SaaS and Support Options

Web-Tones recently posted an entry titled Darkside of SaaS. In the post, the author explains:

As we move more and more of our computing to the cloud one thing will become painfully obvious. It is not the service provider with the coolest interface or lowest cost that will win. It is the provider that can deliver 24/7 world class support.

He then asserts:

Here is a dirty little secret about SaaS: a major screw up on the provider’s part can bring your online world tumbling down in a NY second. Try to find a number that you can call and ask a question like WTF just happened? Nope, can’t do it. Just have to submit a ticket to the cloud and hope that someone responds in time to save that major deal you are working on.

I think he is right, as far as he goes, but the problems he highlights are not limited to SaaS applications. You have these same problems with the company that provides your internet service, or fixes your computer when it breaks, or, for that matter, services process for you.

Anytime that you are about to enter into agreements with providers, you need to ask yourself what happens if something goes drastically wrong. If you lose your connection to your SaaS provider, do you have another way to access the information? If your internet connection goes down, does your provider guarantee to have it back up in a certain period of time? Do you have an alternate connection you can use? When your computer crashes, does your service contract provide for on site service within 24 hours or do you have to send the computer off site to be fixed? When you must have someone served immediately, can you reach your process server and will she get the person served for you?

You should be asking the same type of questions with all of these service providers. Of course the answers you want may not be the same. For some people, it is vitally important that they be able to reach their service provider 24/7/365. For others, they may need to reach someone only between 7 am and 10 pm.

The important thing is that before you sign a contract for any of these services, you need to decide what is important to you. Then find a provider that will meet your requirements. If you must be able to speak with someone in support at 3 am on Saturdays, make sure you can do this. If you need guaranteed uptime of of a certain amount, find someone who will give you that guarantee and who actually has penalties that give the guarantee teeth.

As Web-Tones emphasized, depending on your requirements, cost may be the lowest factor in consideration when shopping for a SaaS or any other provider.

2 thoughts on “SaaS and Support Options

  1. I agree, Bryan. These sorts of problems are not isolated to SaaS providers. There can be dark side vendors selling anything. I can see how SaaS vendors rely on ISPs to deliver an internet connection first. If an internet connection goes down, SaaS vendors may bear the brunt of the user’s frustration.

  2. Great post, Bryan. Not all SaaS providers are created equal, so it’s important for prospective customers to really ask questions and find out if it will work for them.

    The same due diligence should apply and is often overlooked by firms that are using client/server based systems.

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