The cloud computing market is projected to reach over $27 billion in 2015, reports Statistica, resulting in plenty of options when it comes to chosing a SaaS vendor for your company. In fact, your choices can easily be overwhelming if you don't have existing vendor partnerships. However, with the right strategy in place to effectively research, test and evaluate vendors choosing the right SaaS partner doesn't have to be difficult. Consider these essential questions during your decision-making process.

Does the vendor align with your business goals?

The first criteria in choosing a SaaS vendor is whether their solutions actually align with your business goals. A vendor may offer a substantial list of features, but if the features don't provide you with benefits you need, they're useless.

Before seeking out specific vendors, define your business software needs. Are you looking for collaboration software, or do you need a customer relationship management application? Do you need enterprise-wide software, or something for a specific department? Request software criteria from users who are incorporating these solutions into their business processes. This way you begin the process with a clear idea of what your business really needs.

What service level agreements does the vendor offer?

Business downtime creates productivity loss, reduces customer trust and has a major impact on your bottom line. Gartner reports the average company loses $5,600 per minute of downtime. With SaaS solutions you're rely on the vendor to provide support during downtime. An insufficient service level agreement, or reliability issues, can negatively impact your ability to stay productive and do business. Choosing a vendor with robust SLAs is important. And, while you're reviewing these, making sure to ask what security measures the vendor has in place to keep your applications secure and your data safe.

Who do your other vendors use?

SaaS penetration continues to grow, with Forbes reporting that today 81 percent of companies over 100 employees use cloud-based solutions. Chances are, vendors already working with your company have SaaS experience. Just as you might ask a trusted friend for vendor recommendations, so should you look to trusted partners to find out which solutions they're using. Ask about their personal experiences with the vendor, but do your own research, as well. Find out which SaaS vendors are favored in your industry, particularly those who have many clients matching your business size.

Effectively evaluating SaaS vendors

SaaS vendors typically offer a hands-on demo, a free trial or freemium model to introduce you to the service. Sit down with a list of your business goals while testing these solutions. Note everything from the UI navigation to the responsiveness from customer support or customer success teams. If possible, bring in individuals who will use the service in their daily business process to see how closely it meets their needs.

Choosing the right SaaS solution may take some time, but ensuring the right partnership the first time will save time in the longrun. Afterall, you don't want to have to repeate the process a few months down the line.

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