Why Cloud Security Testing is Essential for Startups

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For Startups

Are you an early stage startup with co founders working and developing the product or have a small team of upto 5-10 developers focused on scaling? Here is what we expect you must be thinking when someone talks about TESTING…

  • Testing… our developers would do that in house
  • Testing… we are still developing, why do we need it now, maybe later
  • Testing… we need to cut the budget, testing is unaffordable at the moment
  • Testing… we don’t see any bugs in the application so far, don’t need that now
  • Testing… we are too occupied, don’t want to think about it right now

Well, all these thoughts are leading to a decreasing percentage of your success. Testing should not be considered an add on, rather an essential must do. Without quality, you can’t compete. Defective applications ruin your image and chances of success. And frankly, quality assurance is a mindset that needs to be established from start. And of course, you need to keep this activity unbiased and independent. A fresh mind can judge more accurately than the one iteratively looking into it. And testing is not too expensive either.

How Kualitatem Can Help You ?

Kualitatem, know your needs inside out and the experience has been established while working with dozens of startups. Kualitatem can provide you with:

  • Experienced test engineers at affordable cost
  • Independent test environment with already established platforms (hardware + software + configurations) for free
  • Test management and Bug management tools for free
  • High visibility into your application through established best practices
  • All the specialized testing needs at one place (functionality + performance + browser and platform compatibility etc)

Check out what few of our distinguished startups have to say about us:

Infused is a startup and Kualitatem has been working with us as our QA partners. They have helped us through setting up the automation testing framework using Selenium. Their attention to detail starting from selection of the right tool for automation and then implementing it , has helped us achieve our objectives. They have been flexible and very aware of our requirements as a startup which demands cost-effective implementation.We highly recommend Kualitatem for their services, especially to startups who are looking to deliver high quality products.

Michael Bender, CEO, Infused Industries

I have been working with Kualitatem since the summer of 2020 and they have consistently performed outstanding manual testing of our web application. As a startup, I never have sufficient resources to develop or properly test my application, so having an economical and independent QA team has been essential. Kualitatem has taken my woefully insufficient direction and management and has provided thorough and complete test plans and test cases and integrated easily with my developers. They are responsive and flexible with my constantly changing needs. Kualitatem is an outstanding value.

Developing an MVP for SaaS Startups: Technical Insights

Software as a Service (SaaS) has become an increasingly attractive and lucrative business model in recent years. The SaaS market is forecasted to reach $623 billion by 2023, with an annual growth rate of 18%. Top SaaS vendors include such big names as Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, and Salesforce.

With these numbers and market leaders, it’s hard for SaaS startups to get noticed and find customers. However, when a great idea is combined with the right technologies and tools, everything is possible.

Building a minimum viable product (MVP) for SaaS projects helps startups get their ideas out there quickly. With MVPs, SaaS startups can validate their ideas and get feedback in order to develop in the right direction. Even mature companies build MVPs to test their new product ideas.

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In this article, we explore what exactly an MVP is, how an MVP can help SaaS startups, and what you should keep in mind when developing one. This article will be interesting for those who are considering creating an MVP for their SaaS product and want as many insights as possible.

Market Research Specialist

What are MVPs for SaaS startups?

An MVP is a version of an application that only has features sufficient to satisfy its early users. Once the software development company receives and analyzes feedback from the product’s initial users, it can begin to design a full version of the application with a complete set of features.

While everyone knows what the term MVP stands for, there are still some common misconceptions. For instance, an MVP is often confused with a Proof of Concept (PoC) or a prototype. Let’s compare these deliverables to make sure that an MVP is exactly what your company needs:

Despite the simplicity of the concept, there’s no universal agreement as to what constitutes an MVP, especially in the SaaS world.

Some people think that prototypes can be considered MVPs if they’re able to attract investors or bring in leads. That’s certainly one way to validate an idea in the wild, but there are no guarantees that the market will give your idea the same positive feedback that investors do. Other people argue that the very term should be changed when it comes to the SaaS model, suggesting Minimum Valuable Product or Minimum Sellable Product as alternatives.

