The Road to SaaS

The white paper "The Road to SaaS" provides a roadmap for developing an organisation strategy for SaaS. Here is an introduction to the paper;

SaaS stands for Software as a Service. It is a cloud computing model where software applications are provided over the internet on a subscription basis. Instead of installing and maintaining software on individual computers or servers, users can access the software and its features through a web browser. This approach offers benefits such as scalability, automatic updates, and accessibility from various devices. Popular examples of SaaS include Google Workspace, Salesforce, and Microsoft 365.

The Road to SaaS discusses the opportunities and challenges in devising an organisational approach to SaaS and provides a framework to understand the options that organisations have and a way to choose between them

Chapter 2: “What is SaaS provides some key definitions and introduces key concepts relevant to SaaS. It then identifies the key characteristics of SaaS and then traces the history of SaaS as an evolution in computing. SaaS has different meanings when viewed from different perspectives which are then discussed. Also SaaS is but one model of deployment and alternatives to SaaS are then discussed. After considering the drawbacks of SaaS, the chapter discusses when a SaaS model is appropriate or inappropriate.

Why should organisations consider SaaS? Chapter 3: “Why SaaS discusses the reasons, first considering dynamic business environments, the characteristics of dynamism and their impacts on traditional and SaaS models. Given that success usually entails striking the right balance between effectiveness and efficiency, it then discusses how these are impacted in stable vs dynamic business environments. It then becomes possible to understand what problem SaaS solves and therefore who benefits and how.

How can organisations exploit SaaS? Chapter 4: “SaaS Strategy Development discusses the path to exploiting SaaS to the organisation’s benefit, by looking at their approach to organisation through a framework of the SaaS space, consisting of two perspectives – the Business Model perspective and the Operating Model perspective. It then contrasts those with legacy product organisations. Using this framework it describes the transition paths through the SaaS space, to understand what such transition involves, and use this information to develop an  appropriate SaaS strategy. It also clarifies the critical role of alignment in the successful execution of such a strategy.

On the road to SaaS, the transition to SaaS has significant implications for the organisation, which Chapter 5 “Implications” explores. It first explores the implications in the areas of Architecture (including product, software, services, and organisation). It then explores the implications in terms of  organisation processes and product lifecycles. The capabilities and resources, both functional and dynamic that are required in SaaS tend to be significantly different and it  then explores these.

We have so far considered how software can be deployed as a service using SaaS. But can services – specifically professional services which are knowledge based - be deployed as software? Chapter 6Service as a Software discusses professional services and their characteristics. It then contrasts these to software and identifies the overlaps. It discusses the implications of business environment dynamism on both, SaaS, and professional services. It examines the characteristics of SaaS when applied to professional services and distinguishes professional services from SaaS. Finally it identifies professional services elements that can be delivered through software.

Several prominent contributors have driven the evolution of SaaS thinking. Chapter 7 “Contributors and References” identifies some of the most prominent contributors and their contributions and provides references to their work where possible. Such contributions come from academia, business leaders and the business community, companies that have demonstrated leadership in the SaaS space and others who have contributed to the literature in the SaaS space.

The document is available here

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