Accreditations are useful in several ways for SaaS providers. Firstly they are a good way to reassure customers of the security and availability of a service and secondly, they encourage users to trust in your application, infrastructure and procedures. Above all, accreditation gives you credibility.
So when is the best time to start working towards accreditation?
For some industries, certification is a legal or contractual requirement. Some companies won’t consider working with a SaaS provider unless it has attained all accreditations applicable to its service. In some circumstances therefore, by not holding relevant certifications, you could be missing out on potential business.
However there is little evidence that rushing to gain all relevant certifications at once is the right thing to do. When trying to become a more attractive proposition for potential clients, a structured approach is far more sensible.
A staggered approach can significantly improve the overall running of your SaaS business and allow you to remain focussed on providing an excellent service. This is because obtaining accreditations can be complex, time-consuming and all-encompassing and can drain resources and shift focus away from your primary business goals.
So you should try to attain certifications as soon as you can but not to the point of jeopardising the level of service you provide.
Which accreditation should you aim for first? Not all SaaS certifications are born equal. To choose effectively you should consider four key criteria:
- The programme is collaborative, valid and uses relevant standards
- Accreditation is favourably received by SaaS users
- Your company is capable of embracing the accreditation guidelines
- Accreditation is appropriately aligned and supported by relevant initiatives
Making sure that your company prioritises the accreditations that best satisfy these criteria will ensure business focus is maintained and rewards are maximised.
For SaaS companies, it is sensible to prioritise certifications which focus predominantly on cloud-related and/or security requirements. Two accreditations that match this description are ISO 27001 and ISO 27018.
The ISO 27001 standard is intended to help your company keep information entrusted to you from third parties safe and secure, and ISO 27018 provides guidelines to safeguard sensitive, personal data in cloud environments.
As we’ve already said staggering your approach to accreditation attainment is best practice, but there are certain instances where achieving certifications to a timescale is necessary.
In the case of selling a business, many buyers will request that all relevant accreditations are held before the sale is completed. In instances such as this it makes sense to begin working toward accreditation as soon as the decision has been made to sell, rather than waiting for a buyer and having a smaller window of opportunity to get things in order.
This is also true if the business is involved in a merger or is itself making an acquisition. Making sure that all companies hold the same relevant certifications will not only help to reduce headaches but will simplify future marketing campaigns.
Deciding when to seek accreditation is not an exact science. It is often the case that businesses will want to check your certifications before choosing whether or not to work with you.
That said, trying to attain several at once will be disruptive and could end in failure. Prioritising which certifications will be most beneficial and then using a staggered approach will enable your business to gain the relevant accreditation whilst ensuring that focus is maintained upon customer service and business objectives.