SaaS (Software as a Service) is a cloud-based software that can be accessed all over the internet. The SaaS model is booming for both small and large businesses. SaaS applications are integrated into our day-to-day business activities, making it easier and faster for businesses to do the daily routine that helps them to drive economic growth.
According to a Business Research Company report:
“The global software as a service (SaaS) market is expected to grow from $225.6 billion in 2020 to $272.49 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.8%. The market is expected to reach $436.9 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 12.5%.”
Is the SaaS life cycle limited to mere application and development? Short answer – no. It is not only limited to application and development, in fact, it goes far beyond that and has an entire life cycle of its own.
Let’s start with an understanding of what the SaaS development life cycle is.
SaaS Development life cycle
The software development cycle is a process in software engineering to plan, manage, and control the process of developing or improving the software product.
This provides businesses with a well-organized strategy for building effective software, beginning with obtaining the very first requirements for a new product.
Why is SaaS Development Life Cycle important?
Every business is unique, and you need to find the solution that works best for you. Businesses all around the globe are fast adopting software as a service (SaaS) not only for its flexibility and cost-effectiveness but also for its agility.
The SaaS life cycle is important because you will have complete control of the entire cycle of your SaaS product. It divides the effort of developing software into a particular order, ensuring that everyone involved in the project is on the same page. It assures that the model works when it is delivered to clients.
A methodical strategy like this provides excellent software quality, delivers cost-effectiveness, and improves workflow.
Five Stages of SaaS Development Life Cycle
Here are the main stages of the SaaS development life cycle:
1. Gathering and Analyzing Stage
This is the first stage of SLDC, similar to traditional software. The primary goal for the stage is to take a real problem and turn it into a specific solution that can apply to multiple problems.
To meet the target, you will need to reach the right audience and try to find out their pain points.
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” said Seth Godin, one of the best marketing guru.
Every SaaS company, whether they are a startup or an established business, should have a well-defined customer profile. Defining the ideal customer is the first step to defining your brand because it helps you figure out who you are selling to.
Sue Barsamian, Board Director at 3 public companies (Five9, Box, Norton Lifelock) said, “Product-market fit is the ultimate option for go-to-market, sales and marketing productivity, and net retention difficulties”, during an interview conducted by Sid Tandon.
The most successful SaaS companies know their ideal customer inside and out. They know what drives them to buy and how to communicate with them in a way that makes them feel special and important. You can’t create a great product without knowing your ideal customer.
You should conduct extensive research on your target audience and competitors.
So, how do you find out about your ideal customer?
One of the best ways is by using a persona. Personas are fictional characters created from research on your audience.
By creating personas, you can define common traits that make up your ideal customer. You can then use these traits as a guide for new features or the development of your product.
In this stage, you will describe what the target customer wants from a comparable app to yours, what pain points does your product solves, analyze their feedback, how the user will use your product, models for sales, marketing, licensing, etc.
2. Planning the stages of SaaS development
After the research stage, you plan the various stages of the SaaS software development.
Planning the stages of a SaaS product can be difficult. That is because it needs to be more complex than the first release of a product.
The basic steps are:
- Planning the idea
- Designing the MVP or Minimum Viable Product
- Testing the product on users with surveys, interviews, and A/B tests.
- Creating channels for communication with users (forum, blog, social networks, etc.)
- Conducting beta testing.
- Launching the product into the market.
The growth of your business depends on how fast you can get through these stages. Because of the planning stage, you get a clear understanding of what should be done to develop your idea.
3. Subscribing & Configuring
During this phase, all major architectural and price choices should be completed.
Marketing experts say that the best way to make a profit is to get your customers talking about your product or service. Give maximum value to your customer at each stage of business.
The more word-of-mouth you have, the bigger your audience will grow, and the easier it will be to cross-sell your other products or services. Continuing to meet and exceed customer expectations can build loyal customers to grow your business.
You need to develop a subscription management strategy that includes how you will manage customers’ trials, renewals, cancellations (also called churning), and upgrades. Some services may include free trial periods; these need to be managed in advance according to the contract specified for the service.
If you use more than one cloud provider’s service, make sure they are compatible with each other. This means setting up backups and disaster recovery plans for each one before signing the Service-Level Agreement (SLA) with the chosen provider. SLAs should be updated regularly as the needs of the business change.
A cloud backup and disaster recovery plan is a very important aspect of any business. If your source data aren’t protected, you could be putting your business in danger.
As a business owner, you should know the risks of not having a backup and disaster recovery plan in place. The cost to recover from a disaster that could have been prevented with a proper backup plan is estimated to be $5 million per hour.
A cloud backup and disaster recovery plan can include: Selecting the cloud provider: As you evaluate cloud providers, consider these factors: capacity, reliability, data.
Storage capacity is an important factor to look at when choosing a SaaS provider.
Why? Because it affects the amount of data, you’ll need to store and how much computing power you’ll need to run your applications. Reliability is a critical issue because if your data goes down, your business can suffer a major loss.
Cross-selling is a strategy that many companies have been using for years. It involves offering products or services from one company as an add-on to another.
4. Developing & testing the SaaS software
At this point, you can go back to your business users and get them involved.
The time to get involved is early in the process when you can influence the outcome and make sure that you have a voice at the table.
There are several approaches, among which the Agile technique is becoming the most popular. This technique adheres to best practices, which help in the development of high-quality SaaS products.
The development stage comprises many technical factors, such as selecting a programming language that allows you to stay up with the current trends and contemporary technologies, producing an MVP, integrating the API to enhance SaaS features, continually monitoring consumer demands, and optimizing your product.
5. Maintenance and Support
During this phase, you have to deploy and maintain your application. Once the software is released, it should get timely software updates to keep support calls to a minimum while continuously improving the customer experience.
The Product Management team is ideally located to understand the end-user need, collect and prioritize the requirements from the business users and then ensure that they are easily developed.
SaaS companies are always looking for ways to increase the number of customers they have. By helping their customer base grow, SaaS companies can also grow their revenue if they’re charging a monthly or annual fee.
How Your Business Fits Into It?
Cloud adoption has changed the SaaS development business model. The SaaS model can be used to build any type of application and its life cycle is a very well-defined process.
The idea behind this SaaS life cycle is you are always improving your SaaS product and giving your customer the best product.
Ross Perot, the Texas billionaire business magnate, said, “Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.”
The SaaS development life cycle is a series of stages that the business `takes to develop its software product. When these steps are followed, you have a chance of creating, maintaining, and updating a software product at a par.
The no-code development platform is a boon for SaaS startups who are looking to get their products in the market as soon as possible. This platform also helps enterprises with fusing technology to create their outstanding products.
Undaku is a powerful no-code development platform that gives you all the software development capabilities without having to hire an expensive development team. This frees up your loads of time and money that can be used for other tasks.
We hope you will visit our website today to learn more about how we can help your SaaS business to grow.
(Article contributed by Katie Luther.)