Benefits of SaaS (Software as a Service) for Transportation Management
In the old way of thinking, companies were used to buying, building, and maintaining their IT infrastructures despite exponential costs. SaaS gives companies an alternative to those headaches. Now, a company can plug in and subscribe to services built on shared infrastructure via the Internet. The SaaS model has gained popularity in recent years because of the many benefits it offers to businesses of all sizes and types, but it also begs several questions and considerations to be thought of as well.
The main benefits that are attracting businesses customers to take advantage of SaaS solutions for Transportation Management:
Higher Adoption Rates: SaaS applications are easily accessible from any computer or any device—anytime, anywhere. Because most people are familiar with using the Internet to find what they need, SaaS apps tend to have high adoption rates, with a lower learning curve.
Lower Initial Costs and Easier IT Implementation: SaaS applications are typically subscription based. No license fees mean lower initial costs. Having the SaaS provider manage the IT infrastructure means lower IT costs for hardware, software, and the people needed to manage it all.
Automatic Upgrades: Because the SaaS provider manages all updates and upgrades, there are no patches for customers to download or install. The SaaS provider also manages availability, so there’s no need for customers to add hardware, software, or bandwidth as the user base grows.
Seamless Integration: SaaS vendors with true multitenant architectures can scale indefinitely to meet customer demand. Many SaaS providers also offer customization capabilities to meet specific needs. Plus, many provide APIs that let you integrate with existing ERP systems or other business productivity systems.
Items to think about when considering a SaaS solution:
Data Security is more than just user privileges and password policies. It’s a multidimensional business imperative, especially for vendors responsible for customer data. Make sure any provider you’re considering has solid policies and procedures in place to guarantee the highest possible levels of security. Carrier and order fulfillment services contracts need to be kept safe.
With on-demand applications, customers rely on their providers to keep systems and data available. You need to trust your SaaS provider to meet your business requirements, so expect them to communicate with you as a partner in your business. You need to have access to your transportation data and systems from anywhere.
Scalability is important. With any utility, customers benefit from the scale of the supplier. Scale provides a larger customer community that can deliver more and higher-quality feedback to the vendor to drive future innovation. And a larger customer community provides rich opportunities for collaboration between customers. Make sure the vendors you’re evaluating provide:
Any vendor providing on-demand services should be professionally paranoid, considering every potential disaster, and being prepared for anything.
Data backup procedures should create multiple backup copies of customers’ data in near real time at the disk level. The strategy should include a multilevel backup strategy that includes disk-to-disk-to-tape data backup where tape backups serve as a secondary level of backup, not as their primary disaster recovery data source. Failover should cascade from server to server and from data center to data center in the event of a regional disaster, such as a hurricane or flood.
Any provider offering SaaS applications needs to be able to deliver very high availability. A detailed history should be available. Vendors should provide availability data on the entire service, not just on individual servers.
Kenneth Kowal is a logistics professional with over 15 years supply chain management experience. He has founded two companies: TMS logistics solution provider and startup ecommerce order fulfillment company FillShip.com.