In the world of website content management, it seems that SaaS systems (Software-as-a-Service) are often overlooked by smaller organizations. This may be due, in part, to the fact that most web development companies often work with a limited number of content management solutions. Consider that many smaller shops are likely to utilize open-source platforms (Think: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.) to stay competitive. And the ease of deployment combined with the availability of inexpensive, ready-to-go themes can make open-source solutions an attractive solution for small to medium-sized businesses.

But the lure of “free software” can sometimes mask the reality of the on-going maintenance challenges many open-source systems bring. The numerous updates and security issues can present expensive and often, unexpected headaches for businesses that don’t employ an internal IT staff. While many open-source solutions provide a lot of flexibility, customized apps and plugins can fail with each new software update or patch — which tend to occur often.

Don’t misunderstand. Many of the open-source systems are great products that offer tremendous value — to a certain market. Unfortunately, many are often sold as the end-all, be-all. And that’s not the case for any content management system.

Software as a Service

The idea of Software-as-a-Service is nothing new; its benefits have been well-known in the Information Technology (IT) space for years. Why? Well, SaaS typically offers a lower cost of entry, speed of implementation, and pre-installed software with automatic updates. And small to medium-sized business are perfect candidates for SaaS adoption as most have little or no IT staff.

Some of the most successful implementations of SaaS have been in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) arena with products such as Salesforce and Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM. Even large, enterprise organizations who have previously utilized on-premise versions of CRM are moving to SaaS versions. And consider that consumers have been using SaaS products for many years; Google Apps and Apple’s iCloud are just a couple of examples.

But where SaaS platforms really shine is in the area of security. With most SaaS content management systems, hosting is part of the deal, meaning that the software is maintained by the SaaS provider. In most cases, this model offers end-users limited control of a system’s core functionality, helping to insure the security of its crucial data.

Conversely, most open-source solutions are, well, open-source. And nearly all require a hosting platform, many of which end up in a shared-server environment, which can further expose your business data. Even WordPress offers a Cloud-based, SaaS-like version, touting scalability and security as its key features.

The Takeaway

The decision-making process for determining the proper content management system for your organization’s website is dependent on many variables. Determine what your business wants to achieve then, partner with a knowledgeable consultant who will help you find the right tool to help you to get there. Just remember that there isn’t one solution that will work for every business, in every situation. And keep in mind that maintenance, security, and long-term costs are often lost in the conversation by what may appear to be “free” software.