What should be your priority SaaS solutions if you are a startup or a small business? The right choice of your initial technology stack can be vital, as you need your business to take off on solid footing with the right tools, without overspending on features you won’t use. You don’t have to stock up on all popular SaaS solutions; it wouldn’t only be practical, but would definitely be expensive.
On average, small businesses will use only around three to five apps to jumpstart their business. Later on, you can add more apps as your business expands or as the situation calls for it. Plus, many vendors have flexible plans that allow you to scale up your use of their software as your business grows.
SaaS software is a cloud-hosted, online version of an application that you access through a connected device and which you pay for based on usage. Requiring just a web browser to use rather than software to install on your PC, SaaS significantly reduces capital outlay and operating costs, including purchasing of perpetual software licenses.
You can also access SaaS solutions anytime, anywhere with no worries of downtimes, application freezes, and crashes–things more likely to happen on your end in your machine. SaaS secures your data and accelerates time to market as well.
Source: McAfeeDesigned by
Because of these benefits, SaaS adoption and spending have increased. An IDG survey has shown that 73% of companies are using cloud technologies, and 17% are planning to do the same in the following 12 months. But with the myriad options out there, it can be difficult to choose the best software for small business. To help you with the problem, we came up with a list, which we further subdivided into three groups, depending on the type of your company and your development potential.
As a startup with a small team, you only need to have the essential SaaS tools for small business that will allow you to quickly hit the ground running. Here are SaaS solutions that work great even with very small teams:
Online collaboration apps will allow you to capture and share files, work with your team wherever they are, and connect with them from whatever device. This ensures that everyone on the team is in the loop and on the same page.
Recommended solution: monday.com features a single hub that syncs all project data for easy and highly visible collaboration and communication between teams and members.
Good collaboration software possesses many of the top technologies for business collaboration, shown in the graph below. This means that top collaboration systems either provide built-in support for said features or allow seamless integration with external systems that are capable of such functions.
Chat or text51%
Document sharing platforms24%
Project management platforms20%
Source: Dimensional ResearchDesigned by
You need to have your financials in order, and accounting software will help you automate financial management, reduce expenses, and accurately report on your financial activities.
Recommended solution: FreshBooks is a lean and mean small business app designed to streamline complex accounting processes, including online invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, reporting, taxes, and payments.
Recommended solution: Tipalti, a cloud-based account payable (AP) software, provides flexible features that enable small businesses to automate the payments and invoicing processes, including payment remittance, tax calculation, invoicing, payment reconciliation, financial reporting, and compliance management.
You may be taking in more specialized or complicated projects, and a good PM solution can assist you in every stage of the project lifecycle.
Recommended solution: monday.com provides a visual approach to manage all your projects in a single place while at the same time, allowing you to monitor each of them in detail as well as take the right actions, such as setting a deadline, assigning to owners, and collaborating with others to ensure that no task gets past its due date.
Detailed monday.com Review
Project management software is practically a collection of functionalities that, together, make handling projects a lot easier. They usually include the following features:
Source: eyleanDesigned by
Today’s cloud communication software offers tools to let you connect, work, and link with your employees, customers, suppliers, and stakeholders, anytime and anywhere with whatever connected device.
Recommended solution: Slack brings all your communications together with real-time messaging, archiving, and search function. You can have all your team communication in one place that is instantly searchable and always available.
Detailed Slack Review
CRM includes applications to help you build strong relationships with your customers, boost conversations, and improve revenue rates based on customer data coming from multiple interaction channels.
Recommended solution: HubSpot CRM is a free but robust CRM built on top of the HubSpot sales, marketing, and service suite, which helps you manage the entire customer journey.
It’s true that all businesses have customers that they need to build a relationship with; therefore, using a CRM system makes sense. However, some industries benefit more from this type of tool compared to others. Here are the top five sectors that use CRM software the most.
Having a dedicated document management software harnesses digital technologies that let you go totally paperless when creating, processing, publishing, sharing, filing, organizing, and accessing documents.
Recommended solution: G Suite is Google’s widely-used productivity platform for documents, spreadsheets, cloud storage, email, collaboration, and search.
Detailed G Suite Review
If you’re into online selling and retailing, ecommerce software will help you manage all aspects of your online business, including adding or removing products, handling inventory, calculating taxes, and other details needed to fulfill orders for a website.
Recommended solution: Vend is a POS and ecommerce solution designed to help retailers manage their inventories, track and organize customer data, process online payments, and generate analytics and reports.
Detailed Vend Review
Online markets took an uptake several years ago and the trend seems to be rising. More and more products that can support such business types are being developed by companies and patronized by users. In 2018, the global market value of ecommerce applications had reached $5.09 billion, and it’s expected to breach the $6 billion mark in 2022, as shown in the chart provided.
Source: Cloudways, 2018Designed by
This software solution helps you create a website and manage its content. It also comes with a variety of publishing options, built-in text editors, filtering and indexing features, SEO, and metadata functionality.
Recommended solution: WordPress is the most popular website creator and content management system with a user-friendly backend, plenty of third-party plugins, and backed by an active global community of developers.
