Software as a Service (SaaS) may seem like a silver bullet for many organizations who are spending too much or taking too long to manage their own software. And the truth is, they can indeed be the desired alternative you have been looking for, but, according to Will Kelly, there are five factors one must keep in mind when considering this transition:
- Reassess your project management application users
- Seek the best possible collaboration experience
- Plan for centralization
- Integrate the SaaS project management application with other applications
- Define the role of application administration
The issue with many desktop applications – Kelly uses Microsoft Project as an example – is that often only one person per team fully understands it enough to use it to its fullest potential. SaaS, on the other hand, has the benefits associated with a cloud service. It allows users to add input without having to have front and back knowledge of the application. It also allows for the use of mobile devices. Allowing multiple forms of access should lead to the best possible collaboration experience. According to Kelly, having different channels of communication is crucial when adopting SaaS: When asked about migrating to a SaaS project management application, Wrike CEO Andrew Filev relayed to me in an email, “If you manage “information workers,’ be zealous in picking a project management platform with the best collaboration experience. Otherwise, most of the work statuses and data will still flow through email and other collaboration solutions, which puts a big burden on project managers to update the schedule and on everyone to find that information when it’s needed. He reasons, “The divide between project management and collaboration solutions has been the Achilles heel of many implementations, but that no longer has to be the case, as the best SaaS project management solutions provide you with a real-time collaboration experience, comparable to enterprise collaboration platforms. It’s also important that your project management platform plays nicely with the collaboration systems that you already have in place or might have in the future.” Kelly also adds that SaaS applications can and should exist as a central hub for project activities. Furthermore, it can be integrated with other applications. Kelly does remind us that there is great importance in defining the role of application administrator. This is not necessarily the same as the one person who understood Microsoft Project. The application administrator for SaaS should manage account access, provide training, and integrate applications. SaaS can be largely beneficial to your organization, but only if you approach it with Kelly’s tips in mind.