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SaaS Metric

Quickly understanding how your SaaS supplier provides customer support and utilises technology will save you hours of headache learning and porting your data to a new SaaS vendor only to realise that they don’t meet all of your needs.

That is why we’ve created the SaaSMetric™ scoring system, which provides you with a quick independent of a SaaS vendor and their offering to ensure that you don’t waste valuable time.

The SaaSMetric™ Test

  • Offers support via dedicated support ticket management system
  • Offers telephone AND email support
  • Uses the latest technology
  • Offers a free trial
  • Service level agreements provided
  • Provides third party integration via API
  • Is updated with new features on a regular basis
  • Provides users with options to customise application
  • Provides a forum to customers
  • Charges a monthly fee and no setup fee

The neat thing about the test is that it offers a quick yes or no answer to each response, and allows us to quickly calculate the score out of 11 that each vendor obtains.

A score of 10 is perfect, a score of 8 is tolerable, and anything lower than an 8 and you’ve got some potentially serious issues with the vendor.

Of course these are not the only factors you should consider when choosing your SaaS vendor. You may find a vendor with a low score that offers functionality you simply cannot live without. Alternatively a vendor with a high score may suffer from terrible customer support issues. That’s why we offer the up reviews page for each vendor allowing the general public to offer their opinion on a particular vendor.

1. Offers support via dedicated support ticket management system

A SaaS vendor will receive a huge amount of e-mails covering a wide range of support issues. To start with e-mail may handle this just fine but with anything more than a couple of hundred customers it soon becomes impossible to manage this load without a dedicated support ticket system. We’ve never heard of a SaaS vendor maintaining a high level of e-mail or telephone support without a dedicated ticket management system

2. Offers telephone and e-mail support

We know, telephones are scary, but SaaS vendors of the world your customers deserve to be able to make direct contact with you when they have decided to place their business in the hands of your support team. Sometimes a problem that will take hours to resolve by e-mail can very quickly be resolved by a simple five minute telephone conversation.

3. Uses the latest technology

Purchasing a shiny new SaaS application written using outdated technology is like purchasing a modern car made entirely from cast iron with wooden wheels. Outdated technology limits the speed and quality of the vehicle, and more importantly increases the amount of maintenance required to ensure the vehicle continues to operate smoothly. So all SaaS applications should in an ideal world use Microsoft .Net, PHP, Ruby on Rails (RoR), Java, Python or at a push Adobe Flash. There are others but these are by far the most popular.

4. Offers a free trial

You wouldn’t buy most items these days without testing them first, so why should you have to pay to see how your new SaaS application works? If a SaaS vendor is confident about the quality of their application they’ll let potential customers take it for a spin so they can satisfy themselves that the application will meet their business demands.

5. Offers a service level agreement

A service level agreement (SLA) is a document between the SaaS vendor and the customer that provides the basis for a promise between the SaaS vendor and the customer to meet specific service targets. For example an SLA would usually cover

  • Operational risk – this is an assurance that risks related to security, privacy and data ownership are mitigated
  • Business risk – this includes guarantees around error resolution times (i.e. how long it takes the vendor to fix a problem with their SaaS application) and any money back offers should the service be down for an unacceptable length of time

6. Provides you with the ability to get your data out quickly and easily

One of the biggest barriers to entry for any potential SaaS customer is the very scary thought that you may enter all of your business data in to a SaaS application only to find that it’s impossible to retrieve it at a later date. Many SaaS providers get around this issue by offering an export facility which will drop all of your data out to a CSV or similar format. Some even go so far as to e-mail you regular backups of your data.

7. Provides third party integration opportunities via an API

The beauty of SaaS is that through the use of a simple API (Application Programming Interface) it is possible to share data between your SaaS apps. So for example you might use your favourite SaaS application for logging the time you spend on projects, and this application would use an API provided by your favourite SaaS accounts application to generate invoices. You get the idea. A SaaS application without an API is missing out on all sorts of opportunities.

8. Application is updated with new features on a regular basis

The fact that SaaS applications are web hosted allows SaaS vendors to roll out updates to their applications without the usual chaos that usually surrounds software updates. In light of this it’s plain laziness if a SaaS vendor does not roll out regular patches, updates, features, tweaks to their applications on a regular basis. This is especially true of the SaaS vendor has implemented point six in the SaaSMetrics test as their customers will simply move away from their application to another.

9. Provides a free forum for users to interact with the vendor and each other

Forums cost next to nothing to set up but provide an invaluable resource for customers to share ideas, request features and generally gossip about the SaaS vendor. This should be encouraged by SaaS vendors as the forum will organically become a hotbed for new ideas for the application while demonstrating that the SaaS vendor is happy to engage in an open dialogue with their customer bases.

10. Charges a monthly fee and no setup fee

Last but not least, SaaS applications should not be charged for an annual basis. While it’s fair to charge a customer monthly or annually offering a discount if the customer chooses to pay on an annual basis, a SaaS vendor offering only an annual subscription is not following a true SaaS model and is instead removing one of the key advantages of SaaS.

 
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