Detailed WordPress Review
This automates scheduling of your appointments and online bookings and syncs them with whatever calendar and device you use. It will provide notifications and reminders for your important activities and schedules for the whole week, month, or even year.
Recommended solution: SimplyBook.me streamlines scheduling and booking procedures and is accessible from mobile devices and PCs, allowing you to set schedules and make bookings anytime from any location.
One might make the mistake of thinking that appointment scheduling solutions are for big companies with a large workforce only. That’s not true. There are scheduling tools that are specially created for small businesses, and typically, they sport the following features:
Source: keap.comDesigned by
Marketers use this tool to get information about customers’ preferences and feedback on social networks and apply marketing and content enhancements to respond to and engage with customers.
Recommended solution: Zoho Social provides keyword tracking, social media metrics, real-time monitoring, and a host of other features to help you get the pulse of your customers and audience on social media platforms.
Your business has successfully passed the startup stage, making you one of the 85% of businesses that survive their first year, that is also experiencing operational growth; you should consider some extra small business software that will allow you to automate some processes, such as handling clients, marketing or managing employees. Here are some solutions you may want to try out:
A collection of web systems and apps designed for campaign management and resource optimization, which offer features, such as data collection, branding, event scheduling, content distribution, and lead nurturing and converting.
Recommended solution: HubSpot Marketing provides tools for personalized and targeted marketing, content optimization, mobile, and social media marketing, as well as for analytics.
Marketing sectors have evolved dramatically over the years as culture and norms shift from one trend to another. However, one of the biggest factors that determine the success of a campaign is how technology is being used and integrated into the process. The fastest-growing marketing technologies that are around today include artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, as presented below.
IoT / Connected devices34%
Social listening tools31%
Customer identity and access management30%
Source: SalesforceDesigned by
The solution can scale across diverse audiences and can automate email tracking and newsletter delivery, designing and sharing of newsletters, creation of permission-based mailing lists, and inbound lead generation.
Recommended solution: Wix ShoutOut lets you create, send, and share promotions with your subscribers, track views and clicks, build a subscriber base, manage contacts, and engage prospects in social media.
You need to provide more robust customer support if your customer base is expanding, and a dedicated help desk software will help you address and resolve customer issues more efficiently across multiple channels.
Recommended solution: Zendesk is the most widely-used cloud help desk, consisting of ticket management, chat, call center, and knowledge base modules.
One of the biggest benefits of a help desk solution is how it merges different channels used in customer service, including phone and email, into a single platform. The chart below displays the most used customer service channels in the US that help desk software consolidates.
Online Support Portal62%
Source: ParatureDesigned by
When you have employees, a payroll system should be in place to ensure accurate payment and taxation, as well as compliance with benefits and other regulations. Most payroll systems integrate with accounting or HR solutions.
Recommended solution: Gusto combines payroll, benefits administration, HR, and compliance features in a scalable suite.
Managing your workforce is the function of an HR software. It streamlines human resource management, including recruitment, screening, hiring, evaluation, onboarding, training, and education. It also makes sure that HR and labor laws are followed.
Recommended solution: BambooHR is designed for small and medium businesses to manage their online human resource needs, including applicant tracking, employee onboarding, benefits management, and reporting.
Most HR software, especially the good ones, offer not only the basic human capital management features like onboarding and payroll integration. They also provide managers with an avenue through which they can improve the engagement level of their employees. This is an essential aspect of the system as it yields quantifiable results, including the following:
Source: Aberdeen Group
Sales automation solutions enable you to standardize sales processes and tasks, speeding up the tracking of your sales lifecycles, and helping you accomplish your goals on schedule.
Recommended solution: HubSpot Sales is part of the HubSpot suite that focuses on sales automation, pipeline management, and CRM.
LMS is built to help you orient, train, and further educate your employees to keep them engaged, knowledgeable, and updated about company policies, work roles and responsibilities, and business activities.
Recommended solution: Litmos is an affordable and easy-to-use collaborative learning platform that includes features for course creation and delivery, certification, gamification, and course selling.
In a world of instant research and online knowledge base, LMS maintains its place as most companies’ primary source of training programs for employees. That’s because not only is this beneficial to onboarding newbies, but it’s capable of various learning-related functions as well, such as record keeping and virtual classroom. Other features of LMS include:
Source: DigitalChalkDesigned by
Companies use this software to supervise the activities of remote technicians and field service personnel. It allows you to access customer data, manage service orders, and do route planning, among others, for more efficiency at less cost.
Recommended solution: ProntoForms automates mobile workflows and makes it easy for remote workers to collect data on a mobile device, access company data in the field, and automatically share results and information.
Some SaaS solutions are industry-specific, meaning they offer features and automation designed for your particular industry, be it a dental clinic, gym, restaurant, or boutique. If you own one of these, then you should check out some dedicated solutions:
You would need an inventory management software to efficiently track inventory levels, sales processes, orders, and deliveries. It offers an improved way to organize inventory information compared to spreadsheets or paper.
