The SaaS model for fire service and inspections

A look at the benefits of using a web-based operating structure


Software as a Service (SaaS) is a business model that provides users with everything they need, including the infrastructure, software, support and ongoing maintenance on a monthly basis, often times for less than what desktop software makers will charge for an annual maintenance and support agreement—all delivered through an Internet browser.

It’s a model that BuildingReports, Suwanee, Ga., has been perfecting for some time—10 years—logging 30,000 users of its Web-based Inspection Reporting Service. Designed for service and maintenance, systems integrators are finding this model helps reduce overhead and improves efficiencies for scheduling service and inspections, adding a much-needed guided course in recurring monthly revenue.

The benefits of a Web-based operating structure are many, especially as the industry continues to move more fully into networking and virtual services. The Web-based operating structure allows BuildingReports to cost effectively scale the system to its users, effectively spreading out the expense of operating the network among all of its members worldwide, according to Brett Brewster, president and chief executive officer of BuildingReports.com. As the membership base grows, the cost is further reduced with increased usage resulting in lower pricing.

The differences between traditional desktop software and Web-based services are best understood using the mobile phone industry as a comparison. Imagine if the process of purchasing a new phone also required the purchase of the software needed to make the phone work. Instead of using a carrier’s existing wireless infrastructure as you would today, you have to install and maintain the servers, switches and wireless network needed to make calls, send e-mail or text messages. “When people buy a mobile phone, they expect it to ‘just work’ without having to provide and maintain the entire network infrastructure that makes it work,” said Brewster. “This is precisely what the Software as a Service business model provides; usage on demand at greatly reduced cost.” With this model, service companies only pay for what they use, another similarity to the mobile phone analogy.

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