Frontegg https://frontegg.com Platform for SaaS Applications Thu, 21 Jan 2021 18:19:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://frontegg.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/favicon.png Frontegg https://frontegg.com 32 32 How to Build Great SaaS Reporting for Enterprise Users https://frontegg.com/blog/saas-reporting-for-enterprise-users https://frontegg.com/blog/saas-reporting-for-enterprise-users#respond Sun, 17 Jan 2021 11:16:16 +0000 https://frontegg.com/?p=4314 If you intend to compete in the enterprise SaaS arena, effective reporting functionality isn’t just a differentiator – it’s the price of entry. With the market continuing to mature, larger businesses increasingly expect any SaaS application they implement to feature a robust set of user-facing SaaS reporting capabilities. These tools enable enterprises to see the […]

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If you intend to compete in the enterprise SaaS arena, effective reporting functionality isn’t just a differentiator – it’s the price of entry. With the market continuing to mature, larger businesses increasingly expect any SaaS application they implement to feature a robust set of user-facing SaaS reporting capabilities. These tools enable enterprises to see the value that your app is delivering, and justify their investment in your product.

Enterprises need more than just your core technology

Your core technology is naturally the biggest factor in determining the success of your SaaS product, but it can’t stand alone. To appeal to enterprise customers, you also need to offer a number of generic, baseline SaaS capabilities that will enable businesses to integrate and consume your app with minimal friction.

In a BetterCloud survey of more than 1,800 people across IT roles and organizations, respondents ranked reporting and analytics as one of their top priorities when purchasing SaaS applications. The main reason why enterprises place such a premium on SaaS reporting is that it lets them see how effectively the software is performing, whether it delivers what it promises, and whether it is worth the cost. Applications in an enterprise environment must deliver total transparency together with clearly demonstrable value, so you need to give customers the tools to look under the hood and show your app’s worth.

Churn is a major challenge for SaaS companies, with customers churning through an average of 30% of their apps each year. But if stakeholders can easily prove the effectiveness of your product, it’ll improve retention, and can even lead to wider adoption across the organization.

Key features of enterprise reports

Different user groups – such as developers, finance staff, and sales teams – will have different reporting needs. The more groups you are targeting with your app, the more reporting features you will need to offer. That being said, there are a number of key capabilities that you should always look to provide:

Ongoing insight with minimal user effort

One of the most straightforward ways that users consume data from their SaaS applications is through regularly scheduled reports, typically delivered by email. You need to enable customers to set a schedule, choose a format, and define the metrics they want to see. After setting these parameters once, the user should then receive automatically generated reports on a regular basis, keeping them informed with no further effort required. Remember to make sure that your reports are cross-platform compatible and look great across different email clients.

Enterprise SaaS customers should be able to schedule reports

Let users get hands-on with interactive dashboards

For customers that want to dig a little deeper, you should look to provide interactive, personalized dashboards for self-service reporting. The dashboard should enable users to generate their own reports on the fly, and drill down on precisely the SaaS reporting metrics that matter to them. This level of customization is a great way to meet the requirements of a diverse user base, and is a key feature of enterprise-ready SaaS products.

Going one step further, you can alternatively offer dynamic data stories that deliver insights directly to each user based on their role. According to Gartner, usage of interactive dashboards in the enterprise is actually declining in favor of these “new augmented and NLP-driven user experiences”.

Keep reports relevant and secure

While we wouldn’t go so far as to write off dashboards just yet, it’s certainly true that not all the data and functionality you offer will be relevant to all users within an enterprise. By providing user management capabilities, you can give your customers control over which employees can see which data points, who can access the dashboards, and who can view reports. Not only will this prevent users from being overwhelmed by tools that aren’t applicable to them, it can also help enterprises keep sensitive data secure.

Complete export freedom

Every user has their own preference for report format, and you need to support as many as possible. Ensure that your customers can export their SaaS reports to Excel, PDF, Word, JPEG, etc. Additionally, look to provide advanced exporting options, such as the ability to choose which data fields to export.

Drive business decision-making with real-time insights

The older the information in your reports is, the less useful it is in facilitating data-driven business decisions. The circumstances in which enterprises operate are always changing, so making truly informed business decisions requires real-time data. When developing SaaS reporting functionality, you should aim to enable your customers to generate live reports using the most recent data possible.

