There’s no getting around it. These days, if you want to stay relevant, you have to stay up to date with the latest technologies—and your service business is no exception. With a long history of working off pen-and-paper workflows and disjointed platforms, it might feel like any technology you’re leveraging puts you ahead of the game, right? Well, the reality is that most of your competitors have already beaten you to the punch by upgrading their operations with new systems and even in-field applications for their technicians.
So, where do you start? The best way to begin modernizing your business is to evaluate your resources and iron out the specific needs of your organization. When it comes to implementing new software platforms for your business, there are a number of different factors to consider. But most importantly, you have to decide on the right infrastructure for YOU. It all comes down to one question: Do you want to go open source or SaaS?
Open Source Vs. SaaS: What’s the Difference?
Before we dive into which solution is right for you, let’s take a second to identify the main attributes of each one.
Software as a Service (SaaS)
Often abbreviated as SaaS, software as a service is defined as being a software delivery model hosted and distributed by a service provider over the Internet. Instead of installing your software on individual computers, you can access it through just about any computer on any web browser. That means you get access to your platform any time—from any system—anywhere in the world.
Open Source Software
Open-source software is characterized by a codebase that is freely available to the public. With it, you can view, modify and distribute variations—based on the terms of its open-source licensing, of course. That means, as a company, you have the agency to customize the software to suit your own specific needs.
Let’s break down the five elements that illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of both software types.
1. Features and Functionality
Saas for field service and project management typically offers users a suite of robust features to help streamline operations on and off the job site. These features often include scheduling and dispatching, work order management, asset tracking, real-time location tracking, reporting and analytics, customer management, and a number of different integration capabilities. SaaS solutions are built and maintained by dedicated providers, ensuring regular updates, bug fixes, and feature enhancements.
On the flip side, open-source software provides users with a solid foundation for endless customization and flexibility when it comes to developing the platform that best suits their needs. It allows businesses to directly modify the software’s source code according to their unique workflows. The drawback here is that, in order to make your software dreams come true, you need developers and a level of expertise that most businesses don’t have sitting in their back pockets.
2. Implementation & Maintenance
Now, we’re not going to come right out of the gate and tell you that implementation is easy. But SaaS companies are known for easing the transition between platforms and reducing the risks that come along with integrating new software. Your service provider handles tasks like server maintenance, security updates, and data backups—freeing up you and your team to focus on developing your business and defining your new and improved workflow.
Open-source software, however, is far more demanding on the implementation front. Not only do businesses have to set up their own onsite server infrastructure, but they also have to configure the software—no easy task without a dedicated industry professional—and address any and all maintenance needs that could arise over the course of the software’s lifespan.
3. Scalability & Customization
When you think SaaS, think scalability. With flexible pricing models to fit a variety of different-sized companies, you can be sure that your chosen SaaS field service management platform will grow with you and your business. SaaS providers also have the leeway to customize and adapt different product features and modules to fit your industry workflow.
This is where open-source software tends to really shine. When it comes to customization, open source is king. You and your commercial service business have the agency to modify and customize features to suit the ever-changing nature of your organization. But again, this requires a set of technical expertise and the investment of both time and resources to ensure continued compatibility with all future software updates.
4. Security & Compliance
A true advantage to implementing a SaaS-based field service management platform is the level of security that goes along with it. Your data is sensitive—and so is the data of every single one of your customers. SaaS platforms leverage top-of-the-line security encryption protocols, along with comprehensive access controls and regular security audits. Your provider invests countless hours and resources in maintaining a secure infrastructure—along with data protection compliance and regulations. Going with SaaS means protecting your data from unauthorized access and keeping your customers safe from bad actors—or careless stakeholders.
Once again, the major shortcoming of going with an open-source solution is that it relies on you and your team to prioritize and implement security and compliance. While the chosen software can be secure, it’s always up to you to configure and manage your system so that it adheres to traditional regulatory requirements.
Cost will undoubtedly be a major factor when it comes to deciding which field service management software is right for your service organization. Luckily, SaaS platforms generally follow a flexible subscription-based pricing model—calculated on a per-technician basis. This allows you to pay for your chosen software on an ongoing basis—without the need for any significant up-front investment (of course, this changes from provider to provider). And while the costs are lower on the front end, cumulative payments can definitely surpass the initial investment required for an open-source solution.
With regards to cost, open-source solutions definitely offer an attractive cost advantage—as the software itself is generally available free of charge. But be sure not to underestimate the total cost of ownership. That means the total cost of building and maintaining your server infrastructure, the technical expertise required to adapt the software to fit your company workflows or any other development expenses that might show up along the way.
Still not sure which way to go? Come visit the BuildOps website for a full rundown of what it’s like to work with one of the most comprehensive SaaS-based field service management tools available in today’s market. Visit us here and register for your demo today.