Sunday, January 25, 2009

SAAS/ASP vs In House implementation

Every company that wants to implement a Trade Compliance application is trying to decide if it wants to implement an standalone version behind it's own firewall or use a software as a service
vendor or Application Service Provider vendor to host a solution outside it's firewall. I am sure this is even more relevant today with companies trying to be as cost conscious as possible. There is potentially a trade off between cost and risk. Here are some major areas to consider while making this decision:

1) How large are your volumes? If you are a medium/large company that has many millions of transactions a year it may make sense to look more closely at the in house solution. This is
because your fixed costs of hardware, software and support personnel will diminish as volumes
increase. I believe the sliding scale pricing model that ASP/SAAS vendors provide can prove to be more expensive than an in house implementation.

2) How many applications does your company run in house? If your company runs many applications then the support personnel you hire can be leveraged for your in house TC application. They will have experience in the physical architecture that your company prefers and assuming your TC application has a similar architecture they will be able to easily support it and keep it up to corporate standards.

3) How specialized are your requirements? If your TC requirements are very specialized it is possible the vendor will need to write a lot of custom code to support it. In this case it may make sense to take a closer look at an in house implementation. This will enable better control of the code and may also help in easy modification of it as there will be less reliance on vendor resources. Also if you are in a rapidly changing compliance requirement that requires you to change custom code it may make sense to have your implementation in house and have
a few dedicated in house resources rather than trying to bank on vendor resources.

4) How protective are you about your data? TC transaction data can have sensitive customer and pricing information. Regardless of the physical and electronic security your ASP/SAAS vendor may provide I think a corporate firewall and corporate physical security can be better monitored and remedied. Better safe than sorry!

5) Will my old data be readily available? Once the volume of transaction data becomes high some of the data may be archived to help improve with performance of the application. While working with an ASP/SAAS provider you must be comfortable that the data which will be archived will be readily available for viewing and reporting be it for an internal or external audit.

I hope this post gives you a good framework to make a decision between SAAS and in house implementations.