Is SaaS an enemy of the IT Manager?

The Internet is full of comments and blog entries that praise the benefits of SaaS, against in-premise. I have also done this (praising)! Of course, most people accept that in-premise has not reached its end (and first of all, Microsoft that preaches “S+S”, Software plus Service); but also most people see the benefits of SaaS…

OK, so why don’t “most people” embrace SaaS in an “absolute” way? By “people” I mean the in-house IT managers of the Enterprise-Buyer and by “absolute” I mean “right here, right now”. We ARE in the middle of a financial crisis and we MUST cut down on internal costs, NOW, right? Today, I shall explore the reasons why the IT Manager is still reluctant to embrace SaaS and also try to answer each one of his/hers concerns. So, what is the average (and forgive me for saying this) and not so SaaS-educated Manager thinking?

  • I will have no control on the critical business applications, like I do now. Wrong: You will still be the key player on designing user procedures and deciding on Change Requests. You will still be the one who gets input about the user requirements and outputs technical specs to your SaaS vendor. In one word, you will continue to have the same control on the app, as you used to have. The only difference is that you will not have control on the programming itself. Do you really care about that? If yes, then you should also have a look at the PaaS delivery model. But that’s another story…

  • I will have no control on the security issues. Wrong: Any serious SaaS supplier must be in a position to a) provide you with a solid security plan and b) adapt and adopt any special security guidelines that you might have. You might be charged extra for these services and implementation, but you would spend this extra money anyway, right? Let’s face it: Chances are that your new SaaS system is more secure than everything you’ve built before, in-premise. Everybody knows that in-house development often makes “discounts” on security issues…

  • My role will be downgraded. Wrong: You role is still important. In fact, you now have the opportunity to move to the next level: You can become a valuable player in the Enterprise business design, instead of holding yourself back with all that trivial technical issues. Because you already know all (or most) business functions of your Enterprise, you could be the all-around player in all management decisions. Everybody will have a better chance on focusing on the business objectives and most of all you.

  • My staff will be decreased. It is possible that this might happen, but not probable. Some roles might not be required in your Department organization, but chances are that none of your current job positions will be eliminated: You still need the LAN guy, you still need the tech guy to fix the printers, you still need some programmers for custom development, MS Access databases, ad-hoc reporting, to say the least. In case that the headcount actually does decrease, this will work for you and not against you. You will be the one that decreased the IT costs of the Enterprise and for that you are entitled to a big-fat bonus!
    Of course, we should never forget the human side: What shall become of the people that the Enterprise has laid-off? No problem, job positions are not lost with SaaS. They are just moved elsewhere: To the growing SaaS-vendor’s headcount, who is in constant need for new recruits, because YOU bought from him and helped him grow. It’s like the 70’s, when Computers first came in the Commercial businesses: Were job positions lost? A few. Were new job positions created? A lot more…

    The very essence of SaaS is about letting the Enterprise focus on its core business functions and not deal with trivial IT issues. At least in Greece, in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s we have seen destructible results from cases where the Enterprise perceived IT as a non-value-adding operation in the Organization and for that reason all IT issues were tackled in the wrong way: fast and cheap. The result was big costs (“cheap” just backfired!), high expectations and bad results. I would bet that this was also the case in other parts of the world…

    SaaS is coming to take a large number of problems off your shoulders and convert you from CIO (Chief Information Officer) to… CIO (Chief Innovation Officer)!
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