The truth about SaaS for recruiters: How to obtain the full benefit of a web timesheet solution Etz Timesheet Solutions Guide

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1 The truth about SaaS for recruiters: How to obtain the full benefit of a web timesheet solution Etz Timesheet Solutions Guide A guide to why Etz is a true SaaS solution and is able to deliver the full benefits of cloud computing to recruiters that want the best value from software spend

2 Introduction Timesheets are necessary for the operation of any recruitment house that provides temporary or contract workers. In uncertain economic times, it is a necessity to automate timesheet processes if the business is to maximise profitability through middle office efficiency. There are a number of timesheet software systems available. These may differ in various ways. The functions that are available and the ease of use are perhaps the most obvious differentiators. What may not be so apparent is the delivery architecture. SaaS solutions make use of cloud computing technology to deliver software applications over the internet. There are compelling advantages for this type of solution. However, not all SaaS timesheet solutions are created equal; the descriptions of some software services positioning them as cloud or SaaS may not be entirely accurate. In this guide we discuss how to define a true SaaS timesheet solution and why it matters to recruitment businesses that wish to obtain the full benefits and value from cloud computing. When is SaaS not SaaS? Anatomy of a SaaS solution according to Gartner In its IT Glossary, leading IT analyst organisation, Gartner provides this definition: 2012

3 If we break this out so it is easier to refer to, we obtain a numbered list like this: Software As A Service (SaaS) 1. Software as a service (SaaS) is software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. 2. If the vendor requires user organisations to install software on-premises using their infrastructures, then the application isn t SaaS. 3. SaaS delivery requires a vendor to provide remote, outsourced access to the application, as well as maintenance and upgrade services for it. 4. The infrastructure and IT operations supporting the applications must also be outsourced to the vendor or another provider. 5. The provider delivers an application based on a single set of common code and data definitions, which are consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time. 6. Customers may be able to extend the data model by using configuration tools supplied by the provider, but without altering the source code. Application functionality delivery models In the same way that there is more than one way to build a house, there is often more than one way to achieve any result when designing a software application. Different approaches to technical architecture means that there are three main ways to accomplish delivery of an application so that users may access the functionality and complete tasks: On premise o This is locally installed (or hosted) by the end user business; hardware, software and licensing need to be purchased; the system is owned and managed by the end user business; this is the traditional approach to software Remote hosting o The entire application and all supporting hardware and software resources are run (or hosted) at a remote data centre facility and delivered over the internet; this is true SaaS according to Gartner; it may also be referred to as cloud computing or web app Hybrid or mixed mode o This delivery model employs a mix of locally hosted and remotely hosted resources in order to deliver an application to end user businesses; without the local and remote resources the application does not function; inaccurate and less strict recognition of the SaaS definition means that it is commonplace for applications delivered in hybrid or mixed mode to be inaccurately described as SaaS, cloud computing or web apps In terms of unique characteristics of SaaS, only item 5 of the numbered list that we broke out from Gartner s SaaS definition is unique and may be used to identify true SaaS applications.

4 Why does true SaaS matter and what does it mean? It is important for a timesheet application to be true SaaS in delivery architecture because of the inherent advantages of cloud computing. Here s a reminder of Gartner s item 5 again: 5. The provider delivers an application based on a single set of common code and data definitions, which are consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at any time One of the easiest ways to explain what this means is to use the analogy of a house versus an apartment block.

5 If we equate SaaS apps to living in an apartment block, we can generalise and create this table to draw parallels between the benefits: Apartment block Cloud SaaS app Benefits Multiple self-contained, independently occupied dwelling units Multiple business customers access the application in self-contained, secure sessions Secure and efficient use of physical space; rented not owned; pay for what you use Sharing a satellite TV dish enables each apartment to share a single live sports broadcast in real time The application is running as a single instance and customers access a slice of it as a shared service Economy of scale - shared between all occupants or users, no need for separate dishes or copies of applications Single set of utilities feeds all dwelling units in entire apartment block Single set of resources feeds power and computing needs for all application users Economy of scale master set of resources to service all occupants or users Independent activity by those in one dwelling unit does not affect other dwelling units Independent use of software by individual users does not impact the ability of others to use the software No impact on the freedom of those in different dwelling units or the performance of the application for different customer businesses Table 1: Comparing an apartment block to an SaaS app The benefits of true SaaS There are a number of advantages that flow from the benefits given in Table 1 that make the case for a true SaaS timesheet solution compelling: Financial sense The SaaS delivery model effectively shifts timesheet software costs from CAPEX and enables it to be treated as an operational monthly cost. Simplifying things further, as there s nothing to own, there s nothing to depreciate. Easy scalability of web services means that many SaaS solutions operate a PAYG payment model based on monthly metering. This avoids tying up cash by buying ICT in advance to meet predicted growth. The current economic environment is uncertain; SaaS helps the bottom line at a time when growth is unpredictable.

