A SaaS, “Software as a Service,” application is a type of cloud computing application that is hosted by a third-party provider and is made available to customers over the internet. SaaS software and apps typically provide customers with business applications which are delivered on a subscription basis. Customers then pay a set fee on a regular basis, usually monthly or yearly, to access the application. Many SaaS apps offer free versions of the software that can be upgraded for more functionality. Many also offer a free or inexpensive trial of the software so users can determine if the app suits their needs prior to committing to a paid plan.
Questions answered in this article include the following:
What are the advantages of using SaaS software?
Incorporating SaaS apps into a business often has many advantages:
- Flexibility: SaaS applications are often highly scalable and can be customized easily to meet the changing needs of a business.
- Ease of Use: SaaS applications are usually easy to set up and use. This allows a business to start using them quickly with minimal effort.
- Automation: SaaS applications automate many manual processes. This saves businesses time and money.
- Accessibility: Saas applications are typically accessible from any device with an internet connection so users can access them from anywhere that has such a connection.
What are the disadvantages of using SaaS software?
SaaS software also has a number of disadvantages:
- Limited Control: Unlike traditional software, with SaaS apps, the user can only access and configure the application as much as the provider allows and cannot customize it beyond that point.
- Interoperability: A business may not be able to integrate SaaS applications with their existing applications and systems. This is particularly true if a business needs to access data from multiple sources.
- Reliability: SaaS software can be unreliable because it is not accessible if the SaaS provider or the internet connection goes down.
Is SaaS software a good option for my business?
It depends. It can be, but it depends on the parameters of the business. SaaS software can be very cost effective for many businesses because the business does not need to purchase, install, and maintain the software themselves. If the business requires multiple users to access the application, however, it can potentially become very expensive. Also, since security is maintained by the host company who regularly monitors and updates the software, it tends to be very secure, but it is hosted on the cloud, which typically reduces security. In addition, if a business needs a lot of control over the software beyond what a provider allows or if they need to integrate many systems, SaaS software may not be the best solution for them. Whether SaaS software will be a good option for a business depends on their needs: what they need help with and whether the SaaS software can do what they need it to do. Only they can decide.
What are the most common problems Saas software solves?
The four most common business problems that SaaS software can solve can be grouped into four categories:
- Accounting and Bookkeeping: SaaS accounting solutions can help businesses automate and streamline their financial processes. These processes include invoicing, payments, and payroll. For small businesses, SaaS software often eliminates the need for manual bookkeeping and simplifies the entire financial process.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM SaaS solutions help businesses manage their customer relationships in a more efficient, effective way. CRMs typically include such features as lead tracking, contact management, and automated communications, which enable businesses to easily manage their customer base.
- Human Resources (HR): HR SaaS solutions provide businesses with a range of tools and features to help them manage their employee data and performance. This includes scheduling, onboarding, payroll, and employee benefits.
- Project Management: Project management SaaS solutions help businesses plan, manage, and track their projects. These solutions typically include features such as task management, resource management, and reporting. This enables businesses to effectively manage their projects and ensure successful outcomes.
A future article will go into more detail about the problems that SaaS software can solve as well as possible recommendations if you need help that could possibly be provided by SaaS software.
Matraex would like to be your go-to source for answers to your app development and technology questions. Feel free to contact us, leave a note on our website’s instant messaging feature, or leave us a question on our Google Business Profile. We look forward to hearing from you.
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According to Techopedia, an MVP (minimum viable product) is “a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.”
In other words, an MVP contains 80% of the app’s value with only 20% of the features. It is an initial version of an app that will provide users with what is necessary to perform the primary functions of the app but without the functionality it is likely to acquire later. Many of those later functions will be determined by feedback from the users that the app is intended for.
Questions about MVPs in this article include the following:
What features are usually included in an MVP?
An MPV will have the basic content that is required for a user to navigate through the app including these essential features:
- The ability to gather user data.
- Login/Authentication features.
