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10 Questions to Ask Your SaaS Provider

Spending on cloud-based human capital management (HCM) technology is expected to exceed on-premise HCM solutions by 20171, as more businesses understand the financial and productivity benefits of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). If you’re looking to make the switch, tread carefully to avoid being locked into the wrong solution or failing to achieve a strong return on investment.

You can unlock financial, efficiency, and technological advantages by implementing a SaaS HR solution. However, it is important to choose the solution that aligns with your business goals. You must also ensure it is supported by a knowledgeable and responsive team.

With a cloud-based solution, you also need to be confident that the vendor’s cloud architecture will provide the level of security and system availability necessary to achieve your goals. This is particularly relevant for workforce management solutions, which affect everybody in the organisation.

Businesses should ask 10 critical questions when it comes to choosing a SaaS provider:

1. What security measures are in place?

Security is one of the biggest concerns for applications containing employee information and other HR data. Vetting a cloud vendor’s security credentials should be a top priority. A reliable SaaS vendor will uphold strict physical, technical, and administrative security measures.

2. Where will my data be stored?

You should work with vendors whose data centres are located in countries with stringent privacy laws and a reputation for enforcement to avoid data falling into the hands of unauthorised users. This protects you against failure to comply with relevant laws and policies around how data is generated, secured, and stored.

3. What is your disaster recovery plan?

A comprehensive, adequate and regularly-tested disaster recovery plan is vital for confidence that the cloud provider’s infrastructure is resilient, and that your data will be protected.

4. What redundancy measures do you have in place?

In the case of a failure, applications and data must still be available whenever and wherever employees need it. Adequate built-in redundancies are critical to ensure data is protected and accessible.

5. What if the power goes out or the Internet connection is lost?

A SaaS provider should be able to provide detailed information about how data is protected or will be restored in the event of a power outage or if Internet connectivity is lost.

6. What is your average uptime?

When choosing a cloud solution, ensure that the vendor delivers average uptime that matches data availability expectations. In addition, you should ask the provider to define their advertised, contracted, and actual uptimes.

7. What certifications do you have?

Cloud-based application providers participate in regular security and standards audits by credible third-party entities, so you should expect to see these types of audits in place. Audits demonstrate credibility and confidence in the vendor’s ability to deliver.

8. How long have you been operating as a SaaS provider?

Many providers are just beginning to enter the SaaS market, and are retrofitting their processes and applications to support a new way of doing business. This is an intensive and demanding undertaking, and often includes a distinct learning curve. Long-term SaaS providers have grown with the cloud movement and adapted their technology, processes, and procedures to better fit cloud delivery. As a result, they are more likely to have a proven track record of successful cloud implementations, as well as strong customer references.

9. What do your SaaS fees include?

Unlike traditional software solutions, which typically have steep upfront costs plus ongoing support fees, many cloud solutions are designed to allow you to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee. Updates and upgrades, however, are not always included in these subscription fees. You must clearly understand what is included in a provider’s pricing structure.

10. Where can I go for help?

One of the primary benefits of cloud-based solutions is the reduction in time required for the implementation of the product, so you can realise the benefits of the new solution sooner. To maximise those benefits, you must be aware of what support the vendor provides.

In addition to the significant cost savings, SaaS provides a number of other benefits, including immediate access to new features and performance enhancements. In the case of pure web-based applications, you can expect a higher-quality user experience because the application is available more readily and on more devices than other outmoded software designs.

Using cloud services frees up more of your company’s resources and lets you focus on your core competencies while shedding hosting infrastructure and maintenance from your overhead costs.

1 Gartner, The Top Three Impacts of Cloud Computing on Human Capital Management Business Applications, December 30, 2013.