Just How Different Is Building a SaaS Product?

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SaaS Product Development

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Last updated on April 16th, 2024

The SaaS industry is now the most popular kid in the technology high school. Almost 99% of organizations are using one or more SaaS solutions, and the market is growing at a phenomenal pace. As the popularity of SaaS increases consistently, organizations are naturally pivoting towards building SaaS products.

Since a central provider hosts a SaaS product and it’s offered to customers through the internet, its development demands certain special considerations. The architecture of SaaS products, for example, becomes critical when developing these products. To leverage the benefits of scalability, SaaS products must look at microservices and containers and look at decoupling the application. Decoupling ensures that the application is broken into a collection of data and services that can be tested, deployed, or patched independently.

Building SaaS products is not difficult. Building great SaaS products that compel user advocacy and lead to product stickiness is the hard part.

Here are some other key considerations to make during SaaS product development.

The Design Experience – Usability, User Experience

Research shows that by 2025, 85% of applications will be SaaS-based. With so much competition, how can you ensure that your product doesn’t get lost in the crowd? The answer lies in a killer UX and design experience.

Delivering an amazing UX and design experience is not about pretty and aesthetic landing pages. While this is an essential part, identifying the user journey, how the user will engage with the product, and how they need their problem solved in the least possible steps are places to put the most attention.

Gathering information regarding the user and leveraging customer journey maps, empathy maps, etc., contribute towards a good design. Ensuring that the data and functionalities do not overly complicate SaaS design are also essential consideration points. Identifying user pain points, existing problems, and complexities allows organizations to build great user interfaces while hiding the technical complexity of the features behind it and the product.

Feature-rich, easy-to-use navigation is crucial even when the software goes beyond standardized menus. Also, it’s important to ensure that the ‘search’ functionality is well adjusted and the search data based on relevant information elevates the user experience considerably and leads to product stickiness.

SaaS Product Development Process

The SaaS (Software as a Service) Product Development Process involves a systematic approach to creating and launching software solutions that are delivered over the internet. From identifying market needs to scaling for growth, this process encompasses various stages aimed at delivering a valuable and user-centric product. Below are key pointers outlining the essential steps in the SaaS product development journey:

Understanding Market Needs:

Begin by conducting thorough market research to identify pain points and gaps in existing solutions. This insight will inform the direction of your SaaS product development.

Defining Product Objectives:

Clearly define the goals and objectives of your SaaS product. Determine what problems it will solve, its target audience, and the unique value proposition it offers.

Designing User Experience (UX):

Craft an intuitive and user-friendly interface that ensures a seamless experience for your target users. Focus on simplicity, efficiency, and meeting the specific needs of your audience.

Prototyping and Wireframing:

Develop prototypes and wireframes to visualize the product’s layout, features, and functionality. This iterative process allows for feedback and refinement before moving into full development.

Agile Development:

Embrace agile methodologies to facilitate flexibility and adaptability throughout the development process. Break down the project into manageable tasks, prioritize them based on value, and iterate quickly.

Continuous Testing and Quality Assurance:

Implement rigorous testing procedures to identify and address any bugs, glitches, or usability issues early on. Ensure that the product meets the highest standards of quality and reliability.

Deployment and Launch:

Prepare for the deployment and launch of your SaaS product by setting up hosting infrastructure, configuring servers, and implementing security measures. Coordinate marketing efforts to generate buzz and attract users.

Post-Launch Iteration:

Monitor user feedback and analytics post-launch to gather insights into how the product is being used and where improvements can be made. Continuously iterate and evolve the product to stay competitive and meet changing market demands.

Customer Support and Maintenance:

Provide ongoing customer support to address user inquiries, troubleshoot issues, and gather feedback for future updates. Regularly maintain and update the product to ensure optimal performance and security.

Scaling and Growth Strategies:

Develop strategies for scaling the SaaS product to accommodate a growing user base and expanding market reach. Explore opportunities for partnerships, integrations, and feature enhancements to drive sustained growth and success.

The SaaS Product Development Experience – Availability, Performance, Resilience

SaaS products are built for performance, availability, and resilience. As such, these products have to be engineered for performance. Performance testing has to, as such, move towards performance engineering.

Making the right technology choices, creating the most appropriate solution architecture, leveraging the right platforms and third-party integrations, etc., are some of the considerations critical to the fact that performance, availability, and scalability are in-built and not retrofitted later. It is also essential to navigate the complexities of integrating commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and open-source products, each with different performance characteristics and scalability factors.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to engineer the product for availability, especially as SaaS applications become business-critical with globally dispersed users. Robust infrastructure monitoring, identifying and defining scalability needs, vertical and horizontal scaling optimization, load balancing, and server optimization strategies become crucial when developing SaaS products.

The Operational Experience – Deployment and Updates

Identifying ways to elevate the operational experience is also an important part of designing SaaS products. Their flexible architecture builds in greater responsiveness to market and customer demands. It is also important to ensure that the product easily integrates with the customer environment.

Technology considerations, integrations, and APIs are key areas to look at. These choices influence the ease of deployments, updates, and upgrades. Introducing automation to make this process simpler and error-proof is also imperative.

Custom APIs make connecting the applications with other apps within the organization, databases, or third-party applications easier. Hence, robust API building and management capabilities are of immense use when developing SaaS products.

The Security Experience – Data, Access Management, and Compliance

As SaaS applications gain popularity even across highly regulated industries such as banking and finance, healthcare, audit, etc., elevating the security experience becomes crucial for application adoption and advocacy.

SaaS applications are also beginning to contain sensitive data leading to the need for robust and highly-secure security architectures. Creating the right security structures and ensuring user and corporate data privacy also become essential for compliance; think GDPR and other such norms.

Access management is another frontier to cross for better security, especially as the world of work becomes more boundaryless, global, and hybrid. Apart from baking security into the product by shifting testing left, enabling capabilities like server monitoring, monitoring network activity, data recovery, and auto backups also beef up security. Many highly-regulated industries are also looking at implementing zero-trust security for greater confidence.

To Sum It Up

Along with all this, SaaS product developers must identify opportunities to get two birds with one stone. NoSQL databases such as MongoDB, for example, help increase the performance of cloud products. But did you know that these also allow organizations to get more meaningful analytics out of the data? 

Improving and developing API capabilities automatically help in building great architecture. These and many other nuances need consideration to engineer robust products.

Leveraging a strong SaaS product development partner like Forgeahead with technical experience and know-how is invaluable. These partnerships allow organizations to:

  • Calibrate the different moving parts of SaaS products in the most optimized format
  • Provide mission-critical insights
  • Ensure that the product delivers the intended business advantage by engineering it for success from the word ‘go’!

Get in touch with us to learn more.

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