But no matter how we define it, an MVP has three key characteristics:

  • Provides enough value to make the target audience want to use and purchase the product
  • Demonstrates the product’s benefits to engage early adopters
  • Creates a feedback loop to get valuable information needed for future development

Your MVP should be developed with the specifics of your SaaS project in mind.

Now let’s explore the benefits of an MVP for SaaS startups.

How can a SaaS startup benefit from an MVP?

Developing an MVP is a great decision that helps you create your application faster, as you can work on a version of the product that only offers the most necessary functionality. Also, you get the chance to know what your target audience thinks of your product so you can adjust your plans to meet their needs.

Moreover, MVP development for SaaS projects is considered a low-risk investment, as you don’t put all your efforts and resources into developing a fully featured product right off the bat.

Let’s take a look at the top five benefits SaaS startups get when they create an MVP.

Prove the idea — SaaS products are often not trusted in their early stages of development. Proving the feasibility of a new concept with marketing materials alone isn’t enough to convince potential investors and users. An MVP is a functional model of the application. It’s the best way to show the potential of your product and prove its worthiness.

Probe the market — Being a complete and ready-to-use solution that has only a core feature set, an MVP offers a careful way to enter the market. It helps you check whether there will be enough demand for your solution, which is essential to know in the fast-growing SaaS market.

Reduce rework time — Building an MVP prevents your product from being cluttered, as it focuses on core functionality. When creating an MVP, you avoid time-consuming issues that often arise when developing fully featured products, therefore minimizing time spent on rework. Also, it’s much easier and faster to fix bugs in a small, simple application than in full-scale software.

Generate the first revenue — According to a 2020 conference paper by researchers at Tampere University, Finland, an MVP is “an offer that generates revenue for the company.” MVPs of SaaS startups are usually fully functional applications that meet the needs of early adopters, which is why they’re paid. Moreover, building a decent MVP is a great way to get funds from investors. Money raised thanks to the MVP launch can be used for further development of the full-featured product.

Receive the first feedback — You can create an MVP for SaaS software to gather feedback from users and adjust the application’s functionality to their demands. By being attentive to customers’ opinions, you have a better chance of developing a successful product.

Also, user feedback is important for detecting and fixing bugs faster. Such feedback can be gathered using a variety of methods such as polls and questionnaires, feedback forms, and opinions expressed by users on social networks and other sources.

Save money — When developing an MVP of your application, you only spend money on core functionality and don’t pay for secondary features or unnecessary design. You can plan additional features and user experience improvements at any time, but you’ll be able to decide whether they’re needed only after receiving feedback from users. Thus, you can save money on secondary efforts until you know for sure that they’re wanted by your users.

MVPs from a business standpoint

The definition of and budget for a SaaS MVP heavily depends on the business idea and the specific vision of the entrepreneur.

However, there are several practical tips that will be helpful for any MVP project to achieve the most business benefits:

One of the major mistakes with MVP development is waiting for the right time or spending too much time polishing and adding new features. Don’t treat an MVP as the full-blown product launch. You should instead think of it as version 0. Plan a short development cycle and take all the shortcuts available in order to validate your product idea with minimum investment.

  • Watch out for competitors

There are thousands of SaaS companies out there, so there’s a chance that someone has already tried to solve the same problem you’re working on or is just starting to do so. Explore similar startups and try to analyze their successes and failures to consider all the possible pitfalls. Use sources like Product Hunt and Crunchbase to look for direct and indirect competitors.

If you manage to sell your MVP, you’re likely to sell your complete SaaS solution in the future.

At the MVP stage, you have an opportunity to test various pricing models and selling techniques to find the most suitable ones. You can test which features should be added to the free trial or to the basic version of your MVP and which functionality should be implemented in paid versions.

You can run surveys, asking your target audience direct questions about whether they find the MVP expensive compared to similar products on the market. You can also offer a free trial period if customers choose the paid version.

  • Take your scope and cut it in half

Consider the minimum necessary requirements to successfully implement your product’s core idea. Once you have your scope ready, look at it again and think about how you can cut it in half. An MVP should be focused and distilled.