- Features that enable the users to actually engage with its key functions.
- Revenue generation/checkout capability (when needed).
What is not usually included in an MVP?
Non-essential or expensive content is generally not included in the MVP but will be added later based on demand and the feedback of the app’s users. This can include any of the following:
- Scale support, which consists of different methods of support, determined on the type of support and how in-depth the support is that one needs.
- Value proposition, which, according to Investopedia, is “the value a company promises to deliver to customers should they choose to buy their product.” This tends to be left out because, during the MVP stage of an app, the final value of the app to its users is to be determined.
- Differentors, which are features that set you apart or make you unique from your competition.
- Customized User Flows, that allow users to personalize their app experience but are not necessary for the primary functionality of the app.
- Social integrations, which allow users to interact with you or with each other.
If any of these features are essential for the primary use of the app, they would be included in the MVP. What features are included in the MVP is determined by the unique needs and requirements of the product user who has envisioned the software. The product used also determines what features are necessary to have in the app right away.
What are the reasons to consider an MVP?
There are many reasons to consider launching an app as an MVP. An MVP usually allows a product owner to release the app to the market as quickly as possible while also keeping the cost down. As an MVP, the app stays in a form that can easily be changed. An MVP also allows a product owner to gather user information, to conduct tests with real users before committing to the application’s full development, and to receive feedback from the app’s target market to see what resonates with them. From there, the product owner can see what changes and functionality the users would like to see as the app is further developed.
How do I prepare an MVP?
There are several steps that you can take that will help you create an MVP for your app:
- Create a list of features that you want your app to have.
- Put those features in order from most important to least important.
- Determine which features your app absolutely needs. That would be your MVP.
Can an app that starts as an MVP become successful?
Absolutely! Many well-known or popular apps started as MVPs. If you choose to start your app with one, you’ll be in good company. Apps that started as MVPs include the following:
- Facebook. Mark Zuckerburg initially designed it for his fellow classmates who attended Harvard University. He then expanded it to other universities while adding additional features, and it was eventually released to the public.
- Airbnb. The founders of Airbnb, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, originally created Airbnb to rent out an air mattress in their loft in San Francisco for an upcoming conference. Now, people across the world use it to find and rent accommodations.
- Amazon. When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, it was designed for him to purchase books from distributors and then ship them to customers when he received orders. Now, Amazon sells products worldwide and many merchants use it to conveniently sell their products.
- Uber. Uber originally started as “Uber Cabs” and was created from the difficulty in locating taxis the traditional way. Now, anyone can become an Uber driver and many features are offered. Those features include tracking your drive and cost-estimating.
Do you have other questions that you need answered before going through with an app project? Take a look at our blog for answers to your questions. Particular blogs that may interest you include “What Are Problems that Occur When Developing an App?” and “How Much Does a Custom App Cost?” If you have any questions that have not yet been answered in one of our blogs, contact us, give us a call at (208) 344-1115, or leave a question on our Google Business page. We want to make sure that all of your questions are answered before you start designing your custom app so you get exactly what you’re searching for.
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Waterfall and Agile are well known approaches in software development. They are two unique methodologies providing different directions for various types of projects.
Agile Software Development – a type of development framework that expects the need for flexibility and applies a level of efficiency to the delivery of the finished product through consistent deliverables & communication.
- Frequent meetings
- Works well in conjunction with MVP
- High flexibility
- Short term deadlines – quick deliverables
- Collaboration between parties
- Reduced risk
- Cost effective
This graph shows the flow of an agile timeline. There is constantly a new deliverable and after each deliverable, there is communication between parties to review what is working and what needs to shift in order to continue improving the product. The time between each deliverable is typically two to four weeks, although it can be shorter. Due to consistent communication between parties, agile is more cost effective because the project can shift easily and frequently.
Waterfall Software Development – With a waterfall methodology, the scope and requirements of the project are defined upfront. The client receives large batch deliverables at the end of each development phase.