6 Emphasis on value There is a much reduced risk of lock-in to a service provider. Historically, traditional software vendors have used proprietary technology to lock customers in and exploited this to impose costs that do not represent good value. The emphasis on no lock-in is generally indicative of the value-driven approach of many SaaS vendors and this extends to all areas of a solution including pre- and post-sales service and support. Integration-ready A SaaS timesheet solution may be readily custom-fitted to meet complex requirements, especially if data needs to be exchanged with in-house systems or other SaaS solutions. Many service providers are highly experienced at bespoke fitting their solution to meet precise requirements. Sometimes the solution may need to be accessed by a recruiter s client to complete the timesheet approval process. SaaS solutions that need to be used in this way may be white-labelled, meaning you can brand them with your own corporate identity. SaaS helps the bottom line at a time when growth is unpredictable. Low impact on ICT resourcing In terms of user support, in-house teams should have no increased responsibilities once solutions are implemented. True SaaS apps generally have good online support - naturally - and frequently they back this with user and administrator training if necessary. Expect telephone support for critical apps. In terms of infrastructure, as long as user computers are correctly specified and maintained, and existing networks are adequately specified for internet services, web-based applications have little or no impact on internal IT resources. Well supported business-class internet connections are essential, but no additional hardware or software resources need to be implemented. Good news for productivity Generally true SaaS apps are quoted with 99.9% availability, meaning that to all intents and purposes they are constantly available, 24x7, and timesheet processing and payroll is not disrupted because of service outages. Delivery from the cloud means back office staff don t have to be in the office and are able to work from wherever it is convenient. This is especially useful for flexible and remote workers, and aligns with organisational policies that support providing a better work/life balance. If contractors or freelance workers need to be brought in to address a staffing need, true SaaS apps generally scale up on demand or at short notice. Levelling the playing field Larger businesses tend to have access to newer versions or better solutions, frequently enhancing the competitive advantage that results from sheer size. From the perspective of small and medium businesses, true SaaS apps help level the playing field somewhat by allowing direct access to the best up to date technology tools that they may once have been denied for want of investment.

7 Rapid deployment The underlying resources that support the application reside on the cloud platform in the remote data centre, so there is little to worry about in terms of provisioning local resources. SaaS applications can be rapidly configured and rolled out to meet individual customer needs. This may include customisations to accommodate considerations such as branding, special reporting or currency requirements. If we had to stretch the apartment block comparison, it s a bit like saying that each individual dwelling unit can be decorated to the occupier s taste. Rapid scalability Cloud platforms are almost infinitely scalable, meaning that the hardware resources can be increased to provide extra capacity to accommodate temporary spikes or permanent increases in demand. Cloud solutions adapt to changing business needs; the most compelling example for this is the pay only for what you use principle. This means that planning for increased demand that may not necessarily be needed is a thing of the past. There is no need to invest in extra resources and commit capital for growth that may not happen. Rapid benefits of upgrades to all users True cloud SaaS application software runs as a single instance on the hosting provider s data centre hardware systems. This means there s only one copy or installation of the software to be upgraded and this can be easily carried out during a planned maintenance programme. The benefits of the upgrade are immediately available to all users as soon as the application is accessed by the users after the upgrade. WYSIWYG demonstrations It is only natural for vendors or service providers to present their products in the ideal environment in which to showcase the functionality and capability of the software. It is easy for prospective customers looking for a software solution to be impressed by a demonstration under laboratory conditions. However, sometimes this leads to the scenario of What You See Is NOT What You Get ; the real world may fail to provide the conditions for customers to obtain the benefits exactly as demonstrated. True SaaS applications should be free from caveats that limit performance or functionality due to differences from the demonstration environment. Cloud solutions adapt to changing business needs; the most compelling example for this is the pay only for what you use principle.

8 Summary In many ways, Gartner created the analyst industry of the modern ICT industry. Gartner s benchmarking and approach essentially sets the standards and definitions, creating a lens, a frame of understanding by which many ICT professionals evaluate, assess and understand the industry. To ignore or loosely define applications that do not follow the ICT industry s conventions (not necessarily Gartner s) is to invite inaccuracy. This may be misleading to consumers of technology that are not as conversant with the technical matters as ICT professionals. End user businesses should ensure that they fully understand the functionality, capability and limitations of software that is demonstrated; it is especially important to gain a realistic expectation of performance and the availability of features in the ICT environment in which the solution is to be deployed. In evaluating solutions, as part of a pre-sales process ensure that all relevant facts are discussed with potential service providers. Issue detailed requirement specifications and ensure the proposed solution matches the requirement. To ensure that the full benefits of the SaaS model are delivered, test any potential application against the Gartner definition. Etz is the only true SaaS application for Australia and the UK that puts timesheets at the core of the solution for the recruitment sector. Etz s online automated timesheet solution provides mid office efficiency and provides recruitment businesses with the full benefits of cloud computing that can only be derived from true SaaS solutions. About Etz Etz takes the time out of timesheets. With automated, powerful and easy-to-use software Etz saves recruitment agency back office costs by up to 70%. In just 60 seconds Etz can turn a candidate timesheet into a client invoice. Your staff no longer need to touch a single sheet of paper or make a calculation. And amazingly, Etz requires no special software installation or complicated training. Fantastically cost effective and user friendly Etz already makes an immense difference to hundreds of customers globally who would all happily provide a reference. Get started with the most powerful and amazingly user friendly timesheet software on the planet: or get in touch today: Australia: Singapore: References Gartner SaaS definition:

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