Software as a Service, often referred to as SaaS, is a modern-day equivalent of providing services to customers but without actually providing them with the software itself.
This is a common method of service delivery, and one which is generally priced very well by many of the players in the market. It scales and benefits from having the software in a central location without the added overhead of having to manage software upgrades, bugs, fixes etc, whilst having a community of users to report problems.
We beta-tested the ManageWP SaaS which allows secure and centralised management of multiple WordPress sites. Indeed, we also blogged about it a while back. We contributed to the development cycle, posted in the forums and eagerly anticipated the formal release of this fabulous product – as we wanted to include it as a service for our WordPress customers.
Unfortunately, this has become a prime example of where overpricing SaaS has forced individuals and small businesses completely out of the market 🙁
The pricing structure – which please remember is pre-release and not the price customers will pay from January onwards – is being discussed in detail on some of the ManageWP pages that have been published leading up to the release here and here. Even with a 30% lifetime discount for beta-testers combined with either a 1 or 2 year subscription which then includes further discounts, it’s out of the reach of us, as we can’t – and won’t – pass on this sort of additional cost to our customers.
Take the following examples :
- You’re an individual running between 5 and 10 WordPress sites for your friends and you’ve been using ManageWP as a beta-tester for a few months – it saves you time and allows you to update all the sites at once. You’d like to take advantage of some, but not all the functionality, so you opt for the professional package. Taking out a 2 year subscription with your 30% lifetime discount will still cost you $11.76 a month – but this must be paid as $282.24 in advance. Oh – and they don’t accept Paypal yet, so you won’t be able to set up a subscription.
- A small and growing business such as ourselves, you run and manage 80 WordPress instances for your customers. You charge them between £50 and £75 a year for their domain name, hosting and management of their WordPress site. For two years with all relevant discounts this would mean an additional cost of $67.20 a month, which equates to $1612.80 payable in advance.
The numbers just don’t scale, there are no options to pay monthly, and it smacks very much of a company trying to immediately recoup their development costs, but this is almost certainly going to backfire because they will lose all the smaller customers that have already become used to using their software. Those individuals or businesses will simply go back to doing it the manual way, or by using alternative plugins or services which are out there but admittedly not as clean, slick, or functional as ManageWP.
For us, it is a bitter disappointment, and the complaints from beta-testers are falling on the deaf ears of ManageWP. We would have almost certainly become loyal and long-term users of this product and passed on the functionality and benefits to our customers. But for the moment, we’ll be abstaining. Or at least until the ManageWP team hopefully wake up and smell the coffee that is slowly being brewed by the hundreds of “fans” that had already been using their SaaS in a beta capacity.