The WikiPedia describes Software as a Service (SaaS) as:
“a model of software delivery where a company adopts specific activities that provide customers access to software alleviating that customer from the maintenance and daily technical operation and support of business and/or consumer software.”
In plain English, it means software providers offer web-native solutions instead of insisting that clients keep on staff, or pay as a consultant, some PC geek to walk around with a floppy and install upgrades every time the application is upgraded, maintain a Novell network to keep the herd-o-cats happy and run around like a headless chicken when a user’s hard disk crashes.
Instead, so long as a client has access to the Internet with a relatively up-to-date browser, they’re set. For those into blogging, the two best examples I can think of are TypePad and Blogger … the antithesis being FrontPage and/or DreamWeaver.
There are many companies in the U.S. providing many jobs both foreign and abroad taking on niche markets based upon the SaaS model – including churches. Some that come to mind are:
- Church Community Builder,
- Fellowship Technologies,
- For Ministry,
- MercyTree, and
I know of one church, First Baptist Church of Frederick Maryland (FBCFMd), that employs such a service – leveraging the technology help achieve the not-so-easy paradigm shift from a pastor-driven model to a lay-driven model church where tasks can be performed off-site from any browser at any time by any authorized church user.
And while First “Fredneck’s” website generated by the Church Community Builder (CCB) content management system (CMS) features could use some healing with regards to valid HTML and layout, it is still a big, effective step-up when one considers the crufty, unmanageable, inaccessible and irrelevant Flash-Driven site previously offered by FBCFMd a couple of years ago. Especially as the CCB CMS directly incorporates selected data managed by authorized church members.
Moreover, I learned from a very pleasant phone conversation with their pastor that First Frederick’s selected SaaS helps keep this highly mobile, suburbanly sprawled congregation together by facilitating both paid and lay staff in terms of communications, sharing materials and schedule management. In other words, the problems solved by FBCF’s use of the CCM go well past that of simple website content ‘manglement.’
And while I’m a big proponent of using blogs in a similar fashion, for those not blessed with an individual and/or server situation to setup and run with something like MovableType and WordPress, I’d say Software as a Service is an option worth exploring – provided you understand the need for a needs analysis be performed before calling a single vendor.