the sky floor

How to Use This Simple Test to Judge SaaS Vendors

January 31, 2023

Choosing a new software can feel like being lost in a maze – you can turn left, right, or continue straight, but only one direction is likely to lead to the outcome you are looking for. You have choices to make, and research seems to be limited to marketing pages that make each product sound like it will change your entire existence for the better.  

Let’s take a quick detour if you don’t know some of the 2023 jargon. What is a SaaS? It simply stands for software as a service. Essentially you pay an ongoing fee or subscription for access to a hosted piece of software. You won’t be buying a CD-ROM (that’s a joke), getting it in the mail, and installing it on your computer. With a SaaS, you log in to the software on their website or via their app. 

At The Sky Floor, we frequently have to choose software for our clients and us; here are some lessons we have learned to vet a SaaS. First, you should read every review you can get your hands on. Use sites like Capterra, G2, Trustpilot, and GetApp to weed out the conspicuous stragglers. These sites are founded on objective reviews, and between the mix of them, it should be pretty obvious who has a marketing page that is more wishful thinking than reality. You can also find competitors you have never heard of before to research on these sites. 

Once you have widdled your list down using the lowest-hanging rotten fruit, it’s time to use our simple test to get more in-depth information.

Beware, when you choose certain services, the time and cost to switch will be great. In other words, you will be locked in. The problem is some software is terrific today, but the competition will soon leave it behind. It can be challenging to decipher which provider will lead and innovate and which will coast on a large user base. Our test cannot guarantee success, but it will help you choose.  

The Simple Test

  • Read the changelog
  • Find or request a roadmap

A changelog records all the updates and modifications a software has undergone. When tweaks, enhancements, features, or upgrades are completed, they are typically published with version numbers to track the changes. When you are in the buying stage, you may have to ask for a copy of the changelog. Updates published in the last year should suffice. 

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What are you looking for? Evidence of frequent fixes and enhancements as well as larger feature rollouts. 

Many SaaS companies publish a feature roadmap to show how they will enhance their product. If you can’t find it, ask for it! You are looking for iterations that make it easier to use and show leadership and innovation in the domain the software serves. 

Between the two documents, you will see how active they have been and are hoping to be. Compare the providers against each other! Which business has a history of releasing updates? Is it the same as the ones with the robust roadmap? It may be a red flag if a company is cagey about sharing this information or if they don’t know if these two documents exist. 

By evaluating a company’s history of changes and plans for future features, you can gain confidence in the kind of product you are buying. You can vet the products against each other and weed out a business resting on its laurels – no matter how impressive that history is. Opt instead for companies that are iterating, looking ahead, and have a rich history of regularly updating their product!

You can use changelogs and road maps to test how serious a company is about its product and keeping customers on the leading edge.