Software as a Service (SaaS) offers customers a choice of how to purchase and consume business applications.  As pricing can be different from traditional software purchases, it is important to understand any nuances that may result in higher costs than anticipated.  Ask these questions to make sure you are getting what you expected:

  1. How much are the startup fees?
    • Some vendors can charge up to $100k just to turn on the service
       
  2. What other features are available and what do they cost?  Are future features automatically included in my subscription?
    • Make sure everything you need is included up front in your calculations – these costs can balloon in the long run.  Some vendors incent their sales teams to upsell editions later
       
  3. Much of my customer, order, and product data reside in ERP or legacy systems.  Are integration services included in my quote?  How much will it cost to customize and maintain integrations?
    • Simply turning on a SaaS CRM service can lead to more fragmented customer information.   Make sure your vendor is giving you a realistic proposal for a complete view of your customers
       
  4. Is a test or staging environment included?  How much extra is it per user?
    • Sandbox environments are often provided at additional cost that is calculated per user
       
  5. My salespeople are on the road.  Does mobile access cost more?
    • Mobile access can cost an additional 50% or more on top of fees quoted per user
       
  6. How much storage does my subscription include?  What does it cost if I go over?
    • Look for these and other usage limitations
       
  7. Do we get unlimited number of transactions?  If not, what are the fees?
    • Plan for growth
       
  8. How much will it cost to import, back-up or run additional reports on my data?
    • Provided reporting is often not enough – make sure you have free access to your data
       
  9. Where does my data physically reside – with the vendor, or a third party hosting company?  How do I get my data out, and are schemas provided to reassemble the information?
    • Customer data is one of the most valuable assets of any business- make sure you understand where your data is and how to get it.  Make sure your vendor satisfies your regulatory concerns for privacy, security and SOX compliance
       
  10. Will fees go up when my contract expires?  How high can they go, and is the vendor willing to cap them? 
    • Watch for lock-in and fee increases.  SaaS vendors need to achieve profitability too
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