Benefits of SaaS for the Public Sector
June 02, 2021 by
Online services and remote operations help governments to better meet constituents’ needs. This became increasingly apparent throughout the coronavirus pandemic. During this time, traditional software applications, even custom-built solutions, often fell short in their ability to support digital governments, exposing worrisome gaps. If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s that public sector innovation and responsiveness are essential. Governments must be agile and able to successfully deliver existing and new services quickly and in evolving contexts. In this complex landscape, SaaS solutions offer governments an effective and equitable way to provide critical services and continue — even strengthen — operations.
What is SaaS?
Software as a service — SaaS — uses the internet to securely deliver software solutions. Unlike stand-alone software that is installed on local systems, SaaS solutions are hosted in the cloud. The cloud is everywhere: every time we log in to our favorite social networks, stream a movie, or do a quick online search, we access the cloud.
Over the past couple of decades, the software industry has embraced SaaS and shifted steadily toward building and shipping cloud-based software. A key reason for this shift is the short stand-up time to get fully functional. Another advantage is the efficiency of adding software improvements and upgrades automatically from the cloud without disruption. In addition, all backend maintenance and security features for SaaS solutions are built into a platform or are enabled by the secure cloud. As a result, in the SaaS model, the software provider absorbs the cost of security and updates, not the end user.
All of these features — greater efficiency, increased automation, and lower cost — have made SaaS the primary choice of businesses in every sector. A recent forecast from Gartner shows worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services will grow by 23% in 2021 to $332.3B. This is up from $270B in 2020, with SaaS the largest market segment at $122.6B in 2021. Growth in SaaS has been fueled by COVID-19, as organizations looked for solutions to support remote work, enable automation, enhance security, and reduce the need for in-person IT support.
What makes SaaS the right choice for the public sector?
When budgets are determined by population, smaller regions can have fewer resources to invest in technology and software solutions that can increase constituent access to services and help improve communities. The use of on-premises or consultant-implemented software can exacerbate ongoing technology inequities between urban and rural regions. The bigger your budget, the more sophisticated your on-prem solution can be.
Because any specific improvements or additions made to a SaaS solution are scaled to every customer regardless of size, SaaS emerges as the more equitable option for technology solutions in the public sector. With SaaS, features and improvements added to a solution driven by the needs of the biggest jurisdictions — cities like New York or San Francisco — are instantly available to the smallest cities and counties, irrespective of their budget. Since taxpayers ultimately bear the cost of government purchases, this is an important distinction from on-premises and consultant-driven solutions. SaaS levels the playing field, delivering equal access to technology solutions. The result? Better lives for all citizens.
Government leaders are now recognizing these advantages. Particularly for governments working to upgrade legacy systems, SaaS solutions offer the flexibility that’s needed today. They’re easy to customize and their secure application programming interfaces (APIs) make it easy to aggregate and access data from different sources for new insight.
Despite the wide-ranging adoption of SaaS in many sectors and industries, the perception that SaaS is less secure than on-premises software persists. In reality, SaaS is the most secure option. SaaS solutions have built-in security and are continuously upgraded and optimized. Public sector CIOs recognize this. A recent survey of State CIOs indicated that their top technology priorities were cloud solutions and SaaS.
Software providers building cloud-hosted solutions exclusively for the public sector adhere to strict security standards when delivering solutions. Tyler Technologies’ enterprise data platform, for example, is FedRAMP Moderate accredited, and users can trust that it meets government standards for cloud service security protocols. As with the benefits of applicable solutions, even the smallest cities and counties benefit from the high level of SaaS security enjoyed by some of the largest jurisdictions and agencies.
Using a SaaS platform that is purpose-built for the public sector delivers all the advantages of SaaS while also providing new features created with government leaders in mind. SaaS solutions enable innovation, enhance agency outcomes, and increase equity.