartner Group estimate, SaaS sales in 2010 reached $10 billion, and were projected to increase to $12.1bn in 2011, up 20.7% from 2010. Gartner Group estimates that SaaS revenue will be more than double its 2010 numbers by 2015 and reach a projected $21.3bn. Customer relationship management (CRM) continues to be the largest market for SaaS. SaaS revenue within the CRM market was forecast to reach $3.8bn in 2011, up from $3.2bn in 2010.’
It’s not surprising that today’s software vendors are enamoured with the potential for revenue growth.
In the early days, however, one of the biggest reasons Synchronous offered a subscription model was based on our vision to provide one integrated solution. In the ‘80s, PC-based vendors purposefully separated their software into modules. I talked with many potential clients who rarely upgraded their software or paid for additional software modules. It is no wonder companies with outdated software complained about their inability to be current and competitive.
Our goals for enterprise software development beginning in the 80s included the following:
- The development of software focuses on ‘one solution’. The product includes all the modules or components of ERP including accounting, distribution, manufacturing and all upgrades. Of late it has become so large that it constitutes a complete ecosystem.
- Clients are encouraged to be in the current version with one central repository for business rules. Updates are frequent and always seamless.
- Development is always respectful of, and compatible with, previous versions. For Chris Cashin, CEO at Synchronous, the mantra is ‘You never break what comes before.’
Unless it was a third party product, we have always sold software within the subscription model: one product including all upgrades. Any customizations initiated by the customer or the Synchronous team were added to the software without additional upgrade costs. By contrast, many of our competitors charge for maintenance as well as expensive and frequent upgrade costs.
With Synchronous, any increase in the software costs were based on the consumer price index, which we felt was a fair and reasonable approach to software development. Consequently, the subscription model was driven by function and reason; resulting in a predictable and lasting relationship with our clients.
The following characteristics describe our approach to software as a service:
Synchronous ERP is rules-based, with business logic built into the system. Consequently, customers can personalize their software with unique requirements upfront.
Our core software package can be extended to achieve a wide variety of objectives with over 37,000 “Lego-style” modular objects.
Customization and Agile Software Development
At Synchronous ERP, the approach to custom development is different. We stepped outside the box to create a win-win scenario for our clients.
Wherever possible, custom software development is incorporated into the generic code. Furthermore, most requests are based on the practical considerations for clients with real needs.
Accelerated Feature Delivery
Synchronous users update frequently, sometimes even daily while the system is live. The applications have a single repository for business rules as well as single database. Consequently, we do not expend resources updating and maintaining backdated versions of the software.
With a single database that is scalable and robust, there is no need to import and export data from multiple software applications, which avoids compatibility issues. It is our belief that a single integrated ERP package eliminates the limitations of multiple incomplete architectures.
Collaborative, Team-Oriented Functionality
Synchronous ERP is based on a collaborative model, where organization and communication are integral to the business process. “Enterprise in Sync” means that all team members including Management, Accounting, Sales, Production, Distribution, Service providers and Project Managers can work in unison.
Users stay involved with relevant tasks and can share documents both within and outside the organization. Collaboration tools are integrated into on-premises software, and can also facilitate communication with outside users or customers through centrally-hosted software.
Saas in the Cloud
Software as a service provides an infrastructure and a model to rent or subscribe to software. With the advent of cloud technology, Synchronous has made new improvements to our mature, robust product.
Our cloud technology lets you host your software on-premises or in the cloud. We provide you with the entire platform and the guidance needed to implement either model. Regardless of whether you choose to host your ERP system on-premises or in the cloud, you get the same managed enterprise solution, complete with our email server and collaborative engine.