- Goals set from the beginning
- Requirements are clear and fixed
- Infrequent meetings
- Complete deliverables before moving onto next phase
- Low flexibility
- Higher cost
Looking at the graph to the right, you’ll see that Waterfall project timelines are longer than Agile. While working on a Waterfall project, there is often less communication as the requirements are less flexible in the beginning phases of the project. Due to this, there is more risk associated because of less flexibility to change the product. In Waterfall, each stage of the project needs to be completed before moving on to the next step.
Agile is more commonly used today because of the flexibility, cost efficiency, and reduced risk associated with this methodology.
Mobile apps have increasingly become an integral part of the digital landscape. For many businesses, they are an indispensable asset and for others, the question still remains: “Should my business be utilizing a mobile app?” This article discusses a few things to consider before jumping into the world of app development and will give a better understanding of things to consider when deciding if an application is necessary for your business.
- Your audience
- The value of your app
- Your competitors
- Long term app support
- Current website
Consider who your audience and ideal customers are. Here is a great article from HubSpot that breaks down exactly how to figure out who your target audience is.
The Value of Your Mobile App
An app should add inherent value to both a business and its customers. Here are a few ways an app can add value:
- New Revenue
- Selling goods and services
- Process payments, track orders, and manage inventory
- Sell a new product
- Offer follow-up goods
- Build Relationships
- Connect to your customers through push notifications about new products, services, special offers, and events.
- Collect customer feedback and build relationships
- Better customer service
- Reduce Expenses
- Can help save time
- Answer questions
- Automate processes
Long Term App Support
Apps require maintenance of follow-up features and updates. Once an app is developed, there may be bug fixes to keep up with along with improving basic functionality of the app as time goes on. Consider the time commitment and cost associated with keeping an app updated.
When deciding if you need a mobile app, consider whether you are able to accomplish what you need by adding small changes to your website. A well optimized website can provide many of the same functions as a mobile application. If you already have a website, think about the additional benefits a mobile app will provide and ask yourself the question, “Should my business be utilizing a mobile app?”
All in all, developing an app can be a very positive addition to your business when it adds value and helps you connect with your consumers. If you are interested in looking at the next steps, talking with a professional app development company is a great place to start in order to assess your business needs and determine if an app is right for you.
We are often asked if we build “websites” – yes we do, but there is nuance to the answer. The websites that we build are better defined as “Web Applications”. And a “Web Application” is different from another type of website – a “Marketing Website”. How are these two different? In short: A Marketing Website presents information about a topic or business and a Web Application helps users get something done. The table below describes many of the differences between a Marketing Site and a Web Application. Since Matraex is the #1 Web Applications development firm in the Boise market – people looking for a local ‘Website Designer’ will often reach out to us – I added some links to the Google My Business page for several long term and reliable local resources to help people understand the different companies that comprise these different categories of “Website” builders.
The key differences between a Marketing Website and a Web Application
|Marketing Website||Web Application|
|Purpose||A marketing website’s goal is to provide information, most of these are corporate business sites providing details of a company’s offerings with resources, contact information and links to related industry||A Web Application is a website that helps a user accomplish something through its interfaces.|
|Development process||A Marketing Website can be developed by creating and approving a design, building on the information and content and then applying the design to the content.||A Web Application starts as an idea and forms into a list of features (a roadmap) with the most important features first. The developers implement the items in order of the roadmap. More sophisticated applications often have multiple environments so the complex logic can be tested be approving features to be moved to launch.|
|Time to launch||An entry Marketing Website can take between one week and one month depending on complexity and number of pages.||An entry Web Application MVP (minimum viable product), can take 2 to 6 months to launch.|
|Time Requirements||Most time goes to creating content and managing SEO. A larger one time cost to design the interface and layout is a close second||Most time is spent in developing code to create features and functionality.|
|Team||A project manager, a content creator, and a front-end developer.||Project manager and a full stack developer. Larger teams will have roles split into back-end and front-end developers.|
|Hosting Cost||Less expensive – MANY SOLUTIONS!||More expensive – the hosting is often decided by the technology stack and development group. Modern applications use cloud based hosting which only charge for usage, but can scale to high levels|
|Common Technology Platforms||WordPress, Wix, Square||PHP, React.js, NodeJS, ASP.NET, java|
|Specialties||HTML / CSS / Design / Front End|
SEO / Content Generation /
Design / Copywriting
|Programming / Database / Logic / Backend
Testing / User Experience / QA
Innovation / Security
Application development UI illustration in flat design. Mobile app building concept banner with industrial crane and team of workers developing and constructing applications. App development company.
