SaaS software has proven itself as an indispensable tool for many small businesses. Given their scalability, low capital outlay, and easy deployment, cloud solutions can mitigate operational expenses, maximize productivity, and optimize revenue flow, making them crucial tools for small business owners.
Compared to on-premise or legacy systems, SaaS is more suitable for growing small businesses that have changing needs because of its scalability. By reinforcing your operations with these systems, you can lighten the workload of your employees while optimizing overall operations.
In this article, we will be discussing 21 best tools for small business owners so that you can easily pinpoint which software solutions will fall within your budget and cater to the unique needs of your company.
There are different types of software on the market. To help you narrow down the solutions you need for your small business, we have selected only the most crucial program categories for this write-up. These software solutions span the gamut of small business operations including such categories as:
To ensure that you are managing your internal operations responsibly, we have also listed some great examples of HR systems, payroll programs, and learning management tools. Of course, tools for scheduling appointments and handling procurement duties have also been included on this list.
The business landscape is becoming increasingly technologically advanced. So, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of companies invest in SaaS platforms. In fact, the Cisco Global Cloud Index for the period 2013–2018 indicates that 59% of companies will be running almost entirely on SaaS. Clearly, SaaS is steadily gaining prominence in the computing space.
After all, SaaS platforms offer a plethora of benefits to improve your operations no matter what industry your company may belong to. According to a study by Forrester Research, using SaaS can help you get lower overall costs, speed up deployment, and curb the need for more staff. For small businesses, this means that you don’t have to sacrifice too much of your budget to be able to operate efficiently. You’ll be able to run your startup smoothly while making sure you’re getting your company’s name on the map, keeping up with even the most esteemed household names.
So, get your business on the right track as soon as possible by utilizing SaaS platforms to run your operations. Now, what exactly are these systems? Read on to learn more about the 21 best tools for small business owners.
Marketing software platforms help you create campaigns, and these are necessary when running a business because the success of your company relies greatly on your ability to acquire new leads and retain existing customers. However, managing these marketing efforts is no easy feat. It involves a lot of tasks that can be both complicated and time-consuming. Having a marketing software platform simplifies these responsibilities. This type of application will provide you with tools that can automate repetitive tasks, optimize the way you plan, and your campaigns smoothly so that you can send more leads down your sales funnel.
One of the best examples in this category is the HubSpot Marketing automation software. Trusted by over 41,500 customers across the globe, it is an advanced and intuitive system designed to consolidate all your marketing efforts in one convenient platform. It is also equipped with a wide range of top-of-the-line features for lead management, analytics, social media monitoring, email management, and custom marketing automation, making it a great all-in-one tool for small businesses that have yet to use marketing platforms.
Another great thing about this product is that they offer a free plan for small teams. This is inclusive of all the basic features that the software has to offer. In case you want more advanced features, they also have affordable paid plans that are priced according to the types of functions you’ll be needing. Prices range from $50/month to $2400/month.
The vendor offers a comprehensive free trial to get you up to speed with the features. You can sign up for the HubSpot Marketing free trial here.
After working day in and day out to boost your sales and improve your brand reputation, you can rest easy when you have accounting software tools to help you manage your earnings. Apart from recording and processing multiple accounting transactions, you can also simplify bookkeeping, sales and purchase order tracking, accounts receivable/payable monitoring, and more. By having accounting software solutions, you can cut down the time spent on manual accounting and reduce the risk of human error when handling your money.
If you haven’t already invested in an accounting software yet, we suggest checking out FreshBooks features. This award-winning cloud-based finance and accounting software is created specifically for small businesses. Used by millions of companies worldwide, it can help you fast track your sales cycles as well as make complex financial management responsibilities simpler and more enjoyable. Among the many features, it can offer you are expense tracking, accounting reporting, tax preparation, payment management, and online invoicing. The platform even allows users to brand their financial documents to make it look more professional.
FreshBooks also has affordable plans that you can choose from. You may opt for their Lite Plan which costs $15/month, their Plus plan which is priced at $25/month, and their Premium plan which costs $50/month.
If you want to investigate the features closely you can easily do so when you sign up for a FreshBooks free trial here.
