SaaS and Customisation

SaaS and Customisation

SaaS and Customisation

Author:  Justin Hannaford, Liqueo Senior Consultant

 

Software as a Service (SaaS) products offer clients the benefit of a fully hosted and supported service without the need for technical knowledge or costly infrastructure. This article gives an insight into whether you should consider customising within a core-product that is part of a SaaS solution.


To facilitate effective support and seamless upgrades, SaaS implementations are designed to deviate as little as possible from the vendor core-product. However, each client is different and most, if not all, introduce a level of customisation to support their bespoke operating models and workflows. But is there a point where these customisations begin to hamper the ability to easily support business-as-usual or to enhance or upgrade the product?

Before we address this question, let’s discuss some advantages and disadvantages of customising a product in a SaaS environment.


Advantages


Differentiation: The ability to customise an application means clients can deliver a unique, bespoke solution to their own clients. This is a powerful mechanism that sets them apart from competitors and can be used as a marketing tool when pitching to prospective new clients. 


Flexibility: Customising provides solutions that do not exist in the core-product. This enables clients to design unique workflows or solve end-to-end process issues. Clients can design the entire process so “nice to have” becomes “able to have”. In addition, as a client grows over time, their needs will also likely change and may not be met by the core-product. The ability to deliver any solution, at any stage, is essential to meeting client requirements.

 

Disadvantages


Development: Each new customisation - or change to an existing one - will require a vendor developer resource. This process will incur additional costs to develop and require extensive testing before being used day-to-day. Costs and delivery time vary greatly depending on the size and complexity of the development - but in each case there is a monetary and time cost involved.


Support: Because customisations deviate from the core-product and are usually unique to the client, they can be more time-consuming and problematic to support. A SaaS support team will generally be unable to resolve these issues and a vendor development resource may be required to investigate and resolve. The code sits with the vendor, so the client has no visibility of how the process works technically. Issues cannot generally be resolved as quickly as ones relating to the core-product itself.


Upgrading: Each time the product is upgraded, all customisations require developer review and potential re-coding. This is time consuming and requires extensive regression testing by both the vendor and client - to ensure that the process works as expected in the new environment.

 

In Summary 


In answer to the earlier question - of whether excessive customisation can be a hindrance? - customisation is a powerful tool to deliver solutions. It works in conjunction with extensive native functionality of the product, giving each client a truly individual product. But this needs to be tempered by the fact that with each and every customisation, the client moves further away from the vendor’s product and road-map. Solutions that initially meet a requirement, can, over time, become unwieldy and difficult to support. Eventually, they may not even meet the changing requirements of the client. 


It’s to be expected that clients, looking for a competitive edge, will push the boundaries of what can be done in an application. It’s a fine line, but there is definitely a point where too much customisation will start impacting support and performance of a system.
Here at Liqueo, we provide organisations with the skills to implement programmes successfully through our flexible workforce model, tailoring solutions for our clients’ strategic goals. We deliver an exceptional, bespoke service to every client via a dynamic and agile framework. If you are interested in how we can help you implement successful programmes or want more information about customisations in a SaaS environment, contact us.
 

 

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