The first step to enterprise-readiness

Following these guidelines should help you develop robust and sophisticated reporting functionality that meets the needs of large businesses. However, reporting is only one element of an enterprise-ready SaaS product. You will also need to integrate a range of other capabilities to support your core technology, such as webhooks, SSO, and audit logging. At Frontegg, we specialize in building these baseline SaaS components. Head over to our product pages or stay tuned for future blog posts to learn more about how you can deliver the best possible enterprise user experience.

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The SaaS Freemium Model https://frontegg.com/blog/the-saas-freemium-model https://frontegg.com/blog/the-saas-freemium-model#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 09:18:53 +0000 https://frontegg.com/?p=4056 Freemium has become the industry standard as well as a highly successful marketing strategy for many developer-facing SaaS applications. For developers, it’s extremely important to be able to test drive a product before buying it and not to have to feel pre-committed until it has been approved. The Freemium model has been tried and tested […]

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Freemium has become the industry standard as well as a highly successful marketing strategy for many developer-facing SaaS applications. For developers, it’s extremely important to be able to test drive a product before buying it and not to have to feel pre-committed until it has been approved.

The Freemium model has been tried and tested for decades and we have seen many companies such as Dropbox, Evernote, LinkedIn, Pandora and SurveyMonkey all thrive while using the freemium model, each one boasting success stories of their own. This is not necessarily the case for many other companies who have fallen prey to the Freemium trap and have proven unsuccessful in the long run. In order to attract, onboard and close a paying contract or pricing agreement with a potential customer, there are different steps you will need to take to make the Freemium magic happen.

Customer Onboarding Basics

Before we talk about your basic SaaS product, let’s address its usability. You want to make sure that you have a product offering in place that will start the engagement with your customers today. But how do you bring them onboard?

Selling is all about the test drive. If you’ve ever gone for a test drive in a car you really loved and desperately wanted to buy, then you can definitely relate to that feeling of tightness in your chest that you may have experienced when you had to drive the car into the dealership and hand back the keys. Because nobody wants to give up on something that makes them happy or feel good. 

The Test Drive: 

Being able to test drive a SaaS product before committing to it, is something that has become an industry standard for SaaS products and a basic expectation of customers. Make sure your customers have access to the bare minimum of features for a time limited period, thereby allowing them the ability to assess and decide regarding their next steps towards full integration. On your end, decide on the number of users you want to give access to, data allowance and maybe take the opportunity to integrate a branding message into any reports, emails or messages they send out during this trial period.

The Freemium Model:

Another option will be for you to offer the Freemium model of your SaaS product. It’s true that your users might seem to be mooching off of your product essentials. Try to remember that this scaled back version enables your customers who are unsure of their next steps or fearful of commitment, to continue to trial your solution for an extended period of time. Remember to keep in mind the tipping point. The key to a winning Freemium SaaS offering is to offer just enough value up to the tipping point, a place in time and usage where the user is ready to start paying for more. 

In order for the Freemium model to work, there must be low marginal distribution and production costs in place. That is possibly why this model is so successful in the SaaS industry, because the cost of every additional user is nothing more than a database entry. That being said, you have to be careful not to invest in additional infrastructure to handle these new users without making sure that you are generating the revenue you need to support these growing costs. You must also make sure to avoid overuse of the existing infrastructure by free users, thereby driving your paying customers to frustration and ultimately to your competitors.

Bottom line is to remember that the basis of the Freemium model’s success, you should ensure that you have

  1. A proper business model to support it 
  2. A way to balance your Freemium and paying customers
  3. Open multiple channels that can regularly communicate the benefits of transferring to a paying plan
  4. A plan to keep your infrastructure manageable and maintainable.

At Frontegg, one of the capabilities our customers regularly ask for is the ability to enforce certain application features based on their customer’s pricing plan. We know how important it is to our customers to be able to maintain different tiers of features within our products, and to be able to enforce different capabilities when needed and we constantly aim to offer these features in an affordable and yet easy to use and intuitive way. At Frontegg we want to offer a plan that suits everyone so feel free to reach out and let us know how we can help you get started on your SaaS development journey today. 

