My love affair with SaaS

I started what is now Craft Academy, in April 2015 and I have since then been totally devoted to making this company a success. In order to let the world know how awesome we are, allow our customers to sign up for our courses, deliver good quality and get paid, we rely on a palette of tools that have one thing in common: they are all cloud based and they all run on a Software as a Service license model.

Well, most of them anyway.

“SaaS removes the need for organizations to install and run applications on their own computers or in their own data centers. This eliminates the expense of hardware acquisition, provisioning and maintenance, as well as software licensing, installation and support.” http://searchcloudcomputing.techtarget.com/definition/Software-as-a-Service

Craft Academy is in the business of changing lives and empowering people. We help individuals that want to shift careers to get their first job as junior developers and aspiring tech entrepreneurs to learn how to build their digital services or products.

We are however NOT in the business of accounting, invoicing, messaging, code hosting, digital signatures, social networking, maintaining word processing, spreadsheets and presentation software, etc. Yet doing all that is essential for our primary business and we need tools that helps us to provide the best possible service to our clients.

The many SaaS and other cloud based services powering Craft Academy

Let me quickly list the services that are essential for our day-to-day operations (feel free to skip this part).

  • G Suite— for email, calendar, document sharing, etc. Couldn’t do much without it.
  • Typeform — for course applications.
  • Slack — internal communication — basically our virtual office where we talk shop but also socialize (a bit geeky, I know).
  • GitHub — for so many things that it would take to long to list.
  • Billogram — for invoicing and tracking of payments.
  • eGreement — for signing of digital documents (course registration forms and other legal documents).
  • HubSpot — our CRM, who do we do business with?
  • MailChimp — for newsletters.
  • Doorbell.io — for customer support.
  • Digital Ocean — for cloud computing and hosting services.
  • Heroku — for staging apps.
  • Marginalen Bank — for online based banking services.
  • Open EdX — self hosted Learning Management System and content studio for creating and managing our bootcamp.
  • Visma Ekonomi —for accounting.
  • SemaphoreCI — for continious integration and deployment.
  • TravisCI — for continious integration and deployment.
  • Coveralls — for code coverage

Have I missed something? Oh yeah, we use Amazon Web Services for storage and Zapier for managing integrations between most of the above mentioned services.

I love the … as a Service model. Whether it’s Software, Platform or Infrastructure. Making use of cloud based services has made it possible for us to develop our business by cutting costs and lead times. We have not spent thousands of $$ and we are up and running quickly. As our business model evolves we can take away or add new services.

Now, imagine a start-up like ours implementing something like SAP or some other ERP system. We would probably, more than 1 year in, still be stuck in endless meetings with overpriced consultants, defining requirements and most likely be broke.

Our current palette of tools might seem extensive but it lets ut to focus on the core parts of our business and not on setting up and maintaining software and run servers. It covers every area of our operations and gives us a capability to manage financial, asset, and cost accounting, production operations and materials, personnel, documents, etc.

Software as a Service solutions gives us flexibility to always be able to use the best tool for the right task and ensure that we can respond to change.