The Covid-19 pandemic provided the right ecosystem for the growth of the SaaS industry. Businesses learned to rely on software for their organisation and work meetings in the wake of the mandatory lockdown. The lockdown has since been lifted, but SaaS products have come to stay, and businesses require the service of at least one SaaS vendor to meet their needs.
The market for SaaS services has since grown from quarter to quarter, and every year, there are several SaaS vendors. But with so many choices comes the problem of choosing the right vendor for your business needs.
So, how do you choose the right SaaS vendor for your business?
Taking a systematic approach makes the process easy, and in this article, we outline some important steps to take.
Create a List of Your Business Needs
The first thing to do when looking for a SaaS vendor is to make a list of what your business needs. Do you need software for team management and projects? Do you need software for bookkeeping? Does your business have special needs that regular bookkeeping or team management SaaS services may not have? Will you need to customise the software when you get it, and in what ways?
This list will guide you when choosing a vendor. It eliminates time wasted on a broad search and dump. With your list, you have a specific target, which will shorten the time and resources needed to secure a SaaS vendor.
Outline the Negotiables and Non-Negotiables
Sit with your stakeholders and decide what services and perks are negotiable and which ones aren’t. Consider data ownership and protection, licence use, etc. These are super important points outlined in the SaaS agreement you’ll eventually need to sign.
Some businesses wait to start curating this list until they enter talks with a vendor. That may work for some businesses, but it is better to make this list early, even before you start your search. Most of the worm in finding the right SaaS vendor for your business is knowing what your business needs. If you streamline your search for SaaS vendors successfully, you’ll have very little work to do afterwards and negotiating SaaS contracts will be smoother.
Make A Budget
Next up, decide how much you’re willing and ready to spend on this SaaS service now and when the subscription runs out. If you’re running a new business and don’t yet have a regular income, consider this when making a budget. You should go for something you can afford now and in the future, even if you currently have money for something more expensive. And, for instance, if you’re using a Divvy card for expense management and your vendor is located in another country, there’s one thing to keep in mind as well – Divvy foreign transaction fees.
Having a budget solves two problems. It focuses your search and also helps during the SaaS contract negotiation stage.
Curate a List of SaaS Vendors
With these three steps complete, it’s time to search for vendors. Search for SaaS vendors using the lists you’ve made in the first three steps as filters. For a wholesome search experience, use Google, check out the competition and check on social media forums where vendors are discussed.
From your search, make a spreadsheet list of SaaS vendors that offer the services you’re looking for. Your list could be anywhere from five to ten vendors as long, depending on how big the search sample size is.
If you’ve gotten here, kudos! You’re on the right track, and you’re halfway there. This step begins the second stage, which is the elimination stage. In this stage, you eliminate SaaS vendors until the last man stands.
Review the lists you made at the beginning of your search. Then, start researching the different vendors. Find out if their actions match their words. Thank God for reviews and social media forums. They can be a wealth of information, especially when asking for reviews. Ask people who had used their services before how their services faired. Does the price match the value offered? Do they renege on the deals of the contract? Are there any empty promises they’ve made on their website to entice new businesses?
At the end of this review, your list should have shrunken a bit.
Reach Out to SaaS Vendors and Make a List
There are a couple of vendors on the list, and here’s where things get serious. It’s time to reach out to them. You’ve googled them, seen reviews, and read their websites. Now, it’s time to speak to them.
Here’s a tip – go prepared and be very open about what you need from them. Open communication lines almost always end up in a smoother process. No vendor on your list will be a perfect player, so during your meetings with these vendors, bring up the areas they aren’t ticking on your list. Ask for an open negotiation line during your first talk. Some vendors will be willing to work with you, while others might not be flexible enough to. Drop the vendors in the latter group and move to the next stage with the vendors in the former.
Choose A SaaS Vendor
After talking with a few SaaS vendors, you’ll know who best fits your business needs and who you’re most willing to work with. This stage is simply where you decide which SaaS vendor is the first on your list. When you do, proceed with more serious discussions about acquiring their service.
Find Out If They Give Free Sample Solutions
This isn’t a step as much as it is a tip. When finding the right SaaS vendor, ask for free sample solutions. These are like those free for seven days deals. The purpose of getting a free sample is to give your team experience working with the service. If it isn’t the best fit, you’ll know before signing a contract.
Ask For A Service Level Agreement (SLA)
A service level agreement outlines all the services you, the buyer, expect from the SaaS vendor. This includes subscription lengths, Software security, backup, scalability, etc. Go through this document with a fine-toothed comb because it also serves as a legal document. In cases when you feel like there has been a breach of contract on the vendor’s end, this agreement will either prove or disprove it.
Negotiate Your SaaS Contract
The last, but in no way the least step, is to negotiate your SaaS agreement. Some of the talking points to pay attention to when negotiating your contract include the following:
- Additional Costs;
- Termination Clause;
- Renewal Plan, etc.
No contract is binding at first. Negotiate for better terms. When negotiating a better SaaS contract, take note of these two key things. One is communication, and the other is information.
From day one, be clear about what you need. If it doesn’t work out with one vendor, it’ll work with another. Don’t compromise so readily on things that you wouldn’t want to compromise on. Communicate to the stakeholders on time so the process will be as fast and as easy as possible.
Also, do your best to have all information on the process. Are there discounts for small or large businesses? Does this particular vendor offer checkups? With the right information, you will renegotiate really good offers for your business.
Finding the right SaaS vendor for your business is challenging, with so many vendors offering great SaaS services. But you can avoid falling down the rabbit hole of searching and follow a detailed guide. The guide above outlines what you can do to find the best vendor for you.