Written by Doug Austin, Editor of eDiscovery Today
The move to the cloud is well documented and has been happening for years – remote work necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated it. .
Today, we use cloud-based solutions for everything from office productivity (e.g., M365, G-Suite) to customer relationship management (Salesforce) to billing (Square, Bill.com) to email marketing (Mailchimp) and human resources (Paycor, SentricHR).
And we certainly use them for information governance and electronic discovery.
Another term for cloud-based solutions is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). This term isn’t as commonly used, but it’s important to know to fully understand what you get with cloud-based solutions. Most people focus on the first “S” (software), but the second “S” (service) is just as important as the first, if not even more important.
Services Associated with SaaS Solutions
There are several services associated with SaaS solutions that can make or break your ability to have a good experience with that solution. Here are some of them:
Management and Infrastructure
Two of the biggest benefits of cloud-based SaaS solutions are: 1) You don’t have to install the software (or updates to the software) and 2) You don’t have to set up the server environment and infrastructure to support the software solution. A SaaS provider does all of that for you, and more.
There’s more to management of a SaaS solution than you might think – it includes management of the networking environment, storage, servers, virtualization (to distribute services without having to add more hardware), the operating system, middleware (software between the operating system and the applications), runtime (including development, testing and production environments), customer data and the applications themselves. That’s a lot to manage and it can be costly in terms of physical space, equipment, software, and personnel – which is a big reason why so many organizations today (even large organizations) have chosen SaaS solutions over on-premise solutions.
Product Development and Enhancement
Software development doesn’t just require developers, it requires several other people involved in the development of features and capabilities, including product managers to manage feature requests and flush out requirements for new feature development/enhancement and QC testers to find “bugs” in the software to be corrected by the developers and certify it ready for use in production by customers.
Documentation and Training
With every software release, documentation needs to be updated to reflect the software’s current capabilities and to provide release notes regarding what’s new. And no matter how easy to use the software may be, a SaaS provider needs to provide training services to enable its customers to get the most out of the software.
SaaS providers also have a software support team ready to support customers with their software issues, which can range from assistance on how to use a capability of the product to identification of a “bug” in the software, which can then be addressed by the development team and tested by the QC team. A big advantage of SaaS solutions is that fixes to critical software bugs can be deployed immediately – no need to wait for the next release!
Finally, many SaaS providers often provide additional professional services that tie into their software products. This is especially true in eDiscovery solutions, where services that encompass the entire EDRM lifecycle – from collection to searching assistance to managed review to production assistance and even project management – are available.
Two Recommendations for Getting the Most Out of Your SaaS Solution
To get the most out of your experience with the SaaS solution, here are two things you need to do:
Pay Attention During the Training
We have so many distractions these days, especially when working remotely, it’s sometimes easy to get distracted during training sessions doing things like checking your mobile device, responding to emails, etc. When you’re in a training session, it’s important to put distractions aside and focus on the software training, asking questions when you don’t understand something.
Years ago, I covered a case where an associate representing a major financial institution inadvertently produced sensitive data for thousands of the client’s wealthiest portfolio owners. Even worse, that inadvertent disclosure was covered by The New York Times! In her declaration to the court, the associate acknowledged that she only reviewed the first thousand documents in the potential production set because she thought that was the extent of the collection – she didn’t even realize she needed to check out another batch to keep reviewing. Examples like this illustrate the importance of paying attention during the training.
Speak Up When There is an Issue
SaaS providers want to hear from you when you’re having issues with the software, whether that involves potential software “bugs”, confusion on how to use certain features, or even concern over lack of certain features in the product. They won’t know unless you tell them where they need to focus to make the product more robust and reliable and less confusing, so speak up and contact support when you have an issue. That’s what they’re there for.
People focus on the first “S” in cloud-based SaaS solutions, but the second “S” is what can make or break your experience with the software. To get the most out of the software, take full advantage of the services that your SaaS solution provider offers.
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