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How to choose the right software model for your real estate business

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What’s the difference between SaaS and on-premise software models?

There are thousands of digital solutions out there. But there are two basic software models you need to know about: on-premise software that’s locally available and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) that’s device-independent and accessed in the cloud. Think of it like the difference between installing Microsoft Word or Excel on your home computer vs. using Google Docs or Sheets to write and edit your documents from anywhere, on any device.

On-premise software

On-premise software is installed and operated in-house, on a company’s own hardware and servers. Users access it from devices (like office computers) on the company server using a desktop application or in their web browser.

While it’s possible to make on-premise software accessible over the internet, it’s expensive to set up, support and keep secure long-term – so for most companies, it’s only accessible in the office.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Software-as-a-Service is software that’s available via the internet in the cloud. The idea is that software is not purchased, but ‘rented’. Users can access it from any internet-enabled device via their internet browser or an app.

This means you can choose who has access to your documents and data, regardless of their location.

Traditional on-premise software

Important: With on-premise software, you are responsible for every aspect of your system. From servers and hardware to security and software development.

Examples of on-premise software include traditional office packages like Microsoft Office Suite and Adobe Creative Suite. You buy the software, install it in-house and pay a license fee (usually lifetime but sometimes recurring) per user or device.

If you do choose on-premise software, it’s important to check if the company’s existing IT infrastructure meets the requirements to support it.

Modern Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

Unlike on-premise software, all the technical infrastructure is handled by the SaaS provided, so companies don’t need to buy and maintain their own servers and hardware infrastructure – all you need is an end device like a laptop, phone or tablet.

Examples of popular SaaS products in the UK include Google Drive and Microsoft’s Office 365. You sign up, pay a subscription fee and log in from any device. Most SaaS providers offer flexible pricing plans based on your usage, number of users or the features you need.

If you want to give all the different stakeholders involved in your real estate projects access to the same software, SaaS is the most secure and convenient way to do that.

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) On-Premise software
Upfront Cost Low upfront costs. Companies pay a subscription fee to ‘rent’ the software and users can access it right away. High upfront costs. Companies have to invest in their own servers and hardware infrastructure, plus have an internal or third-party IT team to set up and maintain the system.
Access Users can log in securely from any device without access to the company network. Everyone involved in a project can have access to the latest data anytime, anywhere. This creates transparency and prevents misunderstandings. Perfect for remote working. Users can only access the software from local devices, like office computers, or with access to the company network.
Data Storage All data is stored in the cloud and can only be accessed with an internet connection. Local data storage means that data is accessible on-site even if the internet fails.
Automatic software updates Yes. The provider is responsible for all software updates and security patches. Plus, SaaS software is constantly being developed so customers always work with the latest version. No. Companies are responsible for their own software updates. An in-house or third-party IT team is needed to plan and manage software updates, security patches and other maintenance, and to ensure these are carried out in a timely manner to keep the system operating safely.
Outages The provider is responsible for fixing any system outages or security breaches. Because they have to protect their customer’s data and their own reputation, SaaS providers tend to leverage large teams and the latest technology and resolve issues as quickly as possible. Companies are responsible for detecting and fixing any system outages or security breaches and getting the system back up and running. This can be handled by the in-house IT team or a third-party support contractor. How quickly issues are resolved can vary greatly depending on the severity of the incident and the experience, resources and capacity of the IT team.
Scalability and flexibility Easy to scale due to flexible pricing models with short contracts. Subscriptions are usually based on usage, feature set or number of users with the option to upgrade for more space, users, features, etc. To downgrade, you might have to wait until the end of your current contract term. More difficult to scale as more effort is required by IT teams to plan, implement and oversee changes without interrupting business operations. Hard to move away from due to high upfront costs and long support and maintenance contracts. Can be cost-effective for extremely high-growth companies with an established on-premise system.
Data security and backups Guaranteed by the software provider. Companies are responsible for their own backups and data security and need teams to do this.
Usability Modern and intuitive user interfaces that are easy to use. No learning curve, quick adoption. Depends on the user interface the company has built. But companies tend to update them less often because development work is expensive, so teams often make do with old interfaces that are clunky and difficult to navigate.
Customisation Options are determined by the provider and, in most cases, customers pick and choose from a feature set. But most SaaS software is already designed to serve a specific industry or niche and will come with all the features you need. If you’re missing a function that the provider doesn’t offer, it’s usually easy to integrate with other systems.  Highly customisable because 100% of the infrastructure is in the company’s hands. But companies have to invest in development and rigorous testing to add functionality. This makes on-premise attractive to companies with good budgets and large IT departments that need very specific functionality.
Integrations Easy to connect to other tools, apps and software via open interfaces (API). Connecting to other tools is possible but every integration requires coding.
Workflows Previously complex processes are automated. This accelerates internal workflows and saves a lot of time. Expensive to build, adjust and automate workflows so most companies stick with existing (often manual) processes.


Compared to old-school on-premise software, using SaaS software like Alasco to manage your real estate projects gives your teams access to configurable workflows and simple automation. This optimises and speeds up internal workflows and processes, whether they involve stakeholders that work in your office or out on sites across the country. Because users access them online, SaaS has much lower setup costs and you don’t have to shell out for server fees, software updates or support costs.

There’s no need for time-consuming software updates and installations and the software is always up to date. All information is stored in one place where it’s accessible to all stakeholders in real-time, for better transparency and collaboration – without chasing down email threads or having important details slip through the net. Payment is based on a flexible pricing model too, eg. by your number of users or projects, so you can choose the plan that fits your business with the flexibility to upgrade down the line.