When the solution becomes a blocker.
If you want to implement a business idea immediately, SaaS is a real lever: It has never been easier to implement executable prototypes in record time in the shortest possible time.
Whether Wix for landing pages, Shopify for eCommerce or Billomat for invoices: you can get started right away, technical hurdles are reduced to a minimum.
So why build your own infrastructure at all?
We regularly get asked this question as a WordPress agency. A simple counter-question exposes the problem of SaaS:
Can you handle a no vote?
You need a new function
When booking SaaS, you will not receive a service, but a product.
You will notice the difference at the latest if you miss a function – and an implementation is simply impossible.
Don’t be under any illusions: It doesn’t matter how simple or complex your requirement is – you are at the mercy of the service provider. With new functions, however, this not only has your requirements in mind – but also those of all other customers. An adaptation of the software usually means that it must be just as meaningful and correct for all other customers.
Much more often, however, you will receive a rejection directly or only the answer that your request will be gladly accepted, but no confirmation has yet been given as to when it will be implemented.
Regularly, nothing happens for years and it is then not implemented – as with our feature request to Billomat. This is perfectly fine from the platform operator’s point of view and acceptable in most cases in view of the price/performance of many SaaS.
So if you can deal with one at some point or no and in case of doubt are more willing to change your business processes or product requirements – then everything is fine.
With individual software development, you usually do not have the problem – you set the priorities as the client and critical requirements are implemented.
SEO & PageSpeed
They have a picture-perfect website, but no visitors. They have a lot of visitors, but they don’t walk. Time for SEO & PageSpeed optimization
An extensive analysis of your SEO agency or web agency gives you clear recommendations for action and it quickly becomes clear: The selected SaaS offers you hardly any opportunities.
Quickly create slow websites.
Because most SaaS website builders want to impress above all with a rich feature. It is not the optimal technologies that are chosen for you, but those that work as stable and error-free as possible on millions of websites.
They usually have no influence on which browsers are supported, how fast the website finally loads and whether they represent real SEO blockers.
For example, for years it was impossible to set up multilingual shops in Shopify, which are also correctly recognized by Google.
Multilingualism was simply not provided for, then only possible in the admin area and after years from 2020 then finally also for the frontend.
This was catastrophic from an SEO point of view – then only the unsubscribe button is missing to carry out the shop from Google completely.
Has the carpet ever been pulled from under your feet? That’s what it feels like when a critical business application is shut down and set to soundless.
Whether Google buys and closes the SaaS service just to put the developers on their own products or continued operation is simply no longer economical: As a customer, you are now usually alone.
They not only have to find suitable alternatives, adapt their process to them and migrate their data sometimes laboriously – if at all possible. They also have limited time.
In the worst case, the SaaS servers are switched off overnight or an important function for you is simply removed – you can then do nothing more.
Too Big to Fail? There is no such thing in IT!
MySpace incessantly deletes 50 million songs and destroys an important cultural history.
Facebook is removing over 1,000 ad optionsbecause they were underused — some highly optimized advertising campaigns immediately became worthless.
Prepare for the worst case scenario at SaaS as well! How prepared are you through backups and interfaces if a critical service is terminated overnight or only a short period of time remains for a change?
Of course, not all risks can be ruled out and the use of SaaS certainly makes sense in many cases – a solid SWOT analysis is also applicable to SaaS.
Assets for whom?
Lean startups are in vogue: focus on the essentials, lean structures.
We celebrate the underlying concept, it rewards courage and demands short-term results – better than dying in the ivory tower in planning beauty.
Lean is not called Shallow.
However, prototypes should eventually create real values for your company – ideally, you not only expand market knowledge, but also technology. Only then will you maintain your lead over the competition.
So it is important to switch from exploration to the exploitation phase for divisions that are already functioning. And that doesn’t just mean standardizing the processes and increasing their efficiency and quality. But to bring data and structures back into the company – as completely as possible.
An offer you might want to decline.
When using SaaS, you are not the master of your data and structures, not even your processes – everything lies with the SaaS providers.
They have complete insight into your stored data, structures and processes are even specified.
For Amazon Marketplace sellers, Amazon has regularly proven to be a pact with the devil – for example, when the sales volume skyrocketed.
SaaS means that you get a product “as is”. When it comes to data protection, this regularly means grey areas or real violations, against which you usually can do nothing except wait or change the service.
Here, too: As a startup, you don’t read some legal requirements quite as conservatively as you would as a multinational corporation and just use the SaaS first and hope that you won’t be checked too closely by a data protection officer.
In the end, however, you are playing with fire, because if a SaaS does not fully comply with the GDPR, you also have a legal problem:
There are penalties of up to 4% of your worldwide annual turnover or up to 20 million euros – whichever is higher.
At the same time, the recommendation is to invest a similar share of sales annually in IT budgets, i.e. in the development and maintenance of your own technology.
Then it would be better to build up assets than to have to fear penalties.
There is no absolute security and in the end success proves the software as a service providers right – but only for a while.
After all, usually only real processes are digitally mapped – no more and no less. A SaaS solution that is right for you now may no longer fit tomorrow or endanger the existence of your company.
It is therefore important to have a balanced technology mix that enables agile prototyping and ensures high cost/benefit efficiency.
Don’t underestimate the value of building company-specific technology for you. For the exploration phase and for non-critical applications, continue to use SaaS where it benefits, but make yourself independent as early as possible.
As a web agency, we advise you holistically. We find solid shortcuts through SaaS and at the same time support you in building your own technology in your company.
About the author
Matthias Bathke is Managing Director of straightvisions GmbH. As a GDPR expert and PageSpeed evangelist, he is keen to develop stable and efficient solutions for our customers.
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