Are you launching a new product? Perhaps you want to organize an event to promote your brand? You might need to use project management software programs to accomplish these tasks effortlessly. Whatever business endeavor you have in mind, these tools are great for planning any type of major task you want to undertake. From budget management and resource allocation to scheduling and documentation, project management software solutions will help you streamline the entire process to make sure you don’t overlook any detail.
Wrike is a great example of this kind of software. Used by Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Adobe, and EA Sports, this online project management system serves as a single hub for all your projects. It offers you with tools that can let you schedule, prioritize, discuss, and monitor work in real-time as well as manage workloads and collaborate with other professionals. The platform is also known for its user-friendly navigation, making it ideal for entrepreneurs who don’t have enough technical expertise or don’t have the resources to hire experts.
The best part about Wrike is, however, is that it is free to use for small teams composed of up to 5 users. But they also have paid plans. Check these Wrike pricing plans: the Professional Plan which costs $9.80/user/month, the Business Plan which is priced at $24.80/user/month, and Marketers which can be availed for $34.60/user/month. Quote-based pricing is also available upon request.
You can easily sign up for a Wrike free trial here and get to know the features firsthand at no cost and without commitment.
How can you maintain good communication within your company? Invest in good communication software tools, so that you can boost your operations. How, you might ask? By using this tool, you should be able to provide a safe and secure platform for your employees to communicate with each other. In turn, you can improve the working relationships of your staff, boost efficiency, and keep all of your business’ information away from prying eyes at the same time.
Slack is one of the best communications software you can use for your growing business. It is a real-time messaging app with a single unified archive that can be accessed through its intuitive searching capabilities. Equipped with configurable notifications, file browsing options, and read-state synchronization, this also has built-in external and external sharing solutions for your file sharing requirements. It also has fully native apps for iOS and Android for complete mobility and integrates well within any software ecosystem, so you will surely be able to use this alongside any of your existing platforms.
If you don’t mind having limited integration options, communication features, and file storage, Slack offers a free plan that can accommodate as many users as you want. However, should you want the complete system, you may also opt for any of their enterprise pricing packages. The Standard plan is priced at $6.67/user/month while the Plus plan costs $12.50/user/month. You may also opt for their quote-based Enterprise plan.
While a good communication system in the office is important for operations, it is imperative that you have a reliable customer service platform through which you can quickly assist prospective clients and existing customers. This application will help you close the gap between you and your target audience and improve overall customer experience.
An award-winning help desk solution Freshdesk is equipped with customer service tools that can meet the demands of small businesses and large companies alike. No matter the type of customer support you want to provide—be it email, phone, social media, live chat, ticketing, or all of the above—this application has you covered. You may even create a community for your customers to interact with each other. Apart from those, this platform is known mostly for its multi-channel capabilities, integrated game mechanics options for agent productivity, multiple SLA policy support, smart automation solutions, as well as self-service portal tools.
Freshdesk offers multiple pricing plans depending on the types of features you will be needing. You may opt for their Sprout plan which is free to use, their Blossom package which costs $19/agent/month, or their Garden plan which is priced at $35/agent/month. They also have an Estate plan and a Forest plan which cost $49/agent/month and $89/agent/month respectively.
An appealing test drive of all software features is available to you when you sign up for a Freshdesk free trial here.
Other than customer support, a customer relationship management (CRM) software program can improve and maintain your business relationships. This is because you can use this to better manage your interactions with leads and clients as well as optimize how you get in touch with them. This will also simplify contact management, boost lead targeting, and accelerate the sales cycle of each customer by providing you with powerful analytics.
If you have never used a CRM software before, we recommend you give a try the HubSpot CRM benefits. Flexible and easy-to-use, this application has a smart interface that can let you organize every single detail from your customers’ interactions with you. It also tracks deals, controls agent performance, and monitors customer activities on various channels with ease. With this, you can check the status of each customer and figure out the best ways to communicate with them. In addition, the platform integrates with multiple third-party applications so you can configure the system according to the unique needs of your business.
HubSpot CRM’s basic features are completely free to use, so it is a great choice for companies with limited financial resources. As you grow your business, you may opt for their paid plans: Starter at $50/month, Basic starting at $200/month, Professional starting at $800/month, and Enterprise starting at $2400/month.
You can check the solution closely when you sign up for a HubSpot CRM free app here.
