Software as a Service (SaaS) in Higher Education: Achieving operational and financial benefits

By | July 10, 2022

While higher education has made tremendous strides in the way programs are delivered and student data is managed, many colleges continue to be plagued with challenges when it comes to hardware and software. Challenges include high upfront costs, ongoing maintenance costs and IT complexity, minimal adaptability to changing opportunities, and little to no integration across the enterprise.

In addition, colleges have invested in hardware and software that either sits idle due to lower than expected loads or is used only sporadically. On the other hand, they are not designed to carry unexpectedly larger loads than anticipated, leaving colleges caught between rock and rock.

The solution to these problems: Cloud Computing and in particular Software as a Service. Cloud computing uses shared hardware resources, software, and data storage that feed devices with information when needed. The “cloud” has created a virtual infrastructure that enables business applications as a service. Also known as Software as a Service (SaaS), these applications offer tremendous potential for higher education.

What is SaaS?

SaaS is a software distribution model where applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over the Internet or in the “cloud”. These applications are licensed to customers for use in the “cloud” as a service on demand, and customers only pay for what they use.

There is a significant difference between traditional application hosting and true SaaS applications. Hosting traditional software applications simply changes who manages the IT behind the delivery of the application. Hosting providers typically support more hardware and software versions and are unable to quickly increase capacity as user demand grows.

In order to take advantage of the new data center technologies, the application must really be designed for SaaS delivery. Hosting does not address the fundamental limitations of traditional enterprise applications or the old economical and expensive model that is inherent.

Because SaaS provides a single version of the software, vendors can quickly develop and introduce new features without worrying about supporting multiple “flavors” of their product. Vendors can produce and support their software at a lower cost, which is then passed on to customers, creating greater value than traditional models.

What does SaaS mean for universities?

With SaaS, colleges don’t have the cost and hassle of buying, installing, and storing their own hardware and software. Because the application is securely delivered as a service to the business over the Internet, schools don’t have to maintain the application either. Better still, colleges are always automatically on the latest version, reducing costly and disruptive upgrade projects. Higher education institutions can also realize staff savings as they can shift focus away from software maintenance and servicing to instead focus on strategic decisions to improve the overall college student experience.

The main benefits of a SaaS model are both technology cost savings and increased hardware, software, maintenance and staffing efficiencies. But that’s not all – SaaS brings numerous other operational and financial benefits as well.

SaaS can improve a college’s institutional effectiveness and its student support because it offers high availability and allows a school to better manage growth and enter new markets quickly and easily. Additionally, SaaS, combined with open APIs, gives higher education institutions the ability to deeply integrate with other key educational and business applications, as well as easily integrate their own internally developed applications.

Not only can adopting a comprehensive SaaS solution save time, but higher education institutions can expect greater financial benefits. SaaS enables higher education institutions to reduce their IT expenses, reallocate savings to business improvements and increase their financial profitability. A SaaS solution often results in faster time-to-market and simplifies ongoing support, resulting in faster time-to-value and greater ROI. This lower cost and immediate impact ultimately leads to improvements in the bottom line within the school.

Is your college ready for SaaS?
Because SaaS allows schools to support more students without adding staff or infrastructure, a number of colleges are choosing to go this route. As higher education institutions consider their options for transitioning to a SaaS model, they should consider the following questions:

  • Are all key departments across campus represented in the decision-making process?
  • What information do we currently store on our servers that can be managed in a SaaS environment?
  • How scalable is the model when evaluating a SaaS provider?
  • What uptime does the SaaS provider offer from a reliability standpoint?
  • What is our implementation timeline and is all information backed up to ensure we remain competitive during the transition process?

Adopting a SaaS model as the architectural standard in a college or university can not only help the school overcome hardware and software challenges, but also put it on the path to better operational and financial results.

Thanks to Chris Chumley | #Software #Service #SaaS #Higher #Education #Achieving #operational #financial #benefits

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