The technology options available today for managing workflow and digital assets come in many shapes and sizes. One of the more intriguing options today is the ability to essentially "rent" an application by using a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution. In the past few years more types of applications have become available which are hosted off-site and accessed via the web. In more recent times, the growth of cloud computing has provided a whole new way of looking at hosted services. This approach is being embraced by many IT departments as a way to add new applications without investing in infrastructure and the costs involved with software licenses and implementation; it's equally embraced by the creative team as a way to get up and running with workflow and digital asset management technologies without getting in line with all of the other IT priorities.

Software as a Solution can be a compelling option in the following scenarios:

Small Organization with limited IT infrastructure, or independent agency--This is a great opportunity to have high-powered functionality without the upfront costs of installing systems in house. A small organization may also find that the lower-end SaaS applications still have all the functionality that is currently needed by your organization. An example might be a simple project management tool to help with scheduling your projects. There are many solutions available today with that basic capability that can be "rented" on a per-seat basis that is very reasonable. These solutions are often extensible to include other functionality such as collaboration and time tracking modules. This is also true for digital asset management systems. Many of these offer excellent metadata configuration tools, search capabilities and even image conversion on the fly for converting image formats and resolutions for specific applications. The downside is that these solutions are typically not customizable, though many can be configured to meet more diverse needs.

Mid-level in-house creative services organization--This is a situation where the more powerful SaaS solutions can provide full functionality without the need for upfront software and server purchases. In the past these solutions might have met resistance from IT, but that attitude is changing due to the maturity of SaaS solutions. With this approach, a mid-level organization may have access to high-powered functionality previously only available from locally installed software.

Large in-house marketing communications organization--This may be a situation where a locally installed system is truly the best approach due to the size of the organization, the breadth of the solution and the need for a more customized solution. But a SaaS solution may still play a role. I've seen a few situations where it was very appropriate to use a SaaS solution to meet short-term needs and to test out some basic functionality of automated workflow or digital asset management prior to implementing a full-scale enterprise marketing solution. It's a great way to get your department started with a technology solution without waiting for the enterprise approach, which can be a long time coming.

The world of technology solutions for creative services is evolving every day. One of the major roadblocks can be the IT department's queue or capital funding for upfront purchases. SaaS solutions may be an answer for you organization. Cella Consulting can help you examine the options and find the right fit for you, today and for the future.