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SaaS development guide – costs and build process for products and platforms explained

Updated on 19 February 2024

SaaS (Software as a Service) is a type of software delivery model that provides customers with access to applications over the internet. By utilising cloud infrastructure and web-based technologies, SaaS development helps businesses increase their productivity and efficiency while reducing IT costs and potential risks associated with traditional software deployment models.

 
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Video: Cost of app development explained

Developing a successful SaaS application requires careful planning, thoughtful design and expert implementation. Companies who want to take advantage of the benefits that SaaS offers must ensure that they choose the right development partner with experience in developing and deploying quality applications.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through all aspects of SaaS development—from how to choose the right development partner to the 15 steps for developing a successful SaaS application. We’ll cover the business benefits you can achieve by implementing a SaaS solution, as well as some of the common mistakes to avoid throughout the process. Finally, we’ll provide answers to some frequently asked questions about SaaS development.

Moorepay logo Cutting edge payroll software
  • Powerful and easy to use
  • HMRC & RTI compliant
  • Used by payroll pros
Pipedrive logo The CRM platform to grow your business
  • Great for entrepreneurs
  • Powerful data analytics
  • Manage sales and data
Wix logo Powerful web builder and advanced business tools
  • Great for startups
  • Powerful web page builder
  • E-commerce available
Planable logo Supercharged content planning
  • Great for marketing
  • Better than lists or sheets
  • Manage social media
Webador logo Create a new website in 10 minutes. Easy.
  • Launch your website fast
  • Powerful data intuitive
  • No coding skills needed

What is SaaS development?

SaaS development is the process of creating software applications that can be easily accessed and used by a wide range of users over the internet. It relies on cloud infrastructure and web-based technologies, enabling businesses to deliver their services more cost-effectively and securely than traditional software deployment models.

Examples of SaaS products and platforms

Examples of SaaS products and platforms include customer relationship management (CRM) tools, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, analytics software, and marketing software. These applications are hosted on the cloud, meaning they can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.

Business benefits of developing a SaaS application

Developing a successful SaaS application offers numerous business benefits, including:

  • Reduced IT costs – Since the software is hosted on the cloud, businesses don’t need to invest in expensive hardware or software infrastructure
  • Scalability – With SaaS applications, businesses can easily scale up or down their services as needed
  • Easier maintenance – Software updates, bug fixes, and security patches can all be handled without any disruption to the user experience
  • Increased collaboration – With cloud-based applications, users can access and share data in real time with colleagues located anywhere in the world

SaaS development process

How to develop a SaaS application

  1. Define the problem

    Before beginning any development process, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the problem you are trying to address

  2. Identify your target audience

    Knowing who you are building for is key in order to ensure that your SaaS application will meet their needs and expectations.

  3. Map out the user experience

    Understand how users will interact with your application and create a user journey map

  4. Design prototype

    Create a wireframe of your application to get an idea of how it will look and feel

  5. Test your prototype

    Once you have a working prototype, test it with real users to ensure that it meets their needs

  6. Choose a development platform

    Select the development platform or language that will be used to build your application

  7. Build backend components

    Develop the components necessary for managing data and user authentication

  8. Build Front End Components

    Create the user interface components required for providing an engaging experience for users, using a design system

  9. Assess Application Security

    Make sure your application is secure by implementing authentication mechanisms and encryption protocols

  10. Set up database

    Configure a database to store user data, application settings, and access logs

  11. Deploy the application

    Deploy your SaaS application to the cloud hosting provider of your choice

  12. Test the application

    Test your application to ensure that it performs as expected

  13. Monitor performance

    Use analytics tools to monitor the performance of your SaaS application

  14. Update and maintain

    Periodically update your application with bug fixes and new features, as well as perform maintenance tasks such as security patches and data backups

  15. Optimise performance

    Use performance optimisation techniques to ensure that your SaaS application remains fast and reliable

How to choose a SaaS development company

When selecting a SaaS development company, it’s important to look for a partner that has experience in developing cloud-based applications, as well as knowledge of the latest industry trends.

Ask to see samples of their previous work to get an idea of their capabilities and make sure they have a good understanding of all the steps involved in developing a successful SaaS application.

How much does SaaS development cost?

The cost of SaaS development varies depending on the complexity of the project, as well as the size and scope of the application. Generally speaking, the cost for developing a basic SaaS application can range from $20,000 to $50,000 (USD), although many projects can reach upwards of six figures.

