This is some documentation that I am doing for work.
Software as a Service(SaaS) is using an outside resource to provide a Software Packages to the city so we do not need to build and maintain every application.
The city of Richmond has been doing this for sometime with web application. Although I do not know all of the history we have been using NeoGov.org to provide our employment listing and The city code has been using SaaS for several years just currently moving to Lexis/Nexus.
How to score a SaaS
While SaaS can be for anything the field is becoming more and more niche marketed. So how does one Identify a good SaaS.
That is DIRECTLY answers a need. It is easy to find a general provider but history tell us that customizing is often harder then finding a lesser know but better fit provider. (A. score 1 to 10 how closely the SaaS answers the needs)
Is the applications skinable. Is the presentation layer allow for us to make it look like our site and accept our branding. (B. score 1 to 10 how well can it be branded)
has RSS feeds of our data.(C. score 1 to 10 graded by how much you can control the RSS feed or feeds)
Is the applications accessible will it allow handcapped people to use this site. (D. score 1 to 10 )
Is there a Data API that allows for us to (E. score 1 to 10 see below)
take a snap shot of our data that can be moved to the data wearhouse.
allow us to build widgets that will allow for presentation of mirco-amounts of our data. to different parts of the website. The police would want to have jobs for the police atleast displayed on there site the api should allow us to write to that.
allows for data to be mashed up.
Is the data secure. Remember that a city may have a totally different security obligatiion then a SaaS would. Take HIPA for example the SaaS might not be capable of securing that type of data. You have to know your data security model. (F. score 1 to 10 how closely the SaaS answers the needs)(F. score 1 to 10 how closely does it meet our needs)
Will it meet our record keeping rules. (G. score 1 to 10)
Is there any problems with the licensing agreement. (such as you give up copywrite or they can resale it with out notice.)(H. score 1 to 10)
Tech support / How easy will it be to fix problems. (1. score 1 to 10)
How many and who provide simular services. (so the score can be compared)
Score upto 250= (A*5) + (B) + (C*2) + (D*3) + (E*5) + (F) +(G) + (H) + (I *5)
Why the Multiplyer
A. This why we are doing the SaaS because it is faster then doing it on our own. That is why it is weigthed so heavly.
B. Skin and Branding is just a plus it should not get in the way of a good tool and if there is a good API branding will be possible though the API.
C. RSS feeds is the perfered push method and cost less then an alert technology. It is also a sign that the provider has a good understanding of WEB2.0 tech.
D. We will be bound by law to be accessible plus it is just morally right to have city resources available to all of the city.
E. This is just VERY important. Sometime in the future some one will want to take the date that is in the SaaS and do something with it. If it is locked up in someone else Data Base that will be no good. If there is a good API we will have a great resource to build other tools on top of. If I was in control I would not be involved into any SaaS that did not provide a strong and open API.
F. Data Security while being important it why is it ranked so low. If the SaaS has a bad Security Model the SaaS should be immeadately out of the running. so the ranking starts at good and should move to great. Well when it comes down to it if all of the choices are at least good the importance of security really goes down.
G. If there is a good api this is not an issue. If not you need to know that there might be a legal responsability to keep information for a certain period of time and even more difficult is what did the website look like on ANY day during the period of record keeping.
H. This is only a problem if you have an issue and didn’t read it before hand. This is a huge subject and something I am not going to go into here. The truth is I have yet to see a project get rejected due to the ULLA I heard that the Feds have issues but City Manager of Software seem to more often then not Agree and Click next in under 3 seconds.
I. This is how well the SaaS will survive our insitution. If the SaaS takes all types of special Business Training and special IT support training then it will be harder to support and hard to build upon. If it is open and has lot of crowd sourcing then it well be easy to find people to work on, help develop and train our city.