I’ve been asked this question 4 times this month already – and the simple answer is that museums, like all other organisations, should focus on what they do – not on software maintenance.
Of course, there is always some context to such questions, so here is some perspective. Typically, many museums, when they ask such a question, think about external funding from governmental organisations to start digitising their collections and feel that they may not be able to get funding to rent a SaaS application to document, archive and digitise their collections. Whilst that may be true in some cases, it is 2012 and such funders and funding organisations need to get with the plan. If they want museums to get more mileage for their money, in majority of the cases, SaaS makes perfect sense – financially and technologically. In my experience, it is simply a matter of communicating this to the funding organisation. At the end of the day, funders want museums to get the most from their investment, not to acquire something that they own and which will become redundant in a short period of time and may require expensive maintenance.
By choosing SaaS to document their collections, museums are, in essence, hiring an external company to build, operate and maintain a system for them — letting the provider make the investments in equipment and software, as well as staff needed to operate the software and related hardware. SaaS vendors like Vesica will deploy, maintain, update, and optimise your collection management applications, along with providing the infrastructure required to run them, while you maintain complete control over your applications and data.
Why should a museum choose a SaaS model? To enhance the user experience, gain remote access, attain service guarantees, achieve compliance, and off-load the many IT responsibilities that aren’t core components of their operation. Spreading infrastructure, development, maintenance, and future innovation costs across a broad base of users and museums means that you can access tools available to large museums tools that would otherwise be out of reach. SaaS essentially allows museums to take advantage of the “pay as you go” model, freeing more time, money and resources for productive tasks. Finally, SaaS applications can be be affordable for smaller museums too. Unlike typical software, SaaS applications require little or no investment and do not tie museums in to long term commitments.
Blackbaud, a SaaS provider of fundraising / CRM software for charities and nonprofits, has a wonderful whitepaper on the benefits of SaaS. To sum up the 7 big benefits Blackbaud mentions:
- Little or no upfront investment
- Reliable cost forecasting – affordable and fixed subscription fee model
- No extras needed – no need to purchase new or proprietary software or hardware
- Up-to-date technology – SaaS vendors keep your applications up-to-date – it’s how they keep your business, year on year
- Security and reliability – SaaS vendors maintain compliant, secure, sophisticated and high-capacity infrastructure which becomes available to you without any extra cost
- Remote access – as long as you there is an internet connection, your staff can access the service
- Scalability – SaaS apps are flexible and and can help you grow quickly, typically with a few clicks or a phone call – without having to buy additional expensive hardware or software
Still have questions? Our team is here to help – so comment away!