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Develop a SaaS Application

You need to understand the ins and outs of the SaaS development process to make proper decisions when it comes to hiring a dev team, allocating the budget, or marketing the new solution. We help companies excel by developing SaaS solutions for startups and mature businesses. So rest assured: the tips we give in this piece are tried and tested.

A SaaS application is a web-based app that replaces offline software. Its subscription-based, on-demand nature frees your clients from having to install it locally on their devices, as well as upgrading the hardware required to run it. 

Clients usually use SaaS solutions from connected devices via an internet browser or different APIs while the software provider carries out all maintenance. Typically, its infrastructure is maintained by a third-party cloud-computing provider.

Basic set of SaaS app features

  • The ability to login and logout of your user profile
  • Subscription-based billing model
  • Flexibility
  • The option of receiving email notifications
  • Application and data security
  • User-friendly interface
  • Automatic updates

How to develop a SaaS application

Engineering

This is the largest chunk of work in SaaS software development. Building a SaaS application from scratch requires months and an entire team of dedicated experts, with everyone focused on their field of expertise.

Design

You can’t just start building cloud applications. Okay, yes, you can, but it will cost you since without designing the solution first, you risk producing software that’s unstable and full of unnecessary, faulty features. The design phase has multiple cycles and results in essential artifacts like the software architecture document, user stories, style guides and mockups, and sometimes even a functional prototype. 

But let’s focus on the aspects inherent to SaaS solutions, starting with the app’s hosting architecture or how it accommodates its users. You can go with a single- or multi-tenant approach.

The single-tenant architecture provides every client with their own server when using your software. It’s more suitable for bigger clients who may exhaust your resources quickly.

On the other hand, the multi-tenant architecture allows multiple users to access the same database through separate accounts, meaning they’re unaware of the other’s existence. There are two ways to implement the multi-tenant approach:

  • One app instance, one database. With this setup, all users entering your cloud environment access the same database until it’s full. While this approach is easy to implement, its scaling abilities are limited, which affects the overall performance of the app and the user experience.
  • One app instance, several databases. Here, each database is only filled up to a certain point before redirecting new users to another database. That way, users have access to more resources, so the software feels more responsive. This approach is much more expensive to implement and requires more resources early on.

The next step is choosing your software development tech stack, which is the foundation of your web app. Many factors come into play when deciding how you want to build your app: flexibility, scalability, budget, and speed.

Partition

To account for future alterations to the software, from scaling and improving performance to operational flexibility and enhanced security, you need to divide your software’s data into separate data stores — partitions. This way, it’s easier to handle each partition separately without the complexity of the entire database.

There are different types of partitioning strategies like horizontal, vertical, and functional, each having its benefits and compromises.

Deploy

Think of software deployment as opening the front door of your store. Everything should be in place so users can use your software, easily find extensive documentation, and be able to contact your support right away. And to keep it that way, deployment needs automation similar to a factory’s production line. Software updates roll out in real-time, getting released as soon as they’re ready.

Testing

SaaS software testing is all about making sure it meets your and user requirements before and after the release date, plus has as few bugs as possible. It’s a good idea to incorporate both manual and automated testing approaches in your quality assurance process to cover the software entirely. Plus, beta testers can help you discover some non-trivial use cases you haven’t even thought of. You can also add cloud security assessment to this process.

Managing & monitoring

The development team (which we’ll cover in detail later on) works best when all they do is code and test, while a manager oversees the process and guides them. Managers know best which tasks should be assigned to whom and who isn’t skilled enough yet to handle more senior-level assignments. This is the person you can count on for updates on the SaaS development process.

Optimizing

Optimizing SaaS environments boils down to optimizing costs, tenant experience, availability and performance, timing, and bulk operations. Whichever you need to optimize, make sure you do it after scaling to the desired size. Then, it’s a matter of identifying what your software needs to run smoothly by making sure you have enough servers and databases for your user base. The trick is to have enough resources for a pleasant user experience but not too much that you’re wasting money on staff and equipment.

Migrating from on-premise to cloud

Unless your SaaS development framework was cloud-based from the start, you need to move it there. Depending on your server type, amount of data, and acceptable downtime, you have multiple migration options to choose from: 

  • P2V (physical-to-virtual) 
  • P2C (physical-to-cloud) 
  • V2V (virtual-to-virtual)
  • V2C (virtual-to-cloud)

SaaS development team composition

While the number of team members can vary, there are specific roles you need to fill to develop cloud-based SaaS software.

  • Project manager. A person responsible for planning the software development process, assigning tasks, and following up on their fulfillment, ensuring the progress adheres to a set timeframe and requirements.
  • Business analyst. A person who analyzes your software’s role in the market and documents its progress, assesses and builds a viable business model for you.
  • UX/UI designer. A person who designs and implements your application’s user interface and experience, ensuring it’s easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing, and aligns with your brand.
  • Backend developer. A person who works on the server side of your SaaS application, making sure it functions as planned using scripting languages.
  • Frontend developer.A person who works on the client side, turning designs into code, usually using JavaScript and its frameworks.
  • QA engineer.A person who tests your SaaS software for defects, bugs, and issues and reports them to be fixed by the engineers.

Want to know more about SaaS Applications.

We describe in details about SaaS Development as per business point, about how you can start.

If you are leaning towards methodology DevOps for SaaS projects, you will also need a DevOps engineer.

First of all, the Company needs to have proven experience in SaaS application development. Look at their portfolio and case studies to see if what they can do is close to what you have in mind. Next, check client testimonials and reviews on platforms like Clutch and Goodfirsms. This will give you an idea of what cooperating with them is really like.

In both its forms, multi-tenant app architecture is much cheaper, easier to scale, and generally better in managing and adding new tenants than single-tenant. It allows you to start small and grow as needed while still providing your clients with a nice software experience.

It could take 10-18 months from the early stages of planning to product launch. But this depends on multiple factors such as the complexity of your app, the scale, the tech stack, and the number of developers on your team. 

The cost of a SaaS application varies depending on the region of your team. For example, hiring from the US could cost you $2,90,000 per app, while moving the process to South Asia could lower the costs to anywhere from $1,30,000.

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