There is a constant need for apps to help employees and everyday people complete tasks. Developing an app of your own can be both helpful for the general workforce and lucrative for yourself. The following is a step by step approach for how app development is done.
The first step in developing an app is to decide which kind you should make. Take note of the different tasks you do at work or at home and see if any of them can be automated. Write down all the ideas that come to mind, even the bad ones. In my experience, bad ideas that don’t get ignored lead to good ideas, so write them down. Take a look at other apps on the market and determine if they are lacking anything, or if there are ways they could be better. All of this will help you pinpoint what sort of app you should develop.
2. The Design Document
Once you know what kind of app you want to build, the next step is to put it into words in the form of the design document. The purpose of this document is to keep the development project on track. The design document outlines all of the features and abilities you want your app to have. For more information on writing a design document click here.
3. The Prototype
Now you’re ready to actually build the app. You’ll start by creating the prototype. This will be a rudimentary version of your app. At this point, the main concern is to get all of the functionality in place. The prototype doesn’t need to be beautiful, the art and design of the app (while important) will be one of the last things to work on.
4. Testing the App
There will be a plethora of bugs to work out. The bugs come from mistakes in the code, weird usage the app’s design didn’t account for and other reasons. Testing will help you find the mistakes so you can fix them before your end users find them. Try to throw every conceivable scenario at your app to make sure it can handle them properly. When you’re working so close to an app, it can be hard to step back and spot problems that fresh eyes could find. For this reason, you’ll want to have friends and family test your app to further uncover any bugs.
5. Polishing the App
Now that you’ve finish testing and fixed all the bugs you were able to find, you’re ready to polish your prototype into a finished app. This includes choosing attractive color schemes, borders, buttons and art that you want to include in your app, as well as organizing your menus in a way that has a logical flow. Typically a skilled UI designer would work on this part, but that would add significantly to the cost of your app. If a UI designer is not within your budget then at the very least make sure your app is both easy to use and pleasing to look at.
Now your app is finished and ready for distribution. There’s a few ways you can get your app to the masses. If you designed your app for a particular operating system, there are online digital stores you’ll be able to sell it in. For example, if you designed your app for Android devices, you’d be able to sell it on the Google Play Store or even on your own website. Document your apps features and include tutorials and screenshots. If you distribute and sell the app through your own personal website you’ll need both a server and a decent digital payment system, respectively.
If you have an idea for an app and would like our team of developers to build it for you, contact us by clicking here and get started with a free one hour consultation.
We’ve all done it before, got bored, downloaded an app and (without a second thought) gave it permission to access our camera, microphone and contacts list. While there are legitimate reasons why apps may need access to your camera (like a video calling app) other times it makes no sense, like if a solitaire game app needs access to your microphone. Nowadays it’s necessary to think critically about the permissions we grant to software applications.
What are Mobile Permissions?
On both iPhone and Android, apps require your permission to access sensitive data on your phone. This includes but is not limited to: contacts, your camera, photos, your microphone, etc. The app retains this permission until it’s disabled. Sometimes you’ll be given an option to grant permission to the app at all times or just while the app is in use.
