Some public library software is available as Software as a Service applications, also called SaaS. This type of program uses cloud technology to bring many benefits to your library’s infrastructure. Many common barriers to adopting and implementing new systems are decreased or eliminated with SaaS. You can stay up to date with the latest innovations, streamline your administrative processes and provide a better patron experience. Here are the primary reasons SaaS is important for your public library IT plans.
Reduce Software Costs
You don’t have to pay for expensive application servers or specialty equipment when you use a SaaS option. The vendor takes on all the upfront expenses. You access the system from compatible Internet-connected devices already available at your library. Typically, you pay a monthly or annual fee to access the platform. Your payment adjusts based on your usage, which further helps with cost efficiency.
Many SaaS library applications have user-friendly designs that help you get up and running quickly. Extensive resources provide more information if you run into any problems, and many SaaS vendors have customer service teams that proactively check-in to see if you are getting the value out of the software.
Modern user experiences draw upon the high expectations set by other industries, so you move away from systems with high learning curves. You can get everyone set up without dedicating too much time to training.
SaaS vendors want to keep you around as a subscriber, so they invest in ongoing feature development based on user feedback. You get more value out of the software over time, as opposed to purchasing a legacy application and having to upgrade to new versions to get access to the latest changes.
You have better uses for your IT resources than spending them on software updates. Since SaaS vendors host the applications themselves, you don’t have to even think about any updates. You get a seamless experience whenever they add something new to the program. All you need to do is read about any new features, so you stay up to speed.
Vendor Provided Maintenance and Support
Another way SaaS reduces your IT requirements is by handling maintenance and support on their end. The vendors monitor all the hardware and software, troubleshoot and fix any issues, take your support tickets and provide dozens of other essential IT duties relating to the application. You don’t have to wait for an overworked technician to find time away from help desk support to fix major bugs or go without a system while the troubleshooting process occurs.
Legacy systems often place everything on-site. Your applications, data and hardware exist in the same physical location, so a disaster that takes out one component could wipe them all out. If you have any backups, they may suffer the same fate as the rest of the on-site equipment or be too out of date to be useful.
Most SaaS vendors have measures in place to get your library systems back up and running quickly in the event of an emergency. Your data is distributed in redundant data centers, they have extensive equipment to handle any problems at their location, and they should provide Service Level Agreements, or SLAs, which guarantee your critical applications get restored within a specific time-frame.
Cyber crime continues to climb, and public libraries often lack the IT security resources to stop hackers and abuses of the system effectively. SaaS vendors’ entire business model depends on giving you access to a service without interruption or disruption. They deploy enterprise-level security systems designed to stay on top of the latest threats and keep attackers from accessing sensitive data and other systems. While no security measure is 100 percent effective, SaaS applications often represents a significant upgrade to your existing infrastructure.
You have access to many interesting data sets as a library alongside more typical metrics, such as your back office productivity and expense reports. In legacy systems, each application typically worked with its own database, and moving information between two pieces of software required slow imports or manual data entry.
Many SaaS vendors build in third-party integration or offer an application programming interface which lets you create your own integration with the help of a software developer. Both of these options eliminate the need to deal with cumbersome data transfer techniques. Instead, you can pull the information into the supported third-party systems or work off of a centralized database.
By bringing your data together, you have the potential to gain new insights into your public library administrative operations or learn about the breakdown of popular books versus various age ranges. This interconnectivity is excellent when you want to increase efficiency, identify new opportunities and gain hard data for decision making.
Many types of new technology can have a transformative effect on your public library. Legacy software’s problems kept you away from adopting new solutions, as they often brought lengthy deployment and extensive IT needs along with them. SaaS helps you bring modern systems into your library without a lot of frustration. The flexibility, ease of use and lower direct and indirect costs make it an excellent addition to your existing infrastructure.
Tiffany G. – Scripted.com