October 23, 2019

SaaS development has become one of the most reasonable and frequently applied business tactics for the new software product launch. Its popularity is growing extremely fast along with the number of advantages to be chosen for. Whenever your company comes up with a new idea of developing the software, the SaaS application will be the best option so far. You will definitely favor the maintenance, distribution, licensing and security options.

 

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a delivery model on a subscription basis and centralized hosting. Users also prefer this approach as they can choose among the subscription plans and offered functionality. They have the ability to access the software via the web browser from different devices. In this article, you will find the most important details on SaaS software development implementation.

List of Contents

SAAS DEVELOPMENT

The question of why SaaS product development has become so popular can be answered by looking at the advantages of software development and overall maintenance. Meanwhile, the users have also acknowledged the distinctive functionality that differentiates these products from regular applications for desktop and mobile platforms.

We should mention accessibility since the customers can easily start their applications on different platforms via the Internet using just a browser. Since the data is stored in the cloud, they are not bound to use the same device all the time. Another thing is that users get rid of on-premise downloads and it doesn’t take any space on the customers’ devices.

SaaS software development is a reasonable choice for businesses. It will be much easier to deploy your product. The software runs on the server, so your project requirements won’t depend on numerous configurations of every platform. Maintenance and updates are faster to be implemented as well. 

Moreover, SaaS application development is a flexible solution for businesses that want to keep pace with rapidly-changed technologies. This distribution model enables them to enter the market faster and deliver the latest features within a short timeline and reasonable cost. At the same time, the customers have also emphasized this product as a budget-friendly option due to the subscription pricing model. Users have the possibility of using up-to-date and fully functional software products.

SAAS DEVELOPMENT LIFE CYCLE

Every company that is interested in building and marketing the application successfully has to be familiar with the SaaS development life cycle. It ensures the continuous delivery of the product and efficient implementation. Consider the following phases of SaaS development life cycle.

SaaS development Life Cycle

Envisioning

The business strategy is an essential part of any development. Always start with finding business opportunities and ways to attract new customers. Taking into account the distinctive abilities of cloud services, identify the value you are going to deliver. In addition to the development strategy, you should think about the marketing strategy way ahead. 

Platform evaluation

Making a choice on the SaaS application development platform, remember that it should acquire certain capabilities. Since the final architecture has to acquire great performance, reliability, compliance, scalability, the chosen platform has to provide the necessary tools.

Planning

As long as you have defined the necessary requirements, it is time to plan step-by-step implementation and focus on the development solutions. Your project plan should cover details regarding not only its functionality but timeline, cost, and required specialists.  However, it should be divided into stages and suggest the long-time vision options.

Subscription model

It is an important step in the SaaS development life cycle to acquire a production quality subscription. In order to make the right decision on the cloud platform and the central hosting model, you should trial the chosen services and prepare all the required documentation. Reach the necessary level agreements and make sure that your subscription covers the backup and recovery strategies.

Developing

Here comes the development – building the core features and creating scalable software architecture. The custom SaaS development process always goes along with testing. One of the often-used approaches is A/B tests to evaluate the performance and iteration. You couldn’t exclude testing as it enables the overall functionality.

Operations

This phase is exceptionally important for deploying all the operations. They should correspond to the level agreements, security, compliance and shared infrastructure of the cloud services. It has to cover the specifications of the previous stages that have already outlined the ways of service deployment in production.

HOW TO DEVELOP SAAS PRODUCT

When learning how to develop a SaaS application, remember that you need to deliver some value. It should introduce the concept that is relevant to the needs of the targeted audience. As a rule, this type of application includes functional tools, management of the account, analytics, etc. All these features should be collected and presented as one attractive and functional application. Simple and clear navigation, the user-centered design will help to make a good impression on your customers. Their dashboard shouldn’t be overloaded with unnecessary features. It’s true that the app has to include as much functionality as possible however the customers won’t be pleased with confusing and pointless interaction within it. 

For example, you want to create a SaaS application for content collaboration that helps to organize the business data. It could include document management, file sharing, search engines, communication channels, etc. Like any other application, you can start with the simple SaaS features and add the advanced ones gradually. Do your best to make the registration quick and simple. The users have to be provided with effective and fast ways of collaboration. The file-sharing feature has to include share, view, edit, comment options. The search engine is required for sorting files and also provides quick access to them. Some advanced collaboration applications could include inbuild tools for communication like live chats, voice calls, videos, etc. In short, this model is an ideal solution for delivering complex functionality. The point is that more advanced features should be presented to the users gradually as they move through their learning curve and get familiar with basic actions.

SAAS DEVELOPMENT BEST PRACTICES

This model is widely applied and newcomers can learn how to develop a SaaS product from the success stories of numerous companies like SFDC or HubSpot. In general, all of them are leveraging the same tactics developed over the years of the market presence. We have gathered some of those SaaS development best practices in the list below:

  • Scalability – The main advantage of these apps is adding capacity. Handle both vertical (limited by the size of the server) and horizontal scaling (building the logical unit that works on different hardware and software). 
  • In-app support – Due to the data the applications deal with, they are rather complex ones. Therefore the users’ support could be delivered via the detailed tutorials, live chats, etc.
  • Omnichannel approach – it is the support strategy that will unify the customers’ requests and keep records of the previous interactions to simplify the coming ones.
  • Data protection – No SaaS product development can be completed without data encryption. Try to find all the possible ways to guarantee a high level of security. 
  • Frequent updates with greater value – Customers have to benefit from using your application. You should understand your users’ requirements and keep improving on a regular basis to deliver the best app functionality.
  • Integration strategy – It is common that companies migrate from one to another app or use a few of them at the same time. So it might be essential to exchange data and support interoperation between them. 
  • Service fees – The customers are choosing this approach not only for convenience and provided features, but they have found it money-saving. Instead of paying for installation and following updates, they favor the subscription approach.