Giving an app permission to access your camera or photos shouldn’t be taken lightly. Technically, by doing that, the app can take pictures and video with your phone, anywhere, anytime and could potentially post them online. I’ll let your imagination help you conclude why that could be a problem. If an app has a legitimate reason why it needs to access your camera, like sending video clips via Snapchat, or Facetime, then it makes sense why they need to have access to your camera. In cases like that, you’re most likely fine to give it permission. However, if an app wants to access your camera or photos, and there’s no feature in the app that warrants it (like a mobile card game or reading app like Kindle) then that’s a huge red flag and you should probably deny it permission.
The microphone can provide data every bit as sensitive as a camera can. Since our phones are on or near us almost every second, we probably don’t think twice about what we say around them. But if our phones had ears (and they do) what would they hear us talking about? Would they hear us mentioning PIN’s or social security numbers. Would they hear us give passwords, birthdays or email addresses? Usually, when an app asks for permission to access our microphones, it gives us the option to only grant it while the app is in use. Some apps will use your phone to listen to what shows and movies are playing around you to give advertisers a better idea of how to market to you. While that example isn’t super distressing, you don’t have to think far to figure out how access to your microphone could be used for more insidious purposes. Again, for this reason, think hard about whether or not an app really needs access to your microphone. If you can’t think of a good reason, then there’s a good chance that app wants to use it for iniquitous purposes.
Apps that have some form of messaging usually ask for permission to access your contacts. This can be helpful to find out who else in your contacts list is also using the same app. But once again, if it doesn’t make sense for the app to use your contacts list, then it’s not a good idea to give the app access to it. For example, if you’re a sudoku buff and download a mobile version of the SINGLE PLAYER game, there is zero reason that app needs your contact list. Usually games like this and solitaire, where players don’t interact with other people, will want to use your contact list to send spam out in order to get more people to download the app.
Your business is booming and you’ve got an idea (and a need) for an app that will make managing your enterprise 100% easier. You start searching for a team of developers to create your new app. What skill sets should you be looking for in this development team? The following are 5 technical skills you will want your app development team to be well versed in.
1. Cross-Platform Abilities
One of the most polarizing topics in our society is whether Android or iOS is better than the other. Regardless of what side of the platform aisle you fall on, in order for your app to be a success, you don’t want it to have to pick a side. For this reason, your team of developers needs to know how to use a cross-platform tool, so the app can be neatly translated into iOS, Windows and Android.
2. Cloud Infrastructure
Have you ever stopped and wondered what the cloud actually is? The name conjures an image of a giant area in the sky where a bunch of 1s and 0s fly around until summoned to our phones or desktops. In reality, the cloud physically exists as a network of data centers (giant complexes with lots of computers inside) located around the world. Most apps will live in these data center networks, so it’s important that your app developers know how to interact with them and be able to recommend which network will fit your needs best.
3. Current Coding Language
The world is getting increasingly more mobile, so you’ll want to make sure that you team up with developers who are skilled at coding for mobile apps. There is an array of different coding languages well suited for mobile app development. Your development team should have a working knowledge of at least one of them and be able to explain why they selected that coding language to build your app.
It goes without saying that security is essential for your app. While it’s true there will always be a risk, minimizing that risk is crucial. Your development team needs to have a clear understanding of security protocols as well as what tools and practices will be the best to secure your app.
5. Data Proficiency
Your app will be driven by data. Data is something your app needs to collect a lot of, so you can better understand your end results. You’ll need a developer who can build efficient databases so the app will run smoothly. Your app will collect data in many different forms and from many different sources. The development team needs to be familiar with these sources and forms of data so the app can interact with them properly.
Apps can make a world of difference for your business. They can increase sales, streamline processes, save time, improve productivity, security and more. In short, an app is well worth the investment. If you have an idea or need for an app, contact us today to get started.
When starting a career for an app development company, you’ll want to set yourself apart from the crowd by knowing what coding languages are most in demand. One of the best ways to make yourself more marketable is by being proficient in as many high-demand programming languages as you can be. Learning a programming language takes time and energy, so you’ll want to focus your efforts on learning a language that will give you the best return on your efforts. The following is a list of 5 programming languages that any software developer would do well to have under their belt.
HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the foundational building block language of the web. This language is used for web documents, website maintenance and development. HTML formats what information means and how it is structured on a website. Programmers use HTML to structure and create the text on a website such as links, headings and paragraphs.
HTML is another commonly used programming language that will help programmers look more attractive to hiring managers.
Python is a somewhat easy programming language to learn and is used by both beginning and experienced programmers. Python is in high demand and allows developers to utilize an array of different programming styles like reflective, functional and object-oriented.
Over half of hiring managers look for candidates who can use Python making this programming language a very marketable one to know.
CSS stands for cascading style sheets and is used for website development/design and web documents. CSS programs the size, position and color of the elements on a webpage. Knowing this language helps programmers be a bit more versatile, plus it’s a relatively easy language to learn.
PHP is a very popular scripting language used for making dynamic web pages. Also, common open source shop systems are carried out in PHP. Learning this programming language helps developers become more valuable and attractive to employers. PHP is also free to use because it’s an open source framework.
Don’t get hung up on which programming language you choose to learn. Decide on what kind of work you want to do and choose the language best suited for your goals. At the end of the day, learning any new skill will increase your abilities and make you more marketable to hiring managers.
The Developers Kept Saying Story Points
I sat in a meeting recently, with a group of developers discussing what we had accomplished at work that week. We went around the room, dishing out numbers for different projects we were working on and I noticed something strange. The developers kept on telling the group how many “story points” they had done. I think I should point out that I am not a developer and their lingo is still somewhat foreign to me. I was intrigued. Part of me knew a story point probably wasn’t very interesting, but another part of me imagined the developers putting together plots and storylines for a Dungeons and Dragons quest. So what are story points used for?
Story Points are a Strange Unit of Measurement
I guess anything new can be a little strange, and story points were strange to me. I talked with David Sutherland, one of our awesome developers, and asked him what story points were. (We actually made a video about them. I’ll post it at the end of the blog). Anyway, David told me that story points are a way for developers to measure the amount of work they need to do. Before the developers start building an app for a client, they need to be able to give the client an estimate of how much the app will cost to make. Apparently, as I found out in my research, estimating how much time it takes to develop an app, is a notoriously difficult thing to do. Difficult enough, in fact, that app developers worldwide have adopted story points as a unit to measure the work needed to build apps.
How are Story Points Calculated?
It’s easier for developers to estimate the number of steps it’ll take to make an app, than it is to estimate the amount of time it’ll take to build said app. They’ll break the project down into smaller steps and assign those steps (or tasks) a number. A task with a higher number, will most likely take longer to complete, than a task that is assigned a lower number. It gets trickier though. There’s a level of uncertainty associated with any task that needs to be completed. This means that when a developer is working on a step, they won’t know how long it will take to complete, until they’ve actually started working on it. The reason for this is because unforeseen challenges can arise that will slow down the process. I should probably note that a task or step with more uncertainty is given a higher story point value. Different development teams attach different time lengths to story points, but it can work something like this: 1 story point = .5-2 hours, 2 story points = 2-4 hours, 3 story points = 4-8 hours, 5 story points = 8-20 hours.
Why do They do This?
So why then, do developers spend so much energy trying to accurately estimate work? The answer is money. In the video David and I made, I had already figured out why this was important, but I asked him anyway, why these estimates were so critical. He told me, that underestimating the time needed to build the app, would result in the client spending more money on the app than initially budgeted. On the other hand, if the project was overestimated, the higher price could scare customers away. Hence, being able to accurately estimate the amount of work/time needed to build the app is entirely necessary to make sure we don’t overcharge the client.
Our team of developers are highly skilled in both programming AND estimating story points, so they can build your business a quality app at an affordable price. If you have an idea for an app you’d like us to build, contact us.