Common mistakes to avoid

Not planning aheadDeveloping a successful SaaS application requires careful planning and research in order to ensure that the application meets user needs and expectations. It’s important to ensure that all the necessary features are considered and planned for prior to any development taking place.
Not budgeting correctlyFailing to accurately budget for a SaaS project can result in huge financial problems down the line. It’s essential that you work with your development team to ensure that all costs associated with developing your SaaS application are accurately accounted for at the start of any project.
Not testing sufficientlyIt’s essential that all aspects of a SaaS application are thoroughly tested prior to launch. This ensures that the application meets user requirements and performs as expected in a live environment. Without adequate testing, you could be in for a nasty surprise when your application is released.
Not valuing user feedbackUser feedback should be valued and listened to at every stage of development. Doing so will ensure that you are constantly improving the user experience and responding to customer requests in order to keep them satisfied.
Relying too much on automationWhile automation can help the development process, it should not be relied upon too heavily. Automation should only be used when necessary and with caution – too much automation can lead to errors in the code which will affect performance.
Failing to secure dataProviding a secure environment for users is paramount when developing a SaaS application. Failing to secure data can result in breaches of user privacy, which could have serious consequences for your business.
Not providing adequate supportProviding a good level of customer support is essential when developing a SaaS application. Without good support, users may become frustrated with the product and leave, resulting in revenue loss. It’s important to ensure that you have a good support team in place and are able to provide assistance to users as soon as any issues arise.
Ignoring scalabilityScalability is key when developing a SaaS application, as businesses need to be able to accommodate spikes in user demand without sacrificing performance. Failing to plan for scalability could lead to major issues in the future as demand for your product increases.
Problems and risks with SaaS development

FAQ for SaaS development

What is SaaS development?

SaaS (Software as a Service) development is the process of creating a software application that can be used by customers over the internet via an online platform or service. It offers users the convenience of being able to access applications from anywhere, at any time, without needing to install any software onto their own device. SaaS development is becoming increasingly popular, making it easier for businesses to develop products and platforms that are tailored to the specific needs of their customers.

What are some examples of SaaS products and platforms?

Examples of popular SaaS products and platforms include Office 365, Salesforce, Dropbox, Adobe Creative Cloud and Zoom.

How can I develop a SaaS application?

Developing a successful SaaS application requires a clear strategy and careful planning. It is important to consider your target audience, budget, and desired features before embarking on the development process. It is also crucial to research the existing market and look for potential competitors in order to make sure that your product can stand out from the crowd. The actual development process may involve building a user interface, integrating APIs, and setting up cloud hosting. If you are new to SaaS development, it may be best to seek advice from a professional software developer or agency who can help with the process.

What benefits does SaaS development offer?

The main benefit of SaaS development is that it can save businesses time and money. By creating an online subscription service, organisations can reduce the cost of installing and maintaining software on individual devices. SaaS applications are also easier to update which can ensure that customers always have access to the latest features without needing to purchase a new version of the product. Additionally, SaaS development allows businesses to reach a wider range of customers and quickly scale up their operations.

What factors should I consider when developing a SaaS product?

There are several factors to consider when developing a SaaS product, including your target audience, desired features and budget. It is also important to research the existing market in order to make sure that your product is different and will stand out from the competition. Additionally, it is essential to think about how you plan to monetise the application in order to generate revenue and ensure profitability. Finally, when developing a SaaS product, it is important to choose reliable hosting providers so that customers can access their applications without any interruptions.

What are the challenges of SaaS development?

Some of the main challenges associated with SaaS development include keeping customers engaged, meeting customer expectations and ensuring security. It is also important to make sure that your product is well-maintained and updated in order to remain competitive and attract new users. Finally, it can be difficult to strike the right balance between offering a user-friendly experience and protecting customer data.

What tools are used for SaaS development?

The most common tools used for SaaS development include cloud hosting solutions, web frameworks, databases and analytics platforms. Additionally, it is important to use other software development tools such as text editors, version control systems and debugging software. Finally, some development teams may also use artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning (ML) technologies to create more dynamic applications.

What is the difference between SaaS and PaaS?

The main difference between SaaS and PaaS is that SaaS products are fully developed applications that are ready for customers to use, whereas PaaS provides users with a platform and tools to develop their own applications. Additionally, SaaS is usually offered as a subscription service while PaaS can be purchased or leased on an ongoing basis. Finally, SaaS applications are generally easier to manage than PaaS as they only require minimal maintenance and regular software updates.

How do I maintain a SaaS product?

In order to maintain a SaaS product, it is important to ensure regular software updates and bug fixes as well as monitoring customer feedback. Additionally, it is essential to keep up with the latest advancements in technology in order to remain competitive and provide customers with an engaging experience. Finally, it can be beneficial to create an online community or forum where customers can discuss your product and provide valuable feedback.

How long does SaaS development usually take?

The duration of SaaS development depends on the complexity of the project, but typically takes between three to six months. This timeline can be reduced significantly by using existing frameworks and cloud hosting solutions. Additionally, it is important to factor in time for testing and bug fixing as this can add extra weeks or months to the development process.

How much does SaaS development cost?

The cost of SaaS development varies depending on the size and complexity of the project, but typically ranges between $10,000 to $100,000. This cost can be reduced by using existing frameworks and cloud hosting solutions as well as outsourcing some of the development tasks. Additionally, it is important to factor in additional costs such as maintenance and bug fixes in order to ensure scalability.

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