Because SaaS products are, by definition, hosted remotely and often supported remotely as well, the role of IT in researching and evaluating options is growing increasingly unclear. Fund managers in the market for new fund management software–or any SaaS offering–will often send a member of their IT team out to evaluate the market and determine the best options. It’s easy to understand why since the team is looking for a technology solution, they send the director of technology. Often this research involves evaluating the platform from a purely technical perspective and IT might not expose the business users to their shortlist of potential solutions until the list has been whittled down significantly.
Conversely, we encounter a good number of fund managers who prefer to make a software decision without consulting with IT at all. The whole point of cloud-based software, after all, is to remove the technology from the premises so it often seems like there isn’t that much for a SaaS provider and an IT director to talk about.
But we find that the most effective evaluations and the most informed consumers are a result of an IT director and someone from the management team working together. The IT director still must be involved to evaluate the reliability of a SaaS platform in terms of security, uptime, and performance. IT might also evaluate the possibility of integrating a new solution with other systems already in use.
Then the fund manager can weigh in and judge each solution based on all other aspects of the products such as functionality, usability, the extent to which it matches existing processes, or even the industry knowledge of the support staff. Having this involvement from fund managers from early on is key.
Ultimately, researching SaaS solutions and being involved in the buying process can feel like a departure for the IT department. If it’s hosted remotely and doesn’t affect any existing systems, why should the IT department care? But the job of IT, especially as SaaS solutions gain more and more traction, is becoming less about racking servers and more about simply finding technology that makes the business work better.