How SaaS Has Helped Shape The Wellness Industry
When I started my career in software development, we built our software using a traditional software development life cycle called the waterfall model. The goal was to spend a third of our time gathering the requirements, a third of our time programming, and the final third performing quality assurance and implementation. Then the software product went into maintenance mode, providing abundant work for the junior programmers.
Depending on the project, the whole cycle took anywhere from many months to several years. I worked on one project that never made it into maintenance mode because we couldn't nail down the requirements. Granted, it was a nurse scheduling system, which is one of the world’s hardest problems to solve!
In fact, according to a Standish Group Report, 31.1% of projects are abandoned before they ever reach completion. Why? Either they become outdated before being delivered, they miss the mark for requirements (been there, done that) or they go so far over budget and take so much time that they became a ball and chain for a company and a black mark for its sponsors.
But a huge shift started to take place in the industry about 15 years ago with the advancement of software as a service (SaaS), which connects cloud-based users over the internet.SaaS transformed the software development industry. Salesforce, an American cloud-computing giant with a customer relationship management product, has helped to take SaaS mainstream.
Today, we’re at the next generation with platform as a service (PaaS), a category of cloud computing services that, as the name implies, provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run and manage applications.
For example, in the wellness industry where my business resides, companies had no choice but to build their supporting technology from scratch, costing time, resources and challenges for non-technical companies. Now, through SaaS platforms, the leading wellness providers are able to quickly create and deploy new wellness tools to their customers with very little risk and outlay.
One of the most challenging aspects of delivering a quality wellness program is employee engagement. Technology can help boost engagement, and SaaS elevates it one step further by allowing for more dynamic wellness programs. The SaaS advantage is that its developers design the software from the ground up to support large numbers of unique deployments compared to in-house systems, which are built for a specific time and purpose.
Thanks to SaaS and PaaS, the long, drawn-out development process has been largely banished for corporate IT teams. Today, a business is much more productive in helping to select and customize already existing software for its company’s needs. With many SaaS systems, the tech team only has to check its security credentials and give its nod of approval.
SaaS and PaaS give corporations the luxury of easily trying out new software because they are quick to implement, easy to tailor and require minimal upfront cost. The price model is perfect because it quite often shares the risk -- you only pay for what you use.
If you don’t like it, no problem -- find a new vendor and transfer quickly. A side benefit is that because the software is a vendor’s lifeblood, you will benefit from constantly having cutting-edge software.
Salesforce's model has had a tremendous impact on sales departments across a wide range of industries, from manufacturing and engineering, to retail and finance. It’s a lesson for other departments across various sectors, including the wellness industry. Instead of creating their own software to be competitive, wellness companies should focus on what they do best -- keeping people healthy and engaged --- and take advantage of the growing number of SaaS or PaaS platforms available on the market today.