To prioritize features for your MVP, try to understand customer pain points. Create a detailed customer persona and focus on who your customers are, what challenges they have, and which features can meet those challenges.

You can also try the MoSCoW method to separate essential features from nonessential ones using a feature bucket with must-have, should-have, could-have, and won’t-have categories.

The perfect launch for an MVP is when your customers are satisfied and subscribe to your service. But this is rarely the case. Even if your MVP gathers negative feedback, it means that people care about the idea. They want a product based on this idea, and they want it made a certain way.

Such feedback is the perfect indicator of where to move next and how to develop your business. A much worse situation arises when you get no feedback at all. Perhaps it’s a sign for you to move on to the next project.

MVPs from a technical standpoint

Although there are many techniques and tools out there — both paid and free — to help you create an MVP for your SaaS startup, there are still a lot of challenges on the technical side of things. This is why the majority of successful SaaS projects are created with the help of outsourcing companies like Apriorit that have experience creating custom SaaS products.

However, the accessibility of the SaaS model for business owners doesn’t necessarily mean that every SaaS project will be a success. Success depends not only on the quality of your idea and the set of features you provide but also on the technical decisions you make.

There are some must-have technical components for any SaaS MVP. For instance, you should decide on the architecture at the early stages of development. Design and use the “final” architecture even in your MVP. Reworking your architecture later is painful and time-consuming.

Let’s explore some other must-have technical qualities in detail.

The first thing you need to do when building a SaaS solution is make sure your customers feel secure using it — especially when you’re using cloud services. If your system is gathering and processing personal data, you need to make sure that only the minimum required data is collected and that it’s thoroughly protected.

Data protection for SaaS solutions should respond to both external and internal risks. Protect data from unauthorized access from the outside and guarantee that users won’t be able to access the data of other users. Techniques you may want to use here are multi-factor authentication, encryption, multi-tenancy, and separate databases for each user.

SaaS systems are created to service a huge number of users, and this should be reflected in the architecture, even at the MVP stage. If your software instance is designed to handle a certain number of users, then you need to plan your actions in case this number is exceeded.

A solution to this issue — for example, using multiple instances of software when capacity is exceeded — should be built into the software architecture, making your SaaS project inherently scalable. By planning the scalability of the application at the early MVP stage, you save yourself from troubles and extra expenses later.

Users need to feel comfortable using your SaaS solution. Additional features and visual design are critical factors, but when it comes to an MVP, they’re becoming less important. Many users will be able to overlook GUI flaws and the absence of basic features if the project is focused and answers their needs.

However, one thing people will not be able to overlook is performance. You need to create a fast and responsive system capable of reacting to user actions in a psychologically comfortable 300 milliseconds or less. In some cases, heavy optimization will be required, but this is one area where you shouldn’t cut corners, even for an MVP.

What technical insights should you consider when developing a SaaS MVP?

When developing an MVP for a SaaS application, you should try to make it fast and economical — but this is often hard to achieve. Ambitious ideas mix poorly with limited budgets, and as a result, many startups struggle to put even a minimum viable product together.

Here are some methods to consider when trying to make SaaS MVP development easier, quicker, and more affordable:

  • Use languages for fast prototyping

Programming languages such as Ruby, PHP, and Python allow for fast development and are widely used to create quick prototypes. The main disadvantage of creating solutions with these languages is that such solutions don’t scale very well, and it may be impossible to get the necessary performance out of them. More complex languages and commercial frameworks, such as ASP.NET, will give you better control and better performance with high loads but require much more time and experience to work with.

If you choose to deliver your SaaS MVP to market faster with fast prototyping languages, be ready to spend additional resources later to scale your solution. Using tools like ASP.NET can take more time and resources at the MVP stage, but when implemented by experienced developers, they can save resources during the further development stages.

Open-source software can be a cheap and effective way to implement features, but this approach has its own limitations. The main downsides to open-source software are lack of documentation, a high risk of multiple unknown bugs, limited backward compatibility, and no guaranteed support for older versions. As a result, open-source solutions may even prove more expensive than commercial solutions if you don’t have enough experience working with them.

