SaaS vs. Custom Software: Which is Best for Your Business?
Posted by Lacey Wilcox | April 21, 2021
Businesses of every size and industry share many commonalities, and one of those is that almost every single business can benefit from software of some kind. Regardless of what you do, software can help streamline your work, increase your team’s productivity, and save you money and time – all while allowing you to serve your customers more effectively. We can all agree that’s a win, win, win.
But a quick Google search for “software for small business” will literally generate over 3 billion results. And who on earth has time to wade through all of those options? Today we’re breaking those options down into two main categories: SaaS and custom software solutions. By the end, you should have a better understanding of both and how to decide which is the best fit for your business right now.
All About That SaaS
First up is SaaS, better known as “software as a service.” Don’t let the name intimidate you – you’ve probably worked with these tools on a daily basis. Software as a service (which will be referred to as SaaS for the rest of this post, because that is an absolute mouthful to say and type) is a model in which a specific software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted by the company who owns and provides the service. Probably our favorite example of SaaS is HubSpot. Each day, thousands of users log on to this software tool and view marketing analytics, create landing pages, write blog posts, and more. While each user owns certain things about their account (for example, if you build a landing page in HubSpot, you own the page and the domain), the tool is hosted and operated by HubSpot.
It’s clear why SaaS products are so helpful and popular. You have much of the innovation and efficiency of software, without paying the costs of building or hosting the tool. But, there are some drawbacks as well. Customizing your SaaS product can be difficult, and it might be impossible to create exactly what you want. You might also find that while a SaaS tool is helpful, it might not do exactly what you want it to. And if you’re investing any money into a tool, you want to make sure you’re getting exactly what you want and need for your business.
Custom Software Solutions
A custom software solution, on the other hand, is a tool that is uniquely designed for your business and your specific problem. It’s not designed to fit multiple businesses and industries, is completely owned by you, and can be customized to meet your needs as your company evolves and changes. This tool can take the form of a website, an application, or an intranet site, and it will be ideally suited to meet your company’s specific needs.
While custom software is designed to completely and perfectly solve your problem, there are some things to note. The first is that designing a custom software solution is a process. It’s worth the time involved, but it is not an instant solution. The second thing to emphasize is that this tool will require a higher upfront cost than what you would pay with a SaaS solution. But, it is a tool that you own completely and have full rights over. This means that if you ever wanted to take this tool and offer it for others to purchase, you have that right and ability. Your custom software could be used and sold as someone else’s SaaS. (How about that for a Jedi mind trick?)
How Do You Decide?
If you’ve read up until this point, we hope you have a decent understanding of the main differences between SaaS and a custom software solution. But, how do you decide between the two?
Here are a few questions to consider as you decide the best solution for your company.
- What is your budget? Your budget is going to be the greatest indicator for which choice is the best one for your company right now.
- What is your timeframe for this tool? Do you need a solution right now, or do you have the time to wait for a custom solution to be developed and built?
- What is your exact problem? The solution you need will also determine whether you decide to use SaaS or custom software. If you can find exactly what you need with a SaaS option, then that works for you. But if you’re tired of trying to piece together different online options to meet your need, it might be time to meet with a software development company and consider building a custom solution.
- What are your future goals? When you’re trying to find a solution, it’s so easy to only think about it right now. But how do you want this solution to serve your company in a year? In three years? Will this solution be able to adapt and change as your company grows and evolves? If not, is it worth the time and cost to choose a solution that will only need to be replaced in a year?
It’s pretty easy to see how valuable software is for your business. It can make your team more efficient and allow them to focus energy where it is most needed. It can save money and help you to delight your customers even more. But it’s not always quite as easy to see which software option is the best for your business and your needs. Would you benefit more from SaaS, or from custom software?
The good news is, you don’t have to figure that out on your own. Our software team is incredibly skilled at helping you identify the solution you need, and building it if you decide that custom software is the direction that will best serve your company. Want to learn more about what software can do for your work, and which option is best for you? Meet with our software team today.