We lost an Abila MIP Fund Accounting sale this month, so I’m still kind of crabby. The prospect had his sights set on a pure SaaS (Software as a Service) solution. Despite MIP’s ability to deliver the required functionality I had a feeling that the prospect had settled on a competitor’s product before we presented our proposed solution. It may have been form over substance and then again, maybe not. So what did we learn that may be useful to nonprofits managers who are considering new financial management software?
In an earlier article and blog post this year, I tried to present the options that are now available in acquiring and deploying accounting software. With the move to the cloud the choices are much enriched to the ultimate benefit of the buyer. But one has to wonder whether the movement to the pure SaaS model that some accounting software vendors are joining will deliver the same robustness and flexibility of the client-server model. In the previous article I presented SaaS as more of pricing mechanism, but to be fair pricing is only part of the generally used meaning of the term. Pure SaaS has the following characteristics attributable to an article by Tyler Bain.
- A company creates a software product and hosts that product on multiple servers. The company manages the hardware and software—and realizes the cost of that management.
- Customers subscribe to the service—getting the right to use the software for as long as they continue to pay the recurring subscription fees.
- The company makes both major and minor updates to the software, and the customers automatically get those updates as part of their subscription.
I think there is a growing perception that SaaS is the only way to go and some of the issues with traditional client-server technology will disappear while significantly reducing costs. But not so fast, there is no magic elixir and business users should still take a deliberative, needs-based approach in acquiring accounting software regardless how it is delivered and paid for.
In future articles, I will provide more information and comment on the benefits, risks, and costs of SaaS as applied to accounting software.