A question many of my clients wonder about is “should we get an on-demand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) SPM solution, or an on-premise solution.” The popularity of SaaS solutions and of traditionally on-premise solution being offered on-demand surged last year. I will discuss the pros and cons of each model in more details in a separate post; for now I will focus on one of the biggest concern to adopt SaaS.
Availability and Control. Let’s define availability as the “up time” of the SPM application. In other words, high availability means that an application will be continuously operational for a long period of time. If the application is not available, no one can access it. What is the impact of such “down time”? If the outage is “only” affecting the sales reps that can no longer access their performance for a few hours, availability may not be such an issue. If you are in the implementation process, it is clear that an outage would paralyze the implementation efforts for that time (let’s hope that it’s not during deployment!). In the worst case, the outage could happen around the time the incentive compensation needs to be processed and submitted to payroll (ouch!).
Technology is not perfect, and we can expect it to fail once in a while. But what makes many companies think twice about adopting a mission critical SaaS solution is that they lose control any potential issues and over how quickly they can get resolved.
Let’s look at a recent example outside of Incentive Compensation. Last Tuesday, the web was buzzing with news about Salesforce.com being down. A network device failed, and the redundant systems did not kick in for some reason. This stopped all data from being processed in Japan, Europe, and North America. Why is this a big deal? Because SalesForce.com is considered to be the leader of the pack in the SaaS market. If SalesForce.com can be down, availability issues can (and will) happen to any SaaS vendor, no matter how much they brag about redundant systems, fail safes, power generators and secured data centers… But going back to the SalesForce.com example, “service disruption affected all areas from 20.39 to 21.17 GMT on 6 January… or only 38 minutes without service.
Some people have questioned whether such incidents could harm the adoption of SaaS. I think, maybe… but not for Sales Performance Management. I think that SaaS applications and their availability will only keep improving. And I think that as the SPM SaaS applications mature, it will become more and more difficult for even the most technologically capable companies to have the availability of their on-premise application competing with the availability of the on-demand applications.
So do I think SaaS applications is a good solution for everybody? Probably not. Is it an option worth at least considering? I think so!