How Customization Allows You To Get The Most From Your SaaS

Dan Lahl

There’s no question that when it comes to scaling your business operations, software-as-a-service (SaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) are important options. Getting a robust architecture without having to build it from scratch enables your IT team to rapidly create and deploy solutions within the scope of your changing needs. In far too many instances, one of the most important benefits of these tools is often unmet: adapting them to fit your specific needs. In a recent Forrester study commissioned by SAP, “SaaS Gaps Drive The Need For Integrated Cloud Platforms,” only 12% of companies using SaaS applications said that their current application landscapes completely and cleanly meet business needs, which is clear evidence that companies aren’t getting the customizations in the services they use. Customizing applications to fit your needs can give you flexibility that’s essential in today’s marketplace.

Standardization vs. customization

In the early stages of SaaS development, standardization was thought to be fundamental to the SaaS business model as its cost advantage was due to a scalable, single-instance, multi-tenant design. But inevitably, customers require and request specific customizations that fit their own business needs.

It might seem like there’s an inherent conflict in this; it’s hard to reap the benefits of standardized, high-level, consistent design when you add multiple customizations that require granularity. But SaaS products often appear to fall short of their promise: The leading causes of SaaS churn include poor onboarding, products that underperform, and overselling. You need to understand how and if you can get the results you need from a particular tool, whether through standardized features or a more tailored approach.

Seamless flow is the goal

When implementing cloud-based SaaS, the end goal is to have it not only resolve the existing point of need, but to augment already-present solutions. It’s also important that it can enable new solutions rapidly and without lengthy downtime or conversion issues.

A robust SaaS platform enables you to integrate solutions in a way that appears seamless to your team. There should be no instances of, “You can’t get there from here, so here’s what you’re going to have to do…” when it comes to incorporating the SaaS into existing systems – the whole process and experience should be smooth and painless.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Few businesses will move to a SaaS product without some existing solution they already rely on for their business needs; you’ll already have invested time and financial resources into previously existing architecture, hardware, and software. In many cases, you may not be able to do a full conversion, where pre-existing contracts are involved and capital is already invested.

However, while you consider your current needs, potential SaaS solutions, and how both fit into any existing processes, it is also critical to think about future needs before purchasing. You won’t just need to scale current operations, you’ll also need to provide access to new tools and features as your business evolves. A customizable cloud development environment will allow you to quickly build the extensions needed, and it will be increasingly critical as legacy solutions age out and new requirements call for more agile solutions.

An agile, integrated PaaS with potential is a must

Evolving and adapting quickly as your priorities change requires a PaaS with simplicity and flexibility. The ability to seamlessly customize – connecting apps, systems, and business processes to your digital core as needed – will enable your end users to continue using services without disruptions or jarring changes. It should also give internal users the ability to quickly and easily extend new features to your existing cloud apps, such as SAP SuccessFactors or SAP Hybrid Cloud for Customer apps.

Your needs evolve constantly, and the best service solution is one that will account for your business’s needs today while giving you the agility to rapidly adjust in the future. Understanding how you can use customization to get the most from SaaS will leave you ideally positioned for that change.

Learn more about SAP HANA Cloud Platform, SAP’s PaaS solution. Listen to an on-demand recording featuring Randy Hefner of Forrester sharing his findings and Iddo Bakker of PostNL discussing how their integration challenges were solved using SAP HANA Cloud Platform, or an interview about its different integration capabilities.


Dan Lahl

About Dan Lahl

Dan Lahl is the Vice President of Product Marketing at SAP. He has 30+ years of experience in high tech, with extensive experience in data management, data warehousing, analytics, and cloud.