Emailing is one of the most critical means of communication in the business industry. Whether you are exchanging messages with other companies, with customers, or with employees, using a single email account to handle these conversations can be extremely handy. However, it can be difficult to keep your inbox organized. By using an email management software solution, you can easily sort, automate, and manage your emails according to your preferences. In turn, this can increase your productivity while spending less time in your inbox.
Hiver is an email management tool that lets you manage customer support and sales straight from your Gmail account. Through this application, you can provide your teams with collaborative inboxes and shared mailboxes. It will also allow you to control email delegation, reminders, and notes for Gmail with ease.
For payment plans, Hiver offers three packages priced according to the number of shared mailboxes you need and the kinds of features you want. The ideal one for small businesses is the Plus Plan which costs $14/user/month. For larger businesses, they also have a Premium plan costing $22/user/month and an Enterprise Plan which is available for $34/user/month.
If you want to know more about the features you can easily sign up for a Hiver free trial here.
Emailing may be the most common way to contact customers, but with the rise of social networking sites, it is necessary for businesses to utilize social media accounts in order to boost their online presence. This can help you reach a wider target audience in a convenient manner; however, juggling multiple accounts can be cumbersome. By finding good social media management software providers, you will no longer have to jump from account to account just to get in touch with customers on social media. These systems will consolidate all of these accounts in a single platform so you can accomplish more by doing less.
One of the simplest social media systems available on the market is Zoho Social. Created for small to medium-sized businesses, this cloud-hosted platform has tools for automatic scheduling, activity logging, keyword tracking, one window management, as well as real-time social media monitoring. It also offers multi-channel support so you can access your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media accounts using one dashboard. The platform is also equipped with social media metrics and analytics so you can check the status of your accounts as well as your competitors.
For startups and small businesses, you can use a limited version of Zoho Social for free. As your business expands, you may opt to upgrade it for some of their paid plans. They have two paid plans for businesses: the Standard package and the Professional plan which costs $8.33/month and $41.66/month respectively. They also have an Agency plan priced at $83.33/month and an Agency Plus plan that costs $125/month.
You can use all the software features for a period of time. Simply sign up for a Zoho Social free trial here.
If you want to have the flexibility to update your website without sacrificing too much your budget to pay the labor costs of experts, then having a website builder platform is a must. If you are unsure why you must utilize this tool, then consider some of its benefits. Firstly, it reinforces the online presence you build through social media sites. While you may always hire a website developer to create a site for you, this may cost you a lot of money. Second, you won’t be able to modify your site whenever you want. Long story short: an online presence establishes your credibility as a business, and a website builder brings you one step closer to achieving just that.
Wix is one of the most ideal website builders for small businesses. Equipped with fully-featured, mobile-optimized website editors, this platform gives you the capacity to build professional looking websites without having any coding expertise. Just choose from their selection of templates, customize it according to your preferences, and you’re good to go. It even has modules to help you create online stores, support live chat functions, and more. In addition, the system is equipped with site analytics tools to help you track the standing of your website.
The best part about Wix is that it is completely free to use. However, if you would like a larger storage space, more templates, or perhaps a free domain, you can choose to subscribe to their premium plans. Prices range from $4.50/month to $24.50/month depending on the types of features you need.
The vendor is offering the platform for free. You can sign up for the Wix free plan here.
If you want to boost your sales and reach more prospective customers, having an eCommerce shop is the way to go, and the best way to set up and manage your online store is through finding eCommerce software providers. Customers are starting to live a more fast-paced lifestyle of consumers, so they tend to spend less time shopping at physical stores and opt to check out online stores instead. Using these eCommerce applications, you can easily manage inventory, add or remove products, calculate taxes, and handle the many other aspects of running an online shop with ease.
A great example of this type of software is Shopify. Equipped with all the essential shopping cart features, this platform also handles the order fulfillment, dropshipping, marketing, and SEO needs of your online store. It also supports over 70 payment gateways, multiple customer profiles, and complete online shop branding. The interface of this system is also designed to be quick and easy to learn, but just in case you encounter technical difficulties, they provide 24/7 customer support. This way, you can be sure that your shop will be available to your customers at all times.
Shopify currently offers four enterprise packages priced according to the types of features you need and the payment gateways you’ll be using. You may choose from Shopify Lite, Basic Shopify, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify which cost $9/month, $29/month, $79/month, and $299/month respectively.