Recommended solution: Zoho Inventory is part of the popular Zoho suite, which is designed to help you automate order fulfillment and inventory, track deliveries, and, in general, make smarter business decisions.
One major issue that inventory management software solves is the prevention of errors that stem from mishandled inventories. It’s a big thing since a portion of the company’s revenue goes into fixing those errors. And they’re not cheap, as shown in the graph below.
Source: Stitch Labs
The solution helps you automate the process of planning, marketing, organizing, and analyzing promotional events, including conducting real-time surveys to get customer feedback.
Recommended solution: Eventbrite is a fully customizable event planning platform with intuitive tools that help you save time and increase event sales, regardless of the size and complexity of the event.
Detailed Eventbrite Review
This lets you efficiently manage your restaurant business, including frontend activities like order tracking and seating, and backend processes such as accounting, inventory, and employee scheduling and payroll.
Recommended solution: Toast POS is a cloud- and tablet-based restaurant management solution that has tons of functionalities that include POS, reporting, credit card processing, CRM, gift and loyalty, online ordering, labor management, and inventory.
A restaurant management app is more than just a POS system as it also caters to the other needs of a business in the food industry. This includes payroll, order tracking, etc. However, the most requested tools that restaurant owners want in the app they use are the following:
Source: ToastDesigned by
Used with hardware devices like cash registers, computers, or tablets, this solution lets you input products, determine costs, and close sales. It can also handle inventory, sales reporting, analytics, and customer and employee management.
Recommended solution: Square allows you to take payments using your mobile devices and can be implemented on the counter or on-the-go with its magstripe reader and real-time sales and inventory tracker.
Detailed Square Review
Developed for contractors and construction companies to help them in important areas, such as planning, scheduling, field service management, project estimating, design, accounting, and portfolio management, to name some.
Recommended solution: CoConstruct offers unrestrained customization to meet the specific operating needs of clients, builders, and design-build firms looking for a flexible tool to manage diverse activities, designs, or materials.
Construction management software belongs to a very particular niche and, thus, has its own set of specific features as well. Topping the list of its features is the module for handling the list of materials needed for a project. The others are shown in the chart provided.
Source: Engineering News-RecordDesigned by
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More and more companies are adopting cloud technology through the SaaS model because it has proven to be a viable and practical alternative to traditional methods of software delivery and deployment. Server rooms and traditional software installation, management, and maintenance have been taken over by SaaS cloud solutions. The growing demand for SaaS is one of the factors why the SaaS market is predicted to grow over $33.2 billion in 2022.
Why are SMBs embracing SaaS software solutions? One study has shown that companies have realized other competitive advantages of cloud technology beyond cost reduction.
Here are the key benefits of SaaS software to small business:
It’s not hard to understand why SaaS software is becoming the preferred solution for small business. SaaS provides features and capabilities that give SMBs a competitive edge while leveling the playing field with enterprises and larger corporations. SMBs need not invest in expensive IT systems and infrastructure but simply pay for a subscription to access tools that enable them to compete in a cutthroat business environment.
You may also want to learn the state of the SaaS landscape today with our extensive analysis of the 2019 SaaS Market Industry Report.
You already know about the benefits of SaaS listed above. But what particular features should you be looking for in a SaaS solution for your company? Our advice is to focus on the following aspects:
These should all be common characteristics of SaaS solutions that your small businesses can really take advantage of. When visiting SaaS sites, you’ll notice that vendors go all out in emphasizing their product’s small business-friendly features and pricing, a situation that bodes well for you. They have come to realize the importance and potential of small businesses, and the fact that SMBs are the biggest users and adopters of SaaS today.
While everything looks rosy for the industry, there are some issues that have cropped up with SaaS solutions that are mainly centered around the fact that the software, and everything that supports it, are managed by an external company. As you can see from the image above, SaaS virtually takes over the entire ecosystem (orange color) as compared to those under your scope (blue color). This SaaS setup has led to the following:
Many of these SaaS issues, however, have steadily been addressed in recent years, making SaaS solutions even more dependable, reliable, and secure today. Vendors usually have to ensure high standards because customers can easily look for other SaaS providers with so many quality ones available in the market.
It’s usually a good idea to stay on top of the latest SaaS trends, simply because innovations, such as the advent of artificial intelligence, are constantly reshaping the market, and you don’t want to be left behind with an old solution that doesn’t keep up with technology developments. It will go a long way and give you an immediate advantage by staying up-to-date with the latest SaaS trends. Here’s what trends you should watch out for in 2020 and beyond:
SaaS is there to give you the means to move your business forward in today’s digitally connected world. Despite having limited budgets, small businesses using cloud platforms get access to professional support and the latest technology, giving them much needed solutions to optimize their operations and make them competitive.
Statistics have shown the wide acceptance and adoption of cloud and SaaS technology by SMBs, seeing that there is no reason not to try them. The compelling factors for SaaS use–affordability and flexibility–are also primary benefits that small businesses have taken advantage of since these translate to savings, more opportunities, and an agile organization able to weather business challenges.
On another note, if you are interested in knowing in which direction businesses are going when it comes to technological investments, you can check this list of technology statistics.
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