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Every Tuesday night in New Orleans the developer community gets together for Hack Night. We rave and argue about old and new technologies and platforms. It’s an open and welcoming group for presenting cool stuff you are working on and connecting to other developers in the city. We also drink. Well, we mostly drink. And argue. It’s fun.

Last week I was pitching my friend, Barrett Conrad, about this new product we’re building at Revelry. Barrett runs a boutique software development shop here in New Orleans called CotingaSoft. My elevator pitch wasn’t dialed in yet, so I started by asking a question.

“How much money do you spend on SaaS services per month?”
I don’t recall the number of services or dollar amount, but the problem was there. Too many services, too much software, too many places to sign in and do things, and too many increasing costs.

Barrett proceeded to coin this problem, “Death by SaaS.”

When those freemium hooks sink in, a company really starts to feel the pain as the business scales. And if you aren’t paying attention, it can bite you in the ass.

Build vs. Buy

As many growing companies do, we ask ourselves, is this something we build, or do we pay for a service so we can move another needle forward? This eventually catches up with you. See problem above and Rule #1 below. As Thomas Knoll mentions in his post, Money = Time

As if the reason we don’t have 12 more months to run the business was because I didn’t turn off that “$19 per month a/b testing service we weren’t using because we had our own solution” fast enough. While it is certainly stupid to waste money, maybe it would help to spend different money sooner.

Thomas was making a general comment there. There wasn’t an individual service that was breaking the company, but that statement prompted me to take another look at all the services we were using at Revelry. Now, we do a monthly SaaS audit to trim the fat.

The Unspoken Rule of Software Development

Lock in your users. The number one rule has traditionally been to build software products that make it easy for users to get data into the system but also make it as difficult as possible to get data out.

This rule has definitely changed over the years thanks to the efforts of various open web, open data, and OAuth initiatives. And associations like The Small Business Web bringing companies together to create the open web for small businesses. We’re now seeing more and more products integrated with more and more services through APIs. The ability to move data in and out of SaaS platforms is getting easier and easier.

Death by SaaS is still a problem, but it’s getting better.

We’re cooking up a new product at Revelry that we think can add additional value to the small business web. Until then, do a SaaS audit and make sure you are using what you are paying for.

Tell me, is all that SaaS killing you? Are you paying for more than you use? Could you be subscribing to death by SaaS?

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