When you’re running a digital business, such things as product inefficiency, poor security, awful user experience, and outdated business model become your worst enemies. To fight against them and finally break free, opting for the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model might be a wise thing to do. In fact, Startupbonsai reports that SaaS makes businesses grow 10 times faster, while 75% of entrepreneurs believe that SaaS gives their business extra agility.
But where should you start and how to create a flawless SaaS solution? SaaS development is a long and tricky journey. That’s why the JatApp team is here to walk you through the SaaS development process and explain how we approach it to liberate businesses from slavery of legacy business models.
Software development process: definition in the SaaS context
Before we talk about SaaS development, let’s define what software development process in general is. Software development process means separating software development into individual parallel or sequential steps to deliver a quality software product that meets business and tech requirements. The software development process is often called software development life cycle (SDLC), too.
The SaaS development process is very similar to a traditional SDLC, but you should be aware of multiple technologies and novelties that are typical of SaaS development. The list includes, but is not limited to the following:
- Multi-tenant architecture. This is one of the main peculiarities of SaaS. When a user interacts with a traditional software, they get an access to an individually created database provided with a single-tenant architecture. As for SaaS, users access a commonly shared database stored in the cloud.
- Cloud servers. Users don’t install SaaS on their computers because they just access it through a web browser. The entire software is stored in the cloud server, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure.
- User interface/user experience (UI/UX) centricity. We have enough technologies to build high-quality software, which is why the time for advancing user experiences has come as well. You still can build a SaaS application with a terrible UI/UX design, but such an approach to user experience will pay off only in some parallel universe where people McDonald’s is known for its delicious salads.
- Application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs are necessary not only for connecting back and front ends, but also for integrating other services into your SaaS. Google Maps integrated into the Uber app serves as a good example.
- The Agile methodology. In fact, software development companies used the Agile methodology long before SaaS gained traction, but this SDLC model has become popular with SaaS development because it divides delivery of the product into separate independent sprints. This approach enables businesses to release their minimum viable product (MVP) and see whether it meets the target audience’s expectations. As a result, startups avoid dumping tons of time and money into software development upfront.
- Development and Operations (DevOps) principles. Oh well, that’s the most interesting thing. DevOps is the entire philosophy of software development and delivery, which you can see in almost any SaaS solution. Beyond a doubt, there should be a separate article about DevOps to cover every single detail, so we’ll stick to the most crucial part. DevOps philosophy promotes two main principles that are inherent to SaaS. The first one is continuous integration (CI), which means that a newly written software code merges with the old one in the central repository. This approach makes release of separate features possible. The second major DevOps principle is a continuous delivery (CD) that promotes automation of software code update, debugging, and any other changes for making the product’s version release possible at any moment. These two principles make SaaS market delivery and continuous scaling much easier in comparison with a legacy software development process.
This list may make you shun from building your own SaaS solution as your company may lack relatable tech expertise. But it’s not a reason to refrain from developing SaaS and keep doing business the old way, as you can simply outsource any tech talent if you lack one and save up much time and resources.
How JatApp liberates businesses from the pain of legacy systems
Now that you know what SaaS development process is, we can show you how JatApp approaches it and what major steps you should make to build a quality SaaS software product.
We’ll use our case study devoted to facility management platform development as an example, as it is a remarkable SaaS project worth discussing. We have been cooperating with this client for almost three years, which is why we have a lot of insights to share.
Prepare yourself, the journey is long, but you’ll definitely learn about the power of SaaS development by the end! Let’s discuss every step within our SaaS product development process.
This is the primary stage of the SaaS development process, at which we identify the requirements to your future product. You need to be as specific as possible, but it’s fine if you have just an idea of your SaaS solution. We can help you elaborate upon your idea and propose the best way of bringing it to life. Here’s what we do during the initiation phase:
- Requirements analysis. We need to discuss with you the project’s goals, timeline, budget, and any expectations you have about your future software product.
- Estimations. Our software developers estimate the time they need to develop your SaaS solution. We also add 40% of the estimated time and money as the backup in case any risks emerge.
- Discovery. To understand what solution is best according to your requirements, our team performs a business analysis and deep market research to come up with the concept of your product’s MVP and future versions of your SaaS. We also encourage you to express your own ideas and expectations. The Agile methodology and DevOps principles come into play here. While we were working on the release of our client’s solution, they made a list of features and “wants” for the next release. Our project managers converted this list into a new project scope with detailed technical specifications.