SAAS DEVELOPMENT TOOLS

Today’s technology offers a great variety of SaaS development tools to build a valuable product. As a matter of fact, we will try to focus on the technical aspect of developing the product. This software obtains the complex architecture that is delivered by means of different frameworks, libraries and SaaS developer tools. Selecting the tech stack, you definitely need to discover all the pros and cons as well as decide on the cloud services provider. Since every provider works better with a certain programming language, you need to find the perfect combination for your product.  So what are the most popular SaaS development tools?

Server-side technologies

Those technologies do not differ from the common server-side web development ones. You can choose among RoR, NodeJS, .NET, Java, PHP, etc. All these programming languages have their own benefits to be applied. The main requirements are easiness to use, customization, available documentation, and strong community support. You can check for more details on server-side frameworks here.

Front-end technologies

It is quite easy to make your choice here, as JavaScript frameworks have successfully gained their leading positions at the market share. Angular, React, Vue.js are known for the distinctive functionality to deliver excellent UI/UX designs. Learn more about popular front end technologies, pros and cons of each of them in our article dedicated to this topic.

Cloud platforms for hosting and maintenance

The majority of SaaS companies use third party providers for the hosting of their products. On-premise hosting would be extremely expensive in their case not to mention a tremendous cost of developing anything close to Amazon’s platform for cloud management. Cloud platforms like Azure, Google Cloud, AWS, Heroku and others offer a wide choice in terms of hardware, supporting software, and DevOps tools. 

To give you some examples of their distinctions, AWS was among the first market representatives. This platform offers flexible, fast and reliable solutions for any type of application in the cloud. Azure is known for its consistency and flexibility. Its scalability allows managing resources according to business needs. As for easy implementation and deployment, a lot of companies go with Heroku.

SAAS DEVELOPMENT TEAM STRUCTURE

Learning the overall process won’t be enough unless you adopt the right SaaS development team structure. You can start setting the team on your own or apply for the services of the professional SaaS development company. In both cases, you will need the same specialists to deal with your application. Moreover, the team structure is quite similar to the web development team. 

Consequently, its structure consists of the project manager, cloud solutions architect, back-end and front-end developers, UI/UX designers, QAs, administrators and DevOps specialists. Collaboration and performing the tasks properly will deliver a successful market product. 

Cloud solution architect maps the architecture of the web application to ensure stability, performance, security, proper load balancing, nodes distribution, etc. The project manager is responsible for planning and estimation details as well as management of the overall SaaS development process together with a system architect. It is obvious that back-end developers deal with the server side, while front-end developers handle the user side.

Take into account the number of developers required for your project as it is common to set small back-end and front-end teams that have a few members. For example, you can hire the senior developer for complicated tasks whereas the junior specialist will be a great assistant to deal with regular ones. Hiring the professional UI/UX designer is also a key to success since front-end developers will implement the provided design. Moreover, customer experience mostly depends on how well the app is arranged and presented to them. Testing is conducted during every stage as it determines the quality of the final software.

Arrangement the team won’t be hard when you know your needs, choose the technology stack, decide on the app complexity, estimate your timeline and budget.

HOW TO DEVELOP A SAAS PRODUCT STEP BY STEP

Discovering the important details on how to develop a SaaS application, we have prepared a simple step-by-step guide that will help to implement your idea into the valuable market product:

Concept definition

Market search will greatly help to come up with a unique concept. As long as you define your audience, you need to deliver special value that differentiates your product from other competitors.

SaaS functionality

The point is that the chosen features should correspond to the customers’ needs. Think about the app functionality as the simplest and fastest way of meeting their expectations. The core features should present your initial product concept. If you want to know more about this stage read our article about system requirements specification documentation development.

Tech stack

Since the technologies vary from project to project, your choice should depend on the main features you want to present. Some functionality can be better delivered in one language than another. For instance, PHP has nice tools for statistics and computation. It’s recommended to choose the technology that has a supportive community and open-source library with comprehensive documentation. Depending on the applied programming languages, it will be greater to adopt the best matching cloud platforms like Azure for .NET or Heroku for Java.

Budget

Planned features, the number of specialists, technology stack will outline your final costs. At the same time, this type of application is the cost-efficient solution for business as you can serve a huge number of users without high-end infrastructure expenses. Check our big research on average web application development costs to get the idea of how much SaaS product development might cost.

MVP app

Building the basic app version facilitates the overall delivery process and helps to market your product. You have a chance to target the right audience and add improvements due to the customers’ feedback. Find out more details on what is minimum viable product and how it works here.

Constant Improvement

Saas is the perfect solution for businesses due to the ease of maintenance and update options. Both companies and users favor the convenience of these applications and correspondence to the latest market trends.

IN CONCLUSION

SaaS product development has become one of the most reasonable and up-to-date solutions for many businesses. The distinctive delivery of services has proven itself over the years of the market presence. Choosing this approach, you will obtain the ability to maintain, distribute, license your product in the most convenient ways.  We hope that this article has helped to discover the core details of SaaS web development and suggested new ideas for its implementation. 

If you have any additional questions or need a professional consultation – feel free to contact Existek. We are an outsourcing software development company that has built a number of SaaS applications with different business concepts. For further assistance, you can fill in the form at our contact page or start a discussion in the chat widget on the right.