In recent years, the SaaS industry attracts more and more users. That fact urges service providers to scale their SaaS capabilities. Cloud technology helps companies accomplish it. Additionally, businesses access other cloud-associated advantages like lower setup and maintenance costs, along with regular technical updates.
Customers also benefit from cloud functionality. For instance, it gives wide collaborative options for international businesses.
When it comes to creating your own cloud-based SaaS application, it’s better to have a step-by-step guide. That’s why let’s explore the process in 10 straightforward steps. But first, we have to uncover the meaning of a cloud-based SaaS application.
What is a cloud-based SaaS application?
Here we have two meaningful components: cloud technology as a linchpin and the SaaS delivery model. Let’s figure out what both terms imply.
To better understand the nature of cloud-based SaaS application solutions, compare it with other software licensing. In contrast with on-premise software, developers don’t sell their SaaS programs with a lifetime license. Instead, providers offer software as a service via a subscription model.
Speaking of cloud computing, it’s a software service that doesn’t need to be physically installed on a computer. It’s available on the web. It works with your browsers to give you access to all of your documents, files, and other materials from anywhere.
The major benefit of cloud software services is that they allow people to work together remotely, without having to worry about connecting through their computers. Additionally, this can be useful if workers don’t all have access to one another’s computers simultaneously.
Thus, have a look at the steps to build such an app that merges both characteristics.
Step 1. Planning SaaS application
After you’ve decided to build a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) application, you can start planning the project. The first step is thorough market research. It should gather the following information:
- Describe your target audience
- Define the problem of your target audience
- Define how you solve it with your app
- Evaluate team members’ assumptions
- Assess constraints, including risks and issues related to each iteration of development
- Set objectives and deliverables for each sprint or iteration of your product development process
- Involve stakeholders to adjust the plan to their requirements.
Then you need to decide on the technical requirements of the future app.
Step 2. Discovery phase
The second step is the discovery phase. During this phase, you will perform the following tasks:
- Define your software requirements specification (SRS). The SRS defines how your web app will function. The requirements should provide specifications for all aspects of your project.
- Compose a feature breakdown list that describes each feature in detail. It’s a critical point because by breaking down each component into manageable chunks you eliminate misconceptions and potential errors in the development stage.
- Break down your SaaS business plan into smaller modules that can be implemented over time. Building new features on top of existing ones is easier than starting from scratch every time. At any rate, most likely you’ll want to add something or change with regard to user experience (UX).
Step 3. Choosing Tenancy model
Depending on your business model, you may want to go with a single tenant, mixed, or multitenant approach.
Single tenant: In this case, your application is not shared with any other customers and can be hosted on a dedicated server. This option is best suited for cloud-based SaaS applications that require high security and control over the underlying infrastructure like healthcare or banking applications.
- Mixed tenancy: Such a model entails that users can share a hosting environment but at the same time they have their own separate databases, domains, and data centers. So the parties can manage their respective applications independently from each other. This model is suitable for small businesses looking to scale up.
- Multitenant: In this case, multiple companies use the same hardware resources simultaneously (for example Google Cloud Platform – GCP).
Let’s move on to the next phase.
Step 4. Risk assessment and mitigation plan
A risk assessment and mitigation plan are the key factors in determining the success of your application. Your mission here is to identify, evaluate, and prioritize risks associated with your application. Determine appropriate mitigation strategies to address those risks.
A risk assessment process should include an analysis of all aspects related to the project, including business requirements, technical architecture, implementation plans, and other aspects. Think thoroughly about what could affect your project from both internal (the project itself) and external sources (elements beyond the control of your company).
Some common risks include:
- Security breaches due to inadequate authentication mechanisms or lack of employee awareness about using secure protocols for data transmission;
- Insufficient infrastructure capacity due to unexpected spikes in traffic;
- Technical issues arising from software bugs or hardware failures that cause downtime.
Step 5. Cost estimate of SaaS development and Pricing strategy
For a SaaS product, the cost of development and maintenance is the highest chunk. It is advised to have good experience in estimating the total cost so that you can create your own SaaS product without worrying about money.
The following are some factors that affect your cost:
- Cost of Software Development – The cost of developing an application in-house has been steadily increasing over time due to the increases in technology and labor costs. This can be minimized by using open-source or third-party components and modules.