That is the most important phase of SaaS development. If you don’t plan your project in advance, it’s likely to never end. In the pursuit of perfection, your budget will only keep ballooning, while the project will always be far away from complete. To avoid such a disaster, we carefully plan the entire project by taking such steps as:
- SaaS business and technical specifications. The JatApp team documents all requirements related to the business as well as tech sides of your product. Again, you can provide your own business and even technical requirements, while our business analysts will offer you the best ways to meet them. In the case of the client’s facility management platform, the customer company provides us with their business requirements specifications while the JatApp team is responsible for the technical part.
- Roadmap development. As soon as all specifications are written and confirmed, we create the project roadmap that shows the sequence of releases, timeline, budget, and other details important to your SaaS timely delivery. At this point, you just need to confirm whether you think the proposed roadmap is fine, so we could start working on your solution.
- UX prototype. Before writing a code, we involve our designers to create a clickable prototype that shows all screens, buttons, and features of your future SaaS solution. The prototype is designed according to business and tech specifications, but you should remember that it’s just a guinea pig to show you. That is why we expect you to leave feedback before our SaaS developers start coding.
- UI design. User interface is equally important, and we present it together with the UX prototype. Colors, fonts, the size of clickable areas, and so on — you need to inform us whether you like all these things. If you don’t, you have to tell us what you would like to see in your SaaS solution instead.
- Architecture design. Any software has a structure, and SaaS is no exception, which means that we need to plan it before the development starts. As any SaaS is a continuously scalable product, for our client’s facility management platform we use microservice architecture in order to add new features without affecting the current version’s performance. Each service is stored in an individual “container”. If something goes wrong with one service, the rest of the SaaS keeps working well.
Since SaaS development follows the DevOps principle of a continuous delivery, this phase is repeatable. You can generate new ideas for your SaaS on the go while we’ll always help you to select the best direction for scaling your product. The delivery process involves a number of actions:
- Rolling out development, testing, and production environments. Our DevOps engineers prepare separate environments for coding, quality assurance, and releasing your product.
- Coding. The most essential part of our SaaS product development process looks very simple. JatApp’s SaaS developers write the code for back and front ends and work with the database setup.
- Code review. Our software developers look through the code once again and make corrections if necessary before submitting it to the testing environment, where quality assurance engineers will do their job.
- Quality assurance and testing. As soon as the code for the release is written, our quality assurance (QA) engineers run a variety of manual and automated tests to check whether the code works properly and no bugs are present. If any errors are found, our QA engineers fix them. When the error is way too complex, the QA team sends the code back to the SaaS developers with a request to rewrite it. This process continues until the product’s version doesn’t contain any bugs. We let our clients run tests on their side before the release to ensure the new product’s version is ready for deployment.
- Deployment. This is the magic moment when
two hearts are caringyour product is transitioned to the cloud server, and your customer can actually use it. You have to inform us whether everything works as it should, and when there’s a problem to fix, we’ll take an immediate action.
From our experience, SaaS companies seldom stop scaling their products and close their projects, while ongoing support of the product is common. The majority of SaaS startups are flexible enough to adjust to new business environments, which means that the development process literally never stops. For example, the facility management platform company is still working with us on their new releases as the company plans to grow and penetrate new areas of the facility management industry.
Now, how can you start working together with JatApp? There are several ways.
Our engagement models
Our company offers you three engagement models: team extension, dedicated development team, and project outsourcing.
Team extension means that you already have a tech team, but you need more tech talent, so you augment your team with our professionals. You will be able to manage them as if they are your in-house employees.
Dedicated development team is a tech team fully assembled according to your custom SaaS development requirements. You’ll have the whole control over the process, which means that project management issues will be handled by your company.
If you don’t have any tech team and project managers, you can totally rely on JatApp by engaging with us through a project outsourcing model. The facility management platform company we talked about does not have any expertise in software development, which is why they fully outsourced their SaaS project to us. The company’s representatives just set the direction for the next release and check the result while all management and tech work is done by the JatApp team.
Your battle has only begun
We’ve talked a lot about the SaaS development process today. However, your battle for the success of your product has only begun. Since SaaS development doesn’t follow legacy SDLC models, there is one more journey you should go for: SaaS product development lifecycle.
JatApp is ready to help you under any circumstances because we’ve successfully delivered more than 200 projects for various businesses. Our company is in the list of the top 100 Ukrainian PHP Laravel development companies and the top 50 Ukrainian mobile developers, so 99% of our customers leave positive feedback about the quality of work we delivered to them.
Start overcoming your SaaS development challenges by contacting us. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.