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saasimageMany companies are turning to Software as a Service or Saas, or a similar hosted environment, this type of service. Saas is viewed as a low cost alternative to buying a custom software package there is more to it then just cost savings, which is what makes them appealing to non-profits.

Scott Molski, VP of Sales for The Positive Internet Co., agrees he points out that Saas offers much more then just a lower price tag. As he says Saas/Hosted Apps offer free "As in no cost and freedom." The non-profit doesn’t have to spend valuable resources on maintaining, tracking and updating software, Saas allows the non-profit to "keep the focus on the mission."

Freedom

First, Saas offers freedom. With Saas there is no vendor lock in, the non-profit is free to try software from different vendors and change to a different vendor, typically without long term contracts. Saas also allows them to have multiple programs from different vendors. Moreover, in the Saas environment, if the program doesn’t fit all the non-profit's needs, it is simple to switch to a different program that provides everything the non-profit needs.

Cost

Of course, non-profits always have an eye on the bottom line, and often non-profits find a free or low cost app that is perfect for their organization. Then explains, Scott they can work with the developer to customize it. While there is often a charge associated with this, it is often a per project basis, and much less than the cost of developing custom software from ground up. Yes, there are fees associated with a Saas, but since most software as a service plans are billed per month it allows the non-profit to budget accordingly.

Another advantage is that many software as a service providers offer different pricing depending on what level of service the non-profit wants. Plus, reminds Scott, because these costs are not capital expenses it doesn’t require amortization or deprecation.

Availability

Scott believes the best thing that Saas offers is “High Availability”. Since everything is off-site, the software is always available. If a staff member wants to work from home, they can. Or if the power goes out at the non-profit's office, the staff members can use a laptop at the local coffee shop to access the software.

In addition, the job of the Saas/Hosting company is to have the software working and available. They are constantly working behind the scenes to make sure the latest version of the software is available for the non-profit to use. If any technical problems arrise, they can be addressed quickly and efficiently and rarely result in any downtime for the non-profit.

And, there is the cost benefit of not having to employ a full time IT staff.

Security

The last and probably most appealing feature is the amount of security a Saas can offer. Nothing is on site, so the non-profit doesn’t have to worry about physical security issues like locking offices, installing firewalls, lost laptops and other security breaches.

Let’s not forget about backup. "You don’t realize how important back ups are," says Scott, "until your system crashes." It is the responsibility of the Saas provider to back up the non-profit's data.

Software as a service offers accessibility, flexibility, and great security all for an affordable monthly rate, making them perfect for budget conscious non-profits.

Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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