There are lots of different ‘as a service’ solutions in the market. The three main groups in cloud computing are software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Then there are the more specific types such as games as a service, data as a service, or even metal as a service. That last one doesn’t involve a truck dumping a few tons of steel rebar at your front door; it refers to the provisioning of hyperscale computer environments in conjunction with IaaS.
If you’ve been following our advice by a) building out your technology stack to make your business more efficient and effective, and b) using outsourced services to deliver non-core specialist requirements, there’s another ‘as a service’ you should be aware of: business process as a service (BPaaS). BPaaS is a form of business process outsourcing (BPO) that uses the cloud computing service model. It will usually use automation to cut costs and be billed as a recurring monthly fee.
The ‘as a service’ model
All these acronyms may be starting to merge together in your mind. Let’s take a moment to review them so we have a better understanding of how they fit together in a well-planned system:
IaaS provides pay-as-you-go storage, networking, firewalls, load balancers, and virtualisation resources. The infrastructure may be physical or (usually) virtual.
Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine.
IaaS usually sits at the bottom of your computing stack (unless you also use on-premise resources).
PaaS provides a computing platform primarily used by developers to build software or applications. PaaS generally includes an operating system, programming language, databases, web server, and execution environment.
Examples: AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Windows Azure, and Apache Stratos.
PaaS sits above IaaS in your computing stack.
SaaS provides out-of-the-box solutions. You can usually access the software from any device connected to the internet. With SaaS products, you can give access to team members individually, with different access levels.
Examples: Google Apps, Salesforce, and Microsoft 365.
SaaS sits above PaaS in your computing stack.
As you can see, BPaaS is distinct from these because it involves the delivery of a skilled service, but without the allocation of a specific labour pool per client. As the client, you will access this outsourced process using internet technology such as a web browser and/or mobile app.
Examples of BPaaS might be payroll management, accounting, ecommerce, or managed services.
BPaaS sits at the top of your computing stack.
The benefits of BPaaS
Move from CAPEX to OPEX
A big benefit of using BPaaS is that it allows you to move away from capital expenditure (CAPEX) to operational expenditure (OPEX) as you expand your business. Implementing a new business process in-house requires a lot of capital; for example, hardware, software, salaries, office space, and other tangible or intangible resources. With BPaaS, you can substitute this hefty outlay for more flexible operational expenses (for example, a fixed fee per user per month).
Get more for less
Using BPaaS isn’t just about facilitating the move from CAPEX to OPEX, because this remote delivery model is also cheaper. You’ll get a good quality service delivered by specialists in the area for much less than the cost of implementing the capability in-house. You can plan ahead for this expenditure and know exactly how much it will cost to scale as your business grows.
Another benefit is the ease of use. This kind of service is fast to initiate because you don’t have to spend months – or even years – creating a new internal function, scoping it out, preparing for it, finding the capital to fund it, and hiring the employees to make it happen. There is very little disruption to the business. You can also test-drive a few different providers until you find the right fit. Once the capability is deployed, you can require more or less of the service as your needs dictate, giving you maximum flexibility.
Fast, quality service
You can expect quality gains when you use a BPaaS solution, as with any outsourced solution. For one thing, you are accessing a pool of experts with a wide range of experience and skills, which will lead to better project outcomes. You’ll also get results faster – when you have employees, it takes a month for them to deliver a month’s worth of output, but with BPaaS you could have all those hours of output delivered within days. This fast, high-quality service makes your business more agile and minimises risk.
Yet another benefit is that you get the most out of your technology when using BPaaS. You may have excellent tools at your disposal, but if your employees don’t know how to use them properly, you will be missing out. Your BPaaS provider will be able to ensure that your technology stack is optimised, upgrade features or integrations when needed, and identify where you could solve business issues with better systems or alternative technologies. The technology layer will facilitate transparency, so that you have visibility over the service and can measure its impact.
Diversify your offer
Finally, if it fits with your operating model, you can use BPaaS solutions to increase or diversify your own service offering. This could help you move into a new market or vertical with very little risk. There are probably services that aren’t part of your core offering but complement it perfectly. By combining them, you can deliver more value to your client base for minimal effort. Or, if you outsource to a provider in a different time zone, you could enable out-of-hours capability to deliver a 24-hour service without any increase in costs.
BPaaS may feel like just another buzzword, but it is an important categorisation to understand if you are building a productive technology stack for your business.