Should You Choose a SaaS-Based ITSM Software?
Posted by on July 05, 2018
Matt Klassen is the vice president of product marketing at Cherwell. He is passionate about enabling enterprises to accelerate their digital journey through better software and better service. Matt has 25 years experience in developing, architecting, selling, and marketing enterprise software solutions for IT and product teams.
If you're considering an investment into an IT service management (ITSM) solution for your small, medium, or large company, one of the first decisions you'll be faced with is how you should purchase and administer the service. ITSM software solutions are available as SaaS-based applications, cloud-hosted applications, or as downloadable software you install and configure on-premises or in your cloud.
Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to get familiar with the features, risks, and benefits of each type of solution before making a decision that will have a major impact on your business. This article discusses the risks and benefits of each type of ITSM solution and offers tips and advice for determining which option is best for your business.
Choosing a Downloadable Software ITSM Application: Risks and Benefits
Downloadable software ITSM solutions offer corporations an unparalleled level of flexibility and virtually unlimited customization options. As we'll discover, however, that flexibility comes with some potential drawbacks for some organizations. Here's our breakdown of the most important considerations when choosing a downloadable software ITSM Application:
Costs: While SaaS or cloud-hosted ITSM solutions are often billed on a monthly subscription model, downloadable software ITSM solutions often offer flexibility and can be purchased as a perpetual license with annual maintenance and support or as a subscription. Companies that choose perpetual licensing can end up paying significantly higher up-front costs versus other methods, as a one-time purchase of the software significantly front-loads the total cost of ownership, although it may result in net savings in the long term.
There are also additional up-front capital outlays for the computing environment on which the software is installed.
Benefits: The chief benefit of a downloadable software ITSM solution is the flexibility offered in customization by an application that is owned by the company and hosted on company servers or in their cloud environment. Companies that purchase software solutions are presented with many opportunities to invest in their ITSM systems directly. You can expand the capacity of the system at will, improve and customize security features, build custom features into the software, easily port data to other areas using APIs, and leverage your own expertise to maximize up-time for the service.
Risks: With the great flexibility downloadable software gives organizations, some organizations may over-engineer their solution. In addition, the lack of investment in the personnel and initiatives to make the most of the system is the number-one reason for failed implementations of software ITSM solutions.
Choosing a Cloud-hosted ITSM Application: Risks and Benefits
Cloud-based service management is one of the fastest growing areas of technology services, with expert analysts at IDC incorporated projecting the market to grow by nearly 30% in the next five years. Cloud-based ITSM tools are being seen as the way forward for many businesses who value rapid, low-cost implementations and maximize the productivity of available IT staff.
The defining feature of cloud-based ITSM systems is that they use the cloud—a web-based network of servers—to store the data and host the application. Here's our breakdown of how the system plays out:
Costs: Cloud-based ITSM providers are extremely flexible in terms of billing, making them a good option for small- to medium-sized companies that are growing. Cloud-based ITSM software is subscription-based: companies typically pay a flat monthly fee, along with additional fees based on their overall usage. Because the application is hosted and stored in the cloud, companies are saved the expense and hassle of building their own IT infrastructure (servers, data center, etc.) to host the application.
Benefits: There are several benefits of cloud-based ITSM software. First, the capital outlay is relatively minimal as the service is purchased using a subscription model. Small businesses can take advantage of low-cost implementation to get a head start on building an IT help desk that can readily scale based on the company's needs. Some cloud-based ITSM providers may charge fees based on the number of users with access to the system, so small companies can start off paying for fewer accounts and scale up as needed.
Risks: The biggest risk associated with cloud-based ITSM systems is their security. When you store data on your on-premise servers, you can maintain a high level of control over data security. For cloud-hosted services, however, you're essentially relying on the vendor to ensure that any personal information belonging to you or your clients is being safeguarded by state-of-the-art tools and industry best practices. Thankfully, the leading cloud service management providers know this, and maintain their services using technology that secure and stable.
Choosing a SaaS-based ITSM Application: Risks and Benefits
SaaS is one of the biggest trends in technology today, and SaaS-based ITSM applications accordingly provide some unique benefits to the companies that choose to implement them. SaaS-based ITSM providers have not only created an excellent ITSM product that can meet the needs of top organizations, they have actually built the infrastructure to support those companies with application and data hosting and other services that are coupled with software ownership.
Cost: SaaS-based ITSM service providers typically charge a monthly subscription, often incorporating a base fee and additional fees for allowing more user accounts in the system. Choosing a SaaS-based provider means that companies won't have to invest in developing their own expensive IT infrastructure.
Benefits: SaaS-based ITSM services have some excellent value propositions for small-, medium-, and large-sized companies. The biggest value-add is having a dedicated partner whose role is to ensure your successful implementation. SaaS companies understand why "customer lifelong value" matters for their business model—they will work with you to make the implementation a success.
Companies that choose a SaaS-based ITSM software are spared the initial expenses of purchasing the application and hosting it themselves, and they gain a partner whose role includes data storage and maintenance, releasing updates, optimizing help desk configuration to improve performance, and maintaining security. That's a lot of value!
Risks: Companies that go for SaaS-based ITSM solutions may lose some flexibility and customization options versus on-premise hosting. Working with a SaaS company means you'll rely on their team to generate and deliver updates, ensure application up-time, and build out any customization you request—though likely for an additional fee if it's uniquely for your business.
Some SaaS companies allow you to build your own APIs and port data out of the application, while others may not support that, and data security may also be an issue depending on who you choose as a partner. Ensure that you clearly outline who owns the data, whether you can get a copy of it when requested, and how the data will be used.
The type of software you choose for ITSM will depend on the size of your business, the funds you have available to invest, and your need to customize an ITSM solution for the specific needs of your business. If you're looking for a cheap and functional option that you can self-manage, cloud-based might be the way to go. If your cash and expertise are limited, finding a SaaS partner that can help you implement successfully is an excellent option. If you're looking for flexibility and customization, the software option might work well for your organization.
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