Local governments should always be looking for ways to streamline their operations. Budgetary restraints, increased citizen demands for services and data security are all roadblocks that arise when governments are looking for new ways to create efficiencies. One way municipalities can manage these challenges is through leveraging Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). SaaS is a cloud computing service where organizations can run a software application on an internet browser instead of downloading the software on their hardware. Governments and businesses alike have begun to capitalize and invest in the benefits SaaS provides. In fact, Gartner has predicted that the SaaS market share will account for $151 billion of technology spending by 2022.
That prediction shows a serious investment into the future of cloud technology by municipalities and businesses. Here is an overview of some of the benefits SaaS would provide to local governments looking to streamline operations.
Technology spending makes up a significant portion of local government budgets. Because COVID-19 is expected to result in lower tax revenues, it is critical that governments find ways to continually optimize their technology budgets in the coming months and years. Items on a technology budget are typically classified as either a capital expense (CapEx) or an operational expense (OpEx). Municipalities that invest in SaaS as an OpEx item can reap several benefits.
First, SaaS can be more easily approved as an OpEx item, versus being a CapEx item. CapEx items usually must be paid for up-front while OpEx items are paid on a monthly or quarterly schedule. This reduction in upfront costs can free up a significant amount of a municipality’s budget for other priorities and initiatives. When municipalities invest in SaaS as an OpEx, there is no need to spend on costly servers and other hardware that can eat into the allotted technology budget. SaaS as an OpEx item means that the service provider is responsible for any additional maintenance, updates, data storage and hosting costs, further reducing additional administrative costs for the municipality.
Municipalities house massive amounts of data on different applications and legacy systems. It can seem daunting to introduce a new system and somehow integrate all the data together. Most new SaaS applications offer integration tools and application programming interfaces (APIs) that make combining different sets of data from multiple sources easy.
One of the most important aspects of SaaS for municipalities is that it allows for more flexibility. Because SaaS applications are hosted in the cloud, new updates can be done automatically by the provider without needing to come on premise. This allows IT personnel to spend more time focusing on other, more pressing issues instead of routine, yet time-intensive maintenance.
Customization is also easier with SaaS-based systems. Needs and priorities shift either seasonally, such as during tax season or due to recent events that affect a community, such as natural disasters. Municipalities need to be able to quickly scale up to meet the new demands as they come. The scalability of SaaS is a benefit that allows municipalities to grow as the needs of their citizens grow.
The changing landscape brought on by COVID-19 has only accelerated the need for municipalities to adjust to the new normal and find ways to adopt new efficiencies. Investing in SaaS displays a readiness by municipalities to confront real-world hurdles head on with the latest advancements in technology.