However, if a developer knows all the ins and outs of open-source software, it can be a great money saver at the beginning of the project. After your product moves past the MVP stage, it may be wise to replace open-source bits with commercial products.

  • Use available solutions

There’s no need to write common modules and features yourself. Features such as payment processing, usage statistics, and support chat can be resource-consuming to create from scratch.

There are a lot of solutions that are already available for a moderate price. Integrating as many of them as you can into your MVP will help you save time, money, and effort that can be focused on implementing your own unique ideas.

Commercial databases are reliable, well-supported, documented, and can accommodate a large number of users. It’s paramount to use a commercial database when creating an application designed for millions of users. However, when you make an MVP for a startup, chances are you won’t have that much data at the first stages. If you aren’t expecting a huge influx of users on your first day, you can use free databases such as MySQL.

When your number of users grows to the point where a free database isn’t sufficient, you’ll be able to migrate to something commercial such as MS SQL or Oracle, but note that this migration will inevitably incur additional costs.

  • Consider reasonable load testing

Load testing is designed to assess how the system will behave under peak loads and extreme conditions. Even if you plan to accommodate millions of users in the long run, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get this many initially.

When you develop a SaaS MVP, you should gauge the potential number of users you’ll be able to get immediately and test for that number. Load testing is the most expensive type of testing, and pushing these tests back to when you actually need the capacity is an excellent way to cut costs.

Conclusion

Whether you’re going to build an MVP for a B2B SaaS project or any other type of project, a minimum viable product is a great way to start in this rapidly growing market.

Although creating an MVP requires less development time than creating the full version of your application, you’ll still have to focus on planning and market research. Moreover, lots of technical issues have to be considered at the early stages of development to eliminate the need for architectural adjustments that may arise in the future and steal both time and resources.

At Apriorit, we have vast experience developing SaaS platforms that focus on customers’ business goals and show high performance. Our experts are ready to start discussing your ambitious startup project and help you create a successful product.

The Wider Implications of DevOps for Operational Effectiveness in Startups

Learning DevOps is essential for startups just entering the market. See why the benefits of DevOps are especially important for new businesses.

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In today’s digital-first world, a startup’s operations, including procurement, marketing, production, and selling, is strongly based on big data and digital communication.

That being said, failure to adjust with the times is a surefire way to be left in the dust. DevOps can be an influential factor in streamlining technology-dependent processes from A to Z. This refers to the cross-disciplinary practice of constructing, growing, and managing a plethora of rapidly-evolving systems.

DevOps offers startups and small organizations the benefit of a fully automated delivery pipeline. This translates to pushing products and features to the market quickly and reduce feedback times – something Eric Ries terms the “Build-Measure-Learn” in his book Lean Startup.

Studies have found that DevOps-led projects can result in a 15-20% acceleration in the time taken to deliver capabilities to customers. At the end of the day, this kind of efficiency doesn’t just acquire new business, it keeps customers coming back.

Here are several reasons why your operational strategy needs DevOps.

Quick Identification of Systemic Problems

One of the greatest aspects of DevOps is the ability to pinpoint underlying issues before they turn into full-blown disasters. DevOps works to the reveal potential systemic problems before they even see the light of day.

If you sell something online, DevOps can be instrumental in identifying certain snags within your inventory management, payment processing, or shipping processes. For instance, a lot of e-commerce startups use Shopify to manage every aspect of retail themselves, from managing inventory, to order tracking to refunds, by gathering, using and integrating data from POS systems. You can use historical data on buyer behavior, customer profiles, and staff activity to predict your ability to meet seasonal uptrends in sales and shore up your readiness.

For B2B businesses facing problems related to lead qualification, CRM, onboarding, or anything that might be slowing down the efficiency of the product lifecycle, a reliable DevOps methodology can be instrumental to ensuring a healthy bottom line. The DevOps approach gives the development team the ability to seamlessly receive feedback from the operations or IT teams throughout the entire development and implementation process.

Many problems in making the sale are a result of underlying pain points within the system. Implementing a DevOps procedure is one of the best ways for businesses to consistently adapt their strategy and operations to the evolving market.