- Software Hosting – Depending on where you host your application servers, whether it’s locally or remotely makes all difference when it comes to pricing strategy.
Step 6. Application design for SaaS application
Now you have a good idea of what your app is going to do and how it’s going to work. Then it’s time to take a look at how you want users to interact with the application. This step can be challenging since it involves a lot of UX/UI work. But if done properly, it will make all future development easier. In this phase, you should have discussions about:
- Security measures
- Scalability concerns (how many users or devices)
- Performance issues (How fast does the app need to load?)
- User experience
Once you have an idea of what needs to be done and how users will interact with the app, it’s time to start designing. This is where you can get creative and have fun with your application. In this phase: You should create:
- Wireframes for all major screens/pages in the application
- Mockups (or prototypes) for developers
Step 7. Architecture design for SaaS application
The software architecture is primarily based on stakeholders’ technical requirements. So in this stage, it’s important to understand the business needs, objectives, and goals.
The architecture of a cloud-based SaaS application should be customized according to:
- The type of users who will access the system (internal or external)
- The data that needs to be stored in the system (low-volume or high-volume)
- The type of application (web-based or mobile app)
- The scalability requirements
- The performance requirements
- The availability requirement
Step 8. Development of SaaS application
When you’re developing a cloud-based SaaS application, it’s critical to use the right tools for the job. This means choosing cloud providers that offer a developer toolkit and guides for building apps in your language of choice.
For example, Google offers Cloud SDK and Docker Engine; Microsoft provides Azure CLI 2.0; Amazon has AWS CLI 2.0; and IBM has Bluemix SDKs for several languages.
You’ll also want to use an application framework that fits your needs — a popular option is Symfony (for PHP). And finally, when choosing databases, you can either pick an open-source solution like MySQL and PostgreSQL, or go with a managed database like MongoDB Atlas, or Azure Cosmos DB.
Therefore, when it comes to picking a cloud provider, you have a lot of options. But there are a few things you should consider when choosing one:
-How much experience do they have with your language of choice?
-What kind of support do they offer?
-How easy is it to deploy code on their platform?
-What kind of tools are available for developers?
-How much do they charge?
Step 9: Testing an application
Testing is an important part of the software development process, as it verifies that the software performs the way it’s supposed to. Testing can be done manually or automated.
Manual testing involves a tester performing certain tasks manually and comparing their results with what they were expecting to see. Automated testing is done by software (often referred to as a ‘test case’) that performs these tasks automatically. Manual testing is usually more expensive and time-consuming than automated testing. However, there are cases where it makes sense to do both types of validation.
Automated tests typically run faster than manual ones; however, they can only check for specific conditions that have been explicitly coded into them (for example: “If I enter zero dollars into this field then I should get an error message”).
If you want your application to be able to handle unexpected input from users or other sources (such as API requests), then you will need some level of manual verification first before automation takes over again after any new feature has been implemented fully once more
Step 10: Cloud-Based SaaS application maintenance and further development
Now that you’ve built your cloud-based SaaS application, what should you do next? Once your app is live, the maintenance process begins. SaaS app maintenance is an ongoing process and includes bug fixing, feature enhancements, and more. Maintenance can be done by the same team that developed it — but if that’s not possible for whatever reason (time constraints or lack of internal resources), there are other options.
The first is to hire a dedicated team of maintenance specialists. These are software developers who specialize in fixing bugs and adding features — and they’re usually on call 24/7.
A second option is to use an IT service provider (ISP), which will take care of all your cloud-based SaaS application maintenance needs so that you can focus on more strategic things.
A third option is to outsource the maintenance process. This means that you hand over all your SaaS app’s code and documentation to a third party, which will take care of everything for you.
The last option is to hire an in-house team of developers. It’s the most expensive option, but it also gives you full control over what happens to your app. You can make any changes you want at any time — and there are no restrictions on who accesses or uses the codebase.
The popularity of cloud-based SaaS solutions grows due to the flexibility that such apps offer. If you want to avail a part of the growing market, you should have in-depth preparation. To achieve a better customer experience, you need to bear in mind these 10 steps for developing a disruptive SaaS solution.