Software as a Service (SaaS) is a web-based service which also goes by the name on-demand Software. It uses the internet to conveniently make software available for direct use to its clients. It provides many benefits to the biotech, healthcare, and pharmaceutical industries. Particularly, its ease and flexibility of use made SaaS a revolutionary method of delivering software to the end user.
Yet, as with any service, to get the best out of the SaaS platform, it is necessary not just to understand its benefits, but also to be aware of any pitfalls that might diminish what should be a productive and satisfying experience. This article is designed to help you do just that. To secure an optimal experience of SaaS, it is important to consider the levels of control, security, internet connectivity, application variety, and performance that the service offers or requires.
SaaS is best suited to organizational situations in which individuals using the software are less concerned with the methods of deployment or update/upgrade schedules that affect the particular versions they use. Rather, users should be open to accepting the scheduled updates given without the need to revert to earlier versions. Control is particularly relevant to customers in the healthcare and related industries for whom GMP and GxP require version management. Such clients should ensure that the SaaS providers they choose have built-in versioning functionality to ensure their compliance with these GxP.
SaaS is also suited to businesses that are comfortable with the built-in parameters of the software, since modifications or customizations of its applications to suit the needs of their office will be limited or restricted. Your business will thrive using software as a service when its end-users rely on the most updated versions of its central functionalities. In fact, this is where SaaS shines, as improved versions become available to your business and employees as soon as they hit the market.
Control also comes into play with respect to security, especially because of the wide variety of people and organizations that simultaneously use the software and access its databases. Security is an important concern in pharmaceutical, biotech and healthcare industries, for which several document management and other SaaS systems exist. While such SaaS providers take pains in securing their servers, the service is usually open to a wide variety of users across the globe and inherits a certain level of vulnerability on that account. Often, updates are done to improve data security, but there’s always the possibility that the databases might remain vulnerable. If data security is of immense importance to you—and I expect it might be—it pays to investigate beforehand the methods of storage and retrieval used by any SaaS you intend to use. Whenever the regulation of access is a concern in your organization, applying extra security measures while using cloud-based software is strongly recommended for the best user experience.
SaaS is primarily a cloud-based or web-based service and therefore relies heavily on the quality of one’s internet connection. A business or individual might be less well served by SaaS if connection to the internet is less than perfect, as the ability to use the application provided with the service requires a stable—and often also a fast—internet connection. Therefore, while SaaS saves you having to download, install, and configure multiple programs onto various systems in your network, decision makers must be aware of the trade-off it makes necessary. Entering the SaaS cloud-based environment without solid connectivity is not impossible but getting the most out of the applications might be a challenge. Being prepared for this will boost your productivity and give you the best of what SaaS has to offer, so you can always stay connected—whether to your applications, your colleagues, and your data.
It is genuinely convenient to have a suite of software at your fingertips, yet the novelty of SaaS—its newness on the market—means that there’s still a scarcity of software available beyond the core applications that are used by the majority. One very important consideration for the healthcare industry, as well as other industries in the regulated sectors, is the availability of software that support good management practices (GMP) as well as the variety of other good practices known collectively as GxP: good clinical, manufacturing, distribution, and laboratory practices. This might mean that if you or your company need to be served by less mainstream software, it might take some time before you are able to find it as a SaaS solution.
The distance data must travel between your computer and the SaaS company’s cloud-based servers creates a slight delay in your computer’s communication with those that host the software. The result is that choosing SaaS does reduce its own performance levels by virtue of being offered via the internet. Had the software been installed on your computer and not in the cloud, the speed of communication would have been higher, and this would have led to a higher performance. Despite this, since SaaS systems usually include the latest versions of the software it hosts, the speed of software hosted in the cloud generally makes up for the lag. As such, the performance issues as a result of your remote connection might very well go unnoticed. Plus, your enhanced experience inside the cloud-based system—with all the cutting-edge technology at your fingertips—will very likely downgrade the importance of these lag issues.
Overall, SaaS is very convenient and always promises cutting edge technology. Understanding how best to use it is the most efficient way to optimize your experience.