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The Customer Centric Approach to Running Your SaaS https://frontegg.com/blog/the-customer-centric-approach-to-running-your-saas https://frontegg.com/blog/the-customer-centric-approach-to-running-your-saas#respond Sun, 29 Nov 2020 09:29:47 +0000 https://frontegg.com/?p=4060 Let’s look closely at the basic tools necessary to ensure the smooth engagement, onboarding and retention of your customers and users. In this post we will review the basic “must-have”  processes and product features that every SaaS product needs in order to focus on their customers and keep their users engaged.  Product Support Throughout the […]

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Let’s look closely at the basic tools necessary to ensure the smooth engagement, onboarding and retention of your customers and users. In this post we will review the basic “must-have”  processes and product features that every SaaS product needs in order to focus on their customers and keep their users engaged. 

Product Support

Throughout the onboarding process your customers are going to need tech support, human support and any other online resources that are available. The first time your team will be put to the test is during the adoption stage and when managing the switching costs of the customer. Make sure to explain the onboarding next steps and to clearly define the process before you begin. Getting stuck between a rock and a hard place is not pleasant for any of the sides involved. 

Spend the time and energy to invest in your product onboarding and customer support and customer success to ensure an amazing user experience.

Live Documentation

Remember that much of the customer’s Q&A should be easy to find and resolve online. This should be done independently via your portal or other resources such as Docs, online chat and through your support channel. Make sure to streamline the direct contact that is being made with Customer Success and Support so that they aren’t being bogged down by lower level issues that were easily resolvable somewhere down the ladder.

The Development/Feedback Cycle

Is the customer currently at the center of your business and growth? You will be going through many stages of development and the attention to detail and your customers’ feedback will be a make or break for your next stages of development. Your platform should be collecting data from all possible sources so that you have a 360 degree view of your customer at all times. The customer experience is not an afterthought, an outcome of developer’s solitude, locked away in their bubble coding and building whatever the recent sprint was based on their own assumptions and goals instead of their users. If you continue to look outward towards your users and customers for feedback and guidance, you will end up showcasing a carefully designed and constructed “customer friendly” final product. 

Easy Navigation

“If you build it, they will come.” well, the only problem is that they may have tried to arrive but got lost somewhere in a jumble of acronyms, menus and miscommunication. Attention spans are short, and you have 30 seconds or less to get your customer onto the right page. Same thing holds for your product. Design your product around an intuitive and easy to use platform. Make sure that changes and features are easy to use and implement. Create quick transitions by issuing a ticket and offering a clear resolution channel. Clearly state your live chat, email, phone, contact form, social media and help desk ticket software in locations your users will be able to search for and find. 

Being Proactive

You know first what the latest developments are. You are aware of all of the latest fixes and features on your product before anyone else. Make no mistake about it. Because a quick second to find out is your users. Why wait for the questions and comments to start rolling in? Preempt this by leading the conversation. Send out newsletters or pop ups to your customers letting them know what’s coming next, what features you are launching, problems you have solved and more. They will be grateful for this ongoing interaction and you will also have another channel for immediate feedback and AB testing of your latest upgrades. 

Portal Self-Service

Try to make your product as self-service as possible. Most of the users are used to getting awesome experiences where there’s no need for someone to hold their hand during the process. Even if it is indeed challenging at early stages, you should always aim for a great experience in which customers are able to perform any action they desire on their own, within their account management in your portal, without the need to open tickets or call someone.

Remember that when building your SaaS product, customers are not only your lifeline, they are your critics and your fans and they provide most of the metrics around everything you are doing right and what needs improving. 

At Frontegg we take a heavily customer-centric approach. Starting from dedicated Slack channels with all of our customers where we aim to answer KPIs in under 3 minutes. We also invest a lot of time thinking and brain storming our current onboarding processes so that our customers can integrate our solutions in a clean and efficient manner.

Besides building our own processes around these notions, we also help our customers make their own platforms much more customer centric. For example, all of our managed capabilities come with a customer facing UI that the end user can use on their own to solve any account related task within the SaaS product.


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How to Kickstart Your Successful SaaS Company https://frontegg.com/blog/how-to-kickstart-your-saas-product https://frontegg.com/blog/how-to-kickstart-your-saas-product#respond Sun, 29 Nov 2020 09:29:45 +0000 https://frontegg.com/?p=4058 When building your basic SaaS product, you will need to face many different stages of development in order to make sure you are ready to enter the market. If you are reading this, you probably have already started on your SaaS journey and you may even be searching for resources or ideas to guide you. […]

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When building your basic SaaS product, you will need to face many different stages of development in order to make sure you are ready to enter the market. If you are reading this, you probably have already started on your SaaS journey and you may even be searching for resources or ideas to guide you. You will need to know what the industry standards are in order to be successful and at par with other saas companies in your industry and class. You don’t want to build too much at this early stage and yet you don’t want to under-serve your customers or fall behind your competition.