If you want to investigate the features closely you can easily do so when you sign up for a Shopify free trial here.
Once you start conducting business online through eCommerce stores, you must provide your customers with a way to send their payments safely yet conveniently. The best way to do this is through payment gateways. These payment gateways allow entrepreneurs to process credit, debit, and other alternative online payments. On top of that, these can make sure that your customers’ data are encrypted and secure during each transaction.
There are plenty of payment gateways available out there, but we suggest trying out Stripe. An online payment processing software, this provides a complete toolkit for businesses operating on the web. It has great customer interfaces, payment options, revenue optimization, and billing models built for all business types. It also has solutions that prevent fraud.
As for pricing, Stripe offers a straightforward pricing rate that costs 2.9% + 30¢ per successful charge for credit and debit cards. For enterprises that process larger transactions, a quote-based plan is available upon request. To know more about the features and terms you can contact Stripe here.
While spreadsheets have been tried and tested over the years by numerous companies, these aren’t exactly the most efficient way to generate invoices for your business. It is also not advisable to rely solely on accounting software to accomplish this task as this might not offer certain tools needed for optimized invoicing. By using invoicing tools, you can cut down the time you spend on inputting data, automate recurring payments, set up payment reminders, and more. In addition, these applications offer features that encourage faster payments, so you can get the money you’re owed on-time.
We highly recommend trying out Zoho Invoice if you don’t have an invoicing software yet. This powerful finance and accounting system helps users create and manage personalized yet professional-looking invoices with ease. Ideal for small to medium-sized businesses, it has an intuitive interface that makes it simpler to attach files and unbilled projects to invoices and get access to insights regarding payments. The platform also has open API capabilities that let it integrate with various third-party applications for easier configuration.
They offer a free plan that is inclusive of all the basic invoicing tools as well as a limited number of users, invoices, and workflows, which is great for startups with minimal clients. As your business grows, you can choose to upgrade to their paid plans: Basic costs $9/organization/month, Standard is priced at $19/organization/month, and Professional costs $29/organization/month.
You can check the solution closely when you sign up for a Zoho Invoice free trial here.
Human resource functions are some of the most laborious tasks in any business, but you can lighten their load by investing in a human resource management program. These platforms assist your HR personnel as they recruit new staff, prepare basic payroll, reconcile benefit statements, and manage all the other aspects of your workforce. These applications can also automate a huge chunk of HR responsibilities, simplify compliance, and speed up many HR tasks.
If you don’t already have one, we suggest you take a look at BambooHR. This online human resource management software service offers a user-friendly platform that can migrate data from spreadsheets to fit your requirements. Built for small and mid-sized businesses, it has all the essential HR functions such as personnel data modules, tracking capabilities, and advanced reporting. It even has a centralized employee database for businesses with different franchises.
For pricing, BambooHR is only available on a by-quote basis. So, be sure to contact the vendor to request an estimate. If you are not sure about purchasing this platform yet, you can also avail of their 7-day free trial to get a better feel of what the product has to offer. You can easily sign up for a BambooHR free trial here and get to know the features firsthand at no cost and without commitment.
It is crucial for businesses to be able to work on activities and projects seamlessly. To help you optimize your workflow, implementing collaboration software platforms is a great solution. Oftentimes, these systems offer a suite of applications for communication, document exchange, and conferencing. This helps you centralize your team and make sure that all your staff members are on the same page on the different aspects of your projects.
If you are looking for a great collaboration platform, Monday.com will be a boon for you. Formerly known as dapulse, this is one of the leading software solutions for collaboration; you can, in fact, check the myriad positive Monday.com reviews on the net. It syncs all information in a single hub so that your employees can keep track of common operations. Equipped with communication tools, email functions, and a knowledge base, the system can even integrate with Dropbox, Google Drive, Pipedrive, and other systems, This way, you can merge the platform with your favorite collaborative tools.
As for subscription plans, Monday.com offers packages that are priced according to storage capacity and feature sets. You may choose from their Basic plan which costs $25/month, the Standard package that is priced at $39/month, Pro plan which costs $59/month, and the Enterprise package which is available at $118/month. If you want to know more about the features you can easily sign up for a Monday.com free trial here.
