Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Top 10 SaaS Applications for SaaS Companies (Part 2)

OK, so the astute among you will notice that Part 2 has a slightly different title than Part 1.  So I have to plead guilty, I couldn't think of 5 more generic SaaS applications (to make 10) that I would recommend to all businesses, so I had to become more specific in my selection, and choose applications that I would recommend to other SaaS companies.

Microsoft BPOS to Office 365 Update

But before we get to those 5 applications, I need to refresh the original list.  Microsoft BPOS is no longer, and has been replaced by the even better Office 365.  Office 365 updates Exchange and SharePoint to the 2010 versions, replaces Office Communicator 2007 with Lync 2010 and also adds the Office Web Application suite which allows you to view and edit Office 365 documents from a web browser if the native applications are not installed.  Plans range from $5 to $24/month, with the $24/month plan including Office 2010 Professional Plus desktop software for up to 5 devices per user.  Honestly small to mid-sized business still hosting their own Exchange and SharePoint Servers need to seriously re-evaluate that strategy.  I strongly suggest you learn more!

The Top 5 (#6-10) SaaS Applications for SaaS Companies

So here is my top 5, following on from the prior blog article, this article represents #6 through #10, it sounds complicated and probably confusing so I promise not to split my blog posts in two again and seperate tham by 7 months of gestation in future.

You have probably seen this nifty service powering the Feedback button that shows up on the left or right side of many applications.  For SaaS companies UserVoice is a great way to capture product feedback and ideas.  It also allows other users to vote on their favorite ideas taking away one of the hardest aspects of product management, feature ranking.  But it does more, starting a just $25/month you can combine Feedback and HelpDesk and create a self service support portal with a Knowledge Base and Ticket entry.  More expensive plans add Domain Aliasing, full CSS customization, and much more.

Most well run SaaS companies invest in internal monitoring software that checks CPU usage, hard disk usage, bandwidth usage, etc.  But don't forget to monitor your site from your customers perspective!  That's what this inexpensive service from Zoho called Site24x7 does.  You can monitor website performance, email performance, and DNS performance, from a single or multiple geographic locations, and get real-time alerts when they are down.  Easy to run reports that let you measure uptime and performance allow you to satisfy your curiosity about achieving 99.999% uptime.  The free version will monitor 2 sites at 60 min intervals from one location, but the pricing for the Enterprise and Professional versions remains very reasonable.

Let's face it if you're a Microsoft shop you would love to probably use Team Foundation Server 2010, and maybe as a BizSpark subscriber you have essentially "free" licenses.  But who wants the hassle of maintaining a Server and Administering the damn thing, especially if your team works virtually.  A good low cost hosted alternative is Unfuddle.  Unfuddle provides unlimited hosted Subversion or Git repositories with a total of 200MB of repository storage for FREE!  Pricing plans then start at $9/month and go up if you want SSL access and time tracking. Yes, you'll need a Subversion client for Visual Studio, we use the excellent VisualSVN which is just $49/User.  But wait there's more, Unfuddle is also a great bug tracking tool, assuming you can actually get people to enter bugs, rather than just email them to you.

OK, this next one is totally free, but totally worth it.  I think the entire universe has now heard of Hubspot ,their high profile CTO Dharmesh Shah, and his great Blog OnStartups.  Now I have to admit I think for most startups the Hubspot product offering is too expensive, but they also offer a free tool that will give some great feedback about your online marketing presence. It's Marketing Grader I'm going to highly recommend you give it a spin.

 Here's the last one.  The defacto industry standard for Screen capture and editing software is without a doubt Camtasia.  But in the spirit of finding SaaS equivalents, and the endless number of times in prior blog posts I have urged statups to preserve cash here is a totally free alternative.  The brilliantly named Screen-Cast-O-Matic.  The only negative, it does require you have the Java runtime installed, but otherwise for a quick and simple screen recorder that creates AVI, FLV or MP4 files of up to 15 minutes in length and allows you to publish to YouTube it's great.  Just $12/year gets you the full version and is well worth it compared to $299 for Camtasia.

That's a wrap. As always if you have your own suggestions don't be afraid to leave a comment, or shoot me a Twitter message @kjtreier.

1 comment:

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