Improved Collaboration

As many will attest, client communication is a multi-faceted entity – to say the least. It involves capitalizing on opportunities presented through both inbound and outbound marketing, sales, big data analytics, and more. In many cases, the entire process involves a great deal of interdepartmental collaboration, especially given the growing number of globally-distributed teams.

Business, in general, can be thought of as a constant game of working to improve operational efficiencies. These days, this concept involves many different factors from system development, testing, business analysis, etc. in relation to the ever-present goal of reducing overheads.

The concept of DevOps was formulated with an emphasis on collaboration and reducing gaps between development and IT. Incorporating a DevOps setup in your operational strategy can be a game changer for ensuring precious opportunities do not slip away. For this reason, all teams involved must collaborate on an agile, day-to-day workflow.

Fortunately, task management tools like Asana make this easy. By way of a single and central dashboard, all teams involved in product development or campaign execution can be on the same page throughout the entirety of the project.

Each miscalculation or lapse in communication can be detrimental to your business goals. Project management and collaboration tools ensure an incredibly reliable process that will keep everyone in sync when it comes to timelines, real-time progress reports, and appropriately balancing workloads across departments. Asana is designed to be overly-simple to adopt in organizations of any size.

When it comes to operational effectiveness leading to profits, your results are closely tied to the internal system you have in place.

Metric-Centered Decisions

One of the foundational aspects of DevOps is it strongly encourages businesses to track operational metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) of their objectives. Given that the world is becoming increasingly reliant on data-driven insights, a DevOps function is more than just a flashy component of business; it’s quickly becoming a full-on requirement.

For a DevOps setup to deliver to the fullest of its capability, scaling metrics such as user growth rates, conversions, cost of customer acquisition, transaction frequency, and total time spent in the application need to be accurately measured.

Metrics are essential to the software development process and help guide its direction and make the necessary adjustments to ensure seamless team collaboration across the board.

For business owners, more than likely, this process is directly tied to your vision. Big data, AI, automation, Agile, and DevOps are by no means entry-level concepts. On the surface level, knowing how certain metrics apply to application development can be tough to understand.

For owners operating in the current tech-dominated business landscape, a firm foundation in the basics of DevOps is just a few clicks (and hours) away. Online learning platform Zeolearn offers a hands-on certification course with training sessions guided by DOI-certified trainers, which might be useful to professionals in multiple roles in the tech sector, including project managers, testers, and software architects.

Product managers, especially need to learn how to how to cut through the clutter of process complexity, and get a hands-on understanding of how first-party metrics can be used to streamline operations with a myriad of useful tools. This will help them implement a good DevOps setup, as well as how to administer the proper fixes as needed.

In order to stay competitive today’s marketplace, incorporating sales and revenue metrics into DevOps is essential for continuous growth.

Better Security

It’s no secret that cybersecurity is one of the biggest concerns looming over modern-day businesses. It seems like there are new sets of threats that present themselves every day.

When handling customer data, businesses need to base their approach on safety. Hackers are constantly working to find loopholes and workarounds that give them access to valuable information on both companies and their customers.

Keeping this in mind, one of the best things business owners can do is integrate cybersecurity and DevOps as a unified system. This process requires a great deal of technical matchmaking expertise.

On a basic level, DevOps is all about creating new, innovative opportunities. On the other hand, cybersecurity is all about restricting access to ensure safety. While these two concepts may seem contradictory to each other, both work to build metrics that meet a certain threshold of quality with regard to UX and reliability. In turn, the end result is to keep customers happy.

While cyber danger keeps coming at us at light speed, integrating DevOps and security to work as a single unit is vital to improving operational efficiency while keeping them safe.

DevOps-related security strategies are far from black and white. Start by assessing your needs in both areas and formulate a sustainable plan that can be realistically executed.

In Conclusion

Proper assimilation of DevOps and operations can significantly contribute to business success. Agile and efficient processes driven by data are becoming the gold standard in running and growing startups. If done correctly, the results can deliver solutions much quicker with far fewer defects.

Nearly every business across all industries stand to benefit from this concept. If you haven’t already, don’t waste any more time in researching a strategy that works harmoniously with your short-term operations as well as long-term goals.

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