Software as a service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model. It is especially suitable for process automation, through SaaS BPM and SaaS Workflow Suites, reducing its complexity and costs.
In this model, the process automation software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” (source).
In this post, we will explore the main characteristics of the model and how SaaS BPM Suites like Flokzu take advantage of it.
The focus of a SaaS BPM and SaaS Workflow is that customers can focus on their business processes and how to improve them. All the infraestructure is a “managed-service”. Low-code and no-code attributes are key to accelerate process delivery.
SaaS BPM distribution
SaaS BPM Suites vendors usually don’t distribute the solution physically or manually. Deployment is almost instantaneous and automatic. You don’t need to install and set up anything on your own servers.
But the most important point is that the processes are easily automated. The traditional BPM and Workflow suites required many hours of consultancy to configure the forms and processes. They also generally required programming skills for forms, controls, and conditions. These tasks were performed by external consultants or personnel specialized in a particular tool, so it became a cost of distributing the solution.
In sum, you probably won’t need traditional partners and middlemen for a cloud BPM or cloud Workflow Suite and distribution will be immediate.
SaaS Workflow Pricing.
Traditional BPM and Workflow Suites were conventionally sold as a perpetual license with an up-front cost and an optional ongoing support fee. On the other hand, SaaS BPM suites offer a subscription fee, on a monthly or annual fee. Consequently, the initial setup cost for SaaS is much lower than an equivalent on-premise BPM Suite.
The SaaS BPM fee usually includes everything you need to automate your processes: the license to use the software, technical support, storage, infrastructure operation, etc.
SaaS BPM providers typically price their applications based on some usage parameters, such as the number of users (most typical).
In Flokzu, we also offer a model based on the number of process instances created each month. This model is more applicable to processes that have potentially many users, but that they will rarely use. A typical example is a license request process, where all employees can use it, but only a couple of times a year. (Available Service Plans)
The nicest is the multitenant architecture. In this scheme, every customer uses the same single version of the SaaS BPM Suite. And it runs in a single infrastructure (hardware, network, operating system).
Installing the SaaS Workflow Suite on farms of multiple machines (called horizontal scaling) allows scalability. The load balancer directs the users to one or another server. This configuration also helps to improve fault tolerance if one machine crashes.
Although not all SaaS BPM Suites share these characteristics, most market leaders do (Top cloud BPM Tools comparison).
Process configuration and customization
Business processes are particular to each organization. Thus, a SaaS BPM Suite allows a very high degree of customization. You can define the workflows, with their stages, conditions, and actions. Then, you can set up the forms to store the relevant data of each process. It is also possible to define the entire organizational structure (users, roles, permissions). And of course, define KPI’s to measure how the processes are working.
The typical update frequency for a SaaS Workflow Suites is weekly or monthly, much more than traditional on-premise BPM Suites. The application runs on a central host. Consequently, every update is decided and executed by the provider, and customers simply use the latest version. Of course, the BPM Suite vendor must assure compatibility with the processes already deployed by the customer.
Besides this, given the application only has a single configuration, development and testing are faster. The application vendor does not have to maintain older versions of the BPM Suite.
Integrating a saas workflow with other systems
Given SaaS BPM Suites usually cannot access a company’s internal systems, they offer standard integration protocols and tools.
For example, Flokzu supports Web Services and Webhooks to interchange data between systems at a technical level. And it also supports Zapier, to interact with other web applications at a non-technical level.
SaaS BPM adoption and challenges
The adoption of SaaS BPM and SaaS Workflow Suites has been amazing and it increases every year. Several researchers (for example MarketWatch) note that the market size for this kind of solution will keep on growing to several billion in the next years.
On the other hand, there are a few challenges to overcome. SaaS BPM suites are made to be massive, so the vendor will not have direct contact with the customer to help to automate their processes. In this context, BPM and Workflow tools must provide great documented and a friendly interface, to allow this independence. Currently, not all SaaS BPM Suites are so friendly. Just a few of the top Cloud BPM Suites are at this level (this is a key objective for Flokzu).
Security and Privacy are and will be, a key aspect to consider, given companies and putting their muscles and memories on the cloud. By muscles, I mean their core business processes, and by memories, I mean their relevant data involved in those processes. Most BPM vendors offer strong NDA and policies to protect this data.
SaaS BPM and SaaS Workflow suites have had explosive growth in recent years, as they greatly facilitate access to these technologies. They reduce time and complexity to the minimum level for business processes automation. Subscription-based pricing models eliminate up-front payments, making it easier to test the tools.
In this context, our recommendation is to take advantage of these features and perform a (free) test of the products. In a period of two weeks, you will be able to evaluate whether it meets the needs of your organization.
If you prefer, just schedule here a 30 minutes session and see how to model one of your business processes in a real SaaS BPM Suite.