SAAS: Much more than Cloudification of APPS
Author: Mohammed Ali Khan
Some may view a transition to Software as a Service (SaaS) as simply the “cloudification” of applications. But in many cases, SaaS delivers richer, more relevant features and functions than packaged applications while also providing an opportunity to restructure and eliminate gaps.
SaaS is software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely over a network. For startups with a limited application footprint, SaaS adoption is straightforward, since they have little or no baggage — less historical data to accommodate, less process reengineering necessary and less resistance to change.
Most organizations, however, have a significant application footprint and mature processes, so they undertake their journey toward SaaS with a significant amount of preimplementation work needed to ensure that the right objectives are put in place and all objectives are met.
As an example of the challenge, consider human resources management systems (HRMS). Oracle’s Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud and SAP’s SuccessFactors both differ drastically from their corresponding traditional non-SaaS packages in terms of features, functionality and even structure in some places. This can be a crucial barrier with respect to change management in an organization adopting such SaaS packages, especially for regions such as Middle East and Africa (MEA) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) economic community.
This aspect of change management may not be evident when discussing cloud and specifically SaaS with C-level leaders, but for an organization undertaking such transformation, the responsibility lies with the project sponsor (the business or data- and process-owning organization,” in most cases) and facilitator (IT and procurement departments, in most cases).
The transition, however, should be treated as an opportunity, when coupled with functionality enrichment and process reengineering. For example, the analytics and business intelligence of SaaS packages are often richer and better integrated than those of non-SaaS packages, and in most cases the user experience and context is improved.
The reasons behind the improvements include:
- Freedom to create a fresh design, since most SaaS packages do not have a direct upgrade path from their traditional counterparts
- Ability to take a more modern approach to reflect changes in business, user priorities and technological advances
These aspects of SaaS ensure better productivity and usability, and sometimes help reduce customizations — although one could argue that ingrained processes are not yet mature or complete in SaaS packages.
SaaS has the potential to modernize and enhance business processes and user experience to a very large extent in the immediate term. Coupled with the level of investment in SaaS from product/package companies, that potential will only grow.
Organizations should review gaps, customizations, and “maintenance and usability” challenges and consider SaaS options and cloudification benefits to drive business. Looking at the maturity of many SaaS packages, we firmly believe a coexistence model (SaaS and non-SaaS packages) is applicable for all organizations, and a hard look at the status quo could help identify such opportunities.
In summary, cloudification is not a complete definition of SaaS, and a trusted advisor and partner can help clients select the right strategy, roadmap and implementation — especially in high-customization regions such as MEA.
DXC has rich experience in helping clients with their digital transformation journeys and was one of the earliest adopters of cloud technology, including SaaS and the DXC Agility Platform. One of the advantages of working with DXC is that it understands all aspects of the move to next-gen technologies. DXC is one of the few service providers in the world that can manage complex hybrid cloud transitions and deliver Infrastructure as a Service, which integrates mainframe, midrange, private cloud and public cloud into an effective whole. DXC’s approach to SaaS transformation ranges from consulting strategy through implementation, including transition and change management services.