Hey guys, today in this article, we will discuss how to build a SaaS application from scratch. So keep reading.
The Software as a Service (or SaaS) model is continuously replacing the traditional model as a mainstream method of software distribution for the last two decades.
SaaS solutions bring a ton of benefits to its users, such as fast distribution, enhanced security, simple maintenance, etc. It is a great tool to solve problems for users and a reliable way to get profit for SaaS software developers. In this article, you will learn how to create a SaaS application in a step-by-step way, covering all the essentials and more.
However, before we step into the development process itself, let’s talk about the types of SaaS apps to make the choice for your app idea easier.
Types Of SaaS Apps
SaaS software can be broken down into several types, divided mainly by the sphere of applicability, such as account managing, or resource planning. The SaaS technology stack is constantly evolving, and new spheres are getting covered with each passing year: it seems that SaaS, in theory, is almost omni-applicable.
Here are the main current SaaS types:
Customer Relationship Management (or CRM) Apps
Customer data is crucial to any modern business. It defines the sale strategies and the ways of product promotion. A CRM application is a great tool to manage customer information: it can be a simple software for automating email-related tasks or a complex aggregation of specific tools.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Apps
When a business grows large, the variety of business processes involved in activity becomes so wide that the company needs a specialized tool to manage them. Risk management, budget assessment, regulatory compliance, accounting — ERPs take care of them all.
Accounting SaaS applications automate your client’s financial operations, which is pretty much vital when they deal with a large number of financial transactions on a daily basis.
There are a lot of SaaS app feature options for such software: they can provide you with creating invoices and bills, forming reports on your financial expenses, or integrating with online payment services which allows you to check your account balance in-app.
Project Management Apps
PM SaaS applications provide enhanced progress tracking and team management for your clients. Upgrading to such an app from spreadsheets can skyrocket the enterprise’s efficiency due to the real-time synchronization of data.
Project management SaaS software can also include such features as tracking tasks, managing permissions for pages, and instant notifications.
Content Management Systems And eCommerce SaaS Applications
SaaS apps for e-commerce have an exceptional advantage for new companies — they provide the ability to begin sales immediately and not waste time on creating a website and developing UX/UI design. They also offer your clients features for look customization and a wide variety of possible payment system integrations.
Additionally, a lot of e-commerce platforms allow for customer-oriented features, such as adding gift cards or discount certificates.
A CMS is oriented towards creating and publishing content: blog posts, articles, etc. Depending on your clients’ requirements, it can also be developed to include managing and posting images, audio, and video content.
Communication SaaS-Based Applications
Multiple SaaS communication apps are widely used by businesses for messaging and file transfer. Such applications are usually developed for multiple platforms to allow their users to reach their colleagues from anywhere at any time.
Used by human resources managers, these applications provide access to tools for recruiting, tracking performance and analyzing it, and scheduling work interviews. It is good for actively growing companies because it makes managing hundreds of new candidates and employees much easier.
Additional features to an HR/HRM solution include staff productivity management and attendance tracking.
SaaS Payment Gateway And Billing Solutions
Payment gateway apps provide a payments acceptance feature and allow handling a large number of transactions daily. These applications usually make a huge emphasis on data protection and customer safety, vital for their role as data mediators between banks and merchants.
Payments gateway apps have a distinct speed advantage over traditional methods, and they will allow your clients to simplify their personal and business transaction processing.
Now, after we’ve dealt with the types of SaaS apps options for development, let’s get to the core — steps of SaaS product development.
How To Build A SaaS Application From Scratch
Step 1: Do A Market Research
Before even getting started with custom SaaS development, it is a good idea to make sure the market needs your product. Conduct thorough research of your market segment to clarify the following:
- Who is your customer?
- What does your customer need?
- Who are your competitors?
- What features and benefits do they provide?
- What business models do they use?
Explore your business opportunities and define the best way you can approach the market at its current state.
Step 2: Define Your SaaS Business Concept And Plan
After you complete your market research, it should be clear what product you might want to bring out there, but you need to clarify how you want to do it. For that, you need a business plan that will define the most important points in your future development process. Here are the questions you might want to get clear:
- How will your product be different from those already on the market?
- What pain points do your clients have and how will your application help to deal with them?
- How will you reach your target audience? This means choosing a marketing strategy for your product.
- How will your app make you a profit? The SaaS monetization model is a cornerstone of any successful SaaS project.
- Financial coverage and expenditure: where will you get funds for your project and how exactly will you spend them?
- How are you going to realize the vision for your product?
Your plan isn’t set in concrete, it will most likely change a lot, but at this point, it is necessary to write out to achieve a better overall vision.
Step 3: Define Features And Functionalities
During this step, you need to clarify the core functionalities of your product, and also any additional features that your app is going to include. Leave some space for future changes too.
Step 4: Design And Database
The SaaS design stage should result in creating several documents vital for the project, such as software architecture documents, style guides, and possible project prototypes. Other important choices here are choosing the SaaS programming language, development platform, and the application’s hosting architecture, where you can go for a single- or multi-tenant approach.
For bigger clients it would be wiser to use a single-tenant architecture, when each client gets their server, to save resources, while the multi-tenant approach will provide multiple users with access to a database through different access points.
When choosing the multi-tenant SaaS architecture design, you also need to define the way your app will work with databases. “One application instance, one database” is easier to do, but it has certain scalability constraints, therefore negatively affecting user experience. “One instance, several databases” provides much smoother scaling, but costs significantly more. The final choice should be substantiated on your budget and customer requirements.
Step 5: Testing
To successfully build a SaaS product, you need to test your early prototypes intensively. Two goals here: to make sure you satisfy all the requirements you and your clients set for the project before it is released, and to minimize the number of bugs from the start. Manual and automated testing should complement each other during this stage to fully cover the application.
Step 6: Managing And Monitoring
Developers should be coding and testing, and nothing else, and managers should guide them through the process, not getting bogged down in its tiny details. The better you manage to organize such cooperation, the faster the development process will go.
Step 7: Promotion
You’ve already defined your marketing strategy during step 2, now is the time to bring it to life. Get in touch with social media influencers and advertising agencies and get your audience to know about your product.
Step 8: Release And Maintenance
Meeting deadlines is important in SaaS app development, but the most crucial part is keeping the continuous support of your product and monitoring how it performs. The first few weeks and even days after the release can sometimes define the future of your product, because in the online era information is getting around quickly and the trust lost to failed promises is hard to recover.
Choosing to develop a SaaS application is both wise and risky: wise because the market is booming, and the potential profits are really good, risky, because of the highly competitive environment. That is why such a project needs to be well thought out and planned in detail.
We hope that our article helped you get a better understanding of how to build a SaaS application from scratch and you’re now ready to get your dream project started.