Whether you own a restaurant, a clothing shop, or any other retail store, then it is a must for you to have POS software tools at your disposal. This type of system can help you simplify the way you sell products and services through sales tracking and reporting, inventory management, and analytics. With this, you simply have to input products and the system will help you determine costs and close sales transactions with ease. Some POS systems even offer payment management options, so you can easily transfer the money to your business’ bank account.
One of the best examples of this type of software is Vend. A cloud-based point-of-sale and retail management platform, its core functionalities focus mostly on inventory management, customer loyalty, eCommerce, and analytics. This allows you to optimize product management, organize customer data, as well as get an overview of your sales progress. On top of that, it is built to run on any hardware such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, and cash drawers, so you don’t need to purchase new equipment.
If you are interested in purchasing this platform, you can choose from their three monthly packages: Lite, Pro, and Enterprise. Their Lite and Pro plans cost $99 and $129 respectively while their Enterprise package is quote-based.
Your business is only as good as the people running it, so make sure that you provide your employees with avenues for career growth to help your company to reach new heights. The best way to do this is through training and continuing education. To organize courses and seminars that they can take for free, you might need a learning management system platform. This can help you create and facilitate educational activities online as well as evaluate learners with ease.
Let’s take a look at one good example by checking the Litmos LMS details. This corporate learning system is a comprehensive platform that lets you build courses, create learning paths, as well as assess the progress of the students in each course. It features a clutter-free administrative dashboard and a central chart where you can see user logins, completed tasks, admin activities, active courses, groups, conversations, reports, and more. The system also has an intuitive online course builder that supports multiple formats and smart gamification tools that can create personalized point systems and badges. It also has a reporting feature that lets you get in-depth insights regarding the impact of your courses and training modules.
This software is built to accommodate the needs of different sized companies, making it completely scalable. However, what makes it ideal for small businesses is its affordable subscription rates. These all come with free setup, they are inclusive of on-point customer support, and the rates vary depending on the number of users you plan on enrolling. Prices range from $6 to $2500. They also have quote-based plans in case you need a more customized plan.
You can use all the software features for a period of time. Simply sign up for a Litmos LMS free trial here.
Payroll preparation is often included in many human resource management systems. However, these tools might not be advanced enough. This is why payroll management programs are crucial systems to have. Unlike the payroll preparation features in HR systems, these solutions are more equipped to carry out the advanced functions required in the automatic calculations of deductions, tax preparation, insurance monitoring, and payroll creation. Oftentimes, it will also allow you to process direct paycheck deposits, generate tax forms, and print checks. With this at your disposal, you can reduce payroll processing errors and customize paychecks easily.
Gusto is a software that combines payroll, compliance, and benefits administration in one convenient platform. It is designed to automatically sync payroll with accounting, time tracking, workers compensation, benefits, and HR systems. On top of that, it has the capacity to manage any type of employee benefits you offer including medical, vision, dental, 401(k) retirement savings, commuter benefits, health FSA, and others. To ensure that your sensitive information is protected, Gusto is also equipped with a secure 256-bit SSL encryption. Other notable features that this platform has to offer is that it allows you to manage time off requests, company holiday calendars, employee surveys, and reporting structure.
Gusto offers three packages priced according to the number of features you want for your platform. You can choose from their Core Plan which includes full-service payroll tools, the Complete Plan which includes payroll and HR tools, and the Concierge Plan which includes payroll tools, HR features, and certified HR advisors. Prices start at $39/month plus $6/month per person.
You can easily sign up for a Gusto free trial here and get to know the features firsthand at no cost and without commitment.
Retail shops function more efficiently with the help of inventory management platforms, which will allow you to track your stock levels, orders, sales, and deliveries without even having to be at your storage facility. These work like a charm whether you own a fashion retail shop, a restaurant, or any other business that handles products. Keeping tabs on your inventory is difficult because you have to perform regular inventory counts, organize daily purchases, time when to order new stock, and more. This is why you need an inventory management software for your business. In the long run, this will help you organize your warehouse, keep your data secure and up-to-date, as well as get real-time updates on how your inventory is doing.
