In our last post, we discussed high level considerations for selecting a SaaS publishing system provider:
- Reliability and Uptime: What Service Level (SLA) can you expect, to be sure that your website is always up and available to your readers, with fast page-loads to engage visitors?
- Redundancy and Security: What is the cost of keeping your site secure and compliant?
- Baseline Affordability: Will a unified platform help you consolidate your baseline costs and start saving you money?
As part of our ongoing Buyers Guide for Publishing Systems, here’s the rest of the checklist you can use to compare systems and providers, to prepare for product demos, and to cover all the questions you’ll want to ask potential providers.
4) Speed to Market: To stay competitive, it’s imperative for your online business to be ninja-like. Are you stuck in a queue, waiting for IT resources to attract readers using mobile devices with Responsive Design, to make more money with a new feature, or enter a new market with a spin-off website?
Working with a SaaS system should give you a competitive advantage to identify and reach new markets quickly. Make sure the system you are considering can be rolled out and tested quickly, and includes integrations and updates that don’t break.
5) Automatic Updates: Ask about your prospective publishing system’s product development roadmap. Does it follow a regular schedule? Is it responsive to your market or generically applicable to all industries? Can you monitor the update process, and have input into the development priorities?
A good SaaS provider will establish software updates for your site that occur on a regular basis and a disciplined, process to meet the evolving needs of your customers, help you stay ahead of your competition, and most importantly, contribute to your bottom line. Your new site should not be out of date the day it launches; your SaaS updates should add ongoing value and “future-proof” your investment.
6) Support: In a recent post, our CTO, Trey Connell made the case for focusing on your core competencies. You may find great software, but its value is greatly diminished if there’s no one to help during deployment and especially after your new site launches. You’ll want to consider several factors, depending on your ability to provide ongoing support:
Will you have access to your design and development team?
Can you speak with someone who worked on your site, or is support outsourced to people who know nothing about your business?
Do you have access to top IT talent, who can present creative solutions to meet your needs AND budget?
Will you have support staff available when you need them – nights, weekends, holidays – to handle fixes or simply answer questions?
Your SaaS solution should include support, media industry expertise, and training so you can focus on your business and your customers.
7) Greater Functionality, More to Offer: Are you brainstorming more ways to engage your audience, gain more followers and increase traffic? Are you trying to diversify your revenue streams? Don’t let technology interfere with innovation.
SaaS software evolves quickly and unlike many homegrown and open source systems designed to simply deliver content to a web page, your EPS should support all aspects of your business:
Content: multiple content types and media
Commerce: products, offers, pricing, and secure transactions
Audience: behavior, preferences, account management, integrated with your Fulfillment system
Ads and Sponsorships: alternative revenue channels to build your bottom line
Social Media, Community: audience interaction and sharing to engage your audience
8) Plays Well With Others: Your SaaS EPS should be the center of a software ecosystem that adds value for your customers while providing actionable data to you and your advertisers. Integrations automate processes while increasing the value of data you capture on your site, through registrations, analytics and behavioral tracking. You should be able to align your content and sales tactics with audience behavior and preferences and respond quickly to new opportunities that contribute to your ROI.
9) Low Risk: SaaS applications and platforms are already built and tested. Ask prospective providers for examples of their work, especially those that have comparable business models and features. Share sites that you like with them. When you get up and running, updates will continue to add value and further reduce the risk of your investment.
Once you’ve worked through this checklist to create a short list of prospective solutions, you’ll be ready to bring in more stakeholders and request a demo. Stayed tuned for our guide to publishing system demos, coming soon.