Preparing For (SaaS) Liftoff

Let’s assume that you have a pretty clear understanding of your own core product offering, you know your customers and your market. Some of you may have even looked towards options for supporting tools for your SaaS development including customer service solutions, a CRM, analytics programs and one project management tool or another. Sound familiar? Now you are ready to build and launch your MVP without a moment to lose. Yesterday.

Preparing for liftoff also means making sure you have a proper website URL that is easy to remember, retell and type with a top level extension. You will have decided on web hosting, cloud hosting or other server options and you will have decided on a payment provider to make it easy for your customers to pay.

The Lean MVP Approach

Every SaaS company who needs to address their technical needs early on might look for alternatives to in-house development:

  • Outsourcing: As is the case for most SaaS startups, they often turn to outsourcing their customized development to help them with their core features. 
  • Open-Source: Since your time-to-market is key, many companies will rely on open-source software as an effective way to implement software, despite its many limitations. Skilled developers know how to manipulate and use this open-source software and it can save money and time at the beginning stages of a company. 
  • Features-as-a-service: There is no need to write common features and nodules yourself, as the market offers many ready to use solutions for software needs that include payment processing, support chat and more. Integrating these features as a service into your MVP will leave you time and resources to focus on your core business.

Security 

When building your product you need to make sure that your customers feel comfortable and secure. When processing or storing data you’ll want to ensure that only the bare minimum of data is being collected. You will need to protect data from the outside as well as from the inside to make sure that other users won’t be able to access other users data. This is generally done using SAML & SSO, encryption, multi-factor authentication, multi-tenancy and authentication.

Scalability

There will be some important decisions to be made early on, including deciding on your architecture. You won’t want to have to rebuild that later since it can prove to be time consuming and costly. As your product and customer base grows, the integral features will need to be scalable to meet the ever growing demand for new customer facing features. Reporting and In-App messaging will be essential whether it’s scheduled or responsive and even more so, it will be needed in order to note and respond to product inquiry or bug reporting from your end user. 

Performance 

Even at an early stage, your users won’t be so forgiving if the performance of your SaaS product is slow or unresponsive. They will also want immediate availability of those basic features they are used to being served in a SaaS environment and by your competitors. In-App notifications, WebHooks, Web-Push, 3rd Party Channels are the must have offerings on your SaaS dashboard and within your SaaS platform.

At Frontegg we always consider the requirements that are necessary to plan, secure, build and scale your SaaS platform. Through our SaaS as a Service capabilities, we have integrated these features and basic essentials into our products and services leaving you time and resources to focus and give the majority of your attention to what your core business needs to grow. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or are interested in learning more. 

At Frontegg, we are your partners for all your SaaS essentials. Book a demo today and get started tomorrow, FREE. 

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What is Passwordless Authentication? https://frontegg.com/blog/what-is-passwordless-authentication https://frontegg.com/blog/what-is-passwordless-authentication#respond Thu, 19 Nov 2020 14:59:44 +0000 https://frontegg.com/?p=4031 Over the last few posts we have discussed how to store passwords on the db, how to protect our users via MFA, how to log them in via SAML and SSO and more. But all of these have one thing in common: Our users still need to have password stored somewhere. The question is where. […]

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Over the last few posts we have discussed how to store passwords on the db, how to protect our users via MFA, how to log them in via SAML and SSO and more.

But all of these have one thing in common: Our users still need to have password stored somewhere. The question is where.

Let’s take John as an example.
John has 5 SaaS applications he is using regularly.
If he relies on SSO, that’s easy. He has only one password to remember (his IDP / OAuth password). But what happens if he doesn’t use SSO?

Like many people, John will probably create a password for each of his 5 SaaS applications thereby exposing his account in the event that any one of them is breached.

And furthermore, what if John can’t keep track of which password goes where? Then what?? Will he just decide to use an identical password for every single one of his accounts thereby creating greater vulnerability should even one of his accounts be breached.

What are passwordless logins?

Passwordless authentication usually