For small businesses, we recommend getting Zoho Inventory. This advanced, cloud-based productivity suite allows you to automate order and inventory management. It will provide you with tools to manage your offline and online orders with ease, create purchase orders, backorders, drop shipments and more within a single application. The system even has a custom dashboard that lets you get a clear view of your entire inventory and get better control over each batch, including their expiry. Best of all, it works seamlessly with the Zoho ecosystem as well as other third-party platforms.
Do you handle up to 20 online orders and 20 offline orders a month? In that case, you can use Zoho Inventory for free. This includes all of the essential features of the system and can support a limited number of e-commerce integrations, automated workflows, and shipping labels. If you have a larger client base, you may choose from their Basic plan, Standard plan, and Professional plan which costs $29/organization/month, $79/organization/month, and $249/organization/month.
If you want to know more about the features you can easily sign up for a Zoho Inventory free trial here.
Paper may be a timeless tool used to keep track of your finances, legal documents, or other files, but more and more companies are going paperless and utilizing document management software programs. No more missing a deadline because of misplaced documents or losing out on a crucial client deal because of outdated files. Document management software allows you to consolidate, organize, and store your paperwork. Using this application, you can reduce confusion among duplicate files, make documents easily accessible, and increase productivity in the workplace.
For this software, we highly recommend PandaDoc. This web-based document management platform is built to streamline the way you create, send documents, and track sales documents, essentially allowing you to close deals faster. It helps you gain complete control of your document processes with automated internal workflow, adjustable role management, user management, multiple workspaces, robust CPQ, custom email branding, auditing, and document analytics.
If you think PandaDoc is a good fit for your small business, you may choose from their three pricing plans. They have a Professional package for solo users at $19/user/month, a Business package for SMBs at $39/user/month, and an Enterprise package for large companies that is only available by quote.
Time is gold for both businesses and customers, so make sure that you manage your appointments as carefully as possible. By using an appointment scheduling software platforms, you can make sure that you never miss a single meeting. This type of application offers appointment reminders, calendar integration, employee and customer management, and other tools to help you arrange your schedule in the most efficient way possible.
One of the simplest appointment scheduling software for small and medium-sized businesses is vCita Online Scheduling. A self-service appointment tool, this is primarily designed for handling appointments scheduling, bookings, and calendar management. It is great for organizing appointments, meetings, and sessions without back and forth communication with clients. It can also support messages, document attachments, and payments within the system to make it more convenient for you and your clients. Additionally, the platform is equipped with automated scheduler synced with your calendar to manage confirmations and reminders and reduce no-shows.
For pricing, vCita Online Scheduling is set at a fixed rate of $15/month. However, if you are already using the vCita business management suite, this system should already be included as a module in their Essentials package.
An appealing test drive of all software features is available to you when you sign up for a vCita Online Scheduling free trial here.
Do you do a lot of brainstorming or planning for your business projects? In that case, you should consider getting a mind mapping software tools. While it is not exactly an essential tool for small businesses, it is handy to have if you want to organize your ideas, fine-tune concepts, as well as present information more efficiently. Using these will greatly aid you as you relay ideas to employees and stakeholders.
If you’d like to have software like this as part of your arsenal of business tools, FreeMind is the best choice for your small business. It is a no-fuss mind mapping software that will allow you to create, share, and store an unlimited number of mind maps for your business. It has drag-and-drop functionalities, one-click navigation capabilities, as well as smart information copying and pasting. Additionally, the platform can support collaborations by keeping track of revisions by multiple users. To top it all off, FreeMind is completely free to use–just download and install it and you’re good to go.
SaaS platforms are created in order to help companies thrive in today’s fast-paced business landscape. They are there to level the playing field among small businesses and large businesses. So, no matter your financial capacity, the size of your customer base, or the number of employees you currently have, you can be sure that there are business software solutions out there for you.
Growing your company is a gargantuan task that requires lots of time, energy, patience, and dedication. You’ll need all the help you can get, so why bother sweating the small stuff? Reap the benefits of using SaaS software and streamline repetitive tasks in your company’s operations! With this guide to the 21 best tools for small business owners, you should be able to find solutions that suit your business’ needs and match your preferences without compromising your budget.
Of course, before you invest in any of these solutions, you should also apprise yourself with the trends surrounding the SaaS software. Take a look at this 2018 SaaS industry market report to learn more about how SaaS technology has shaped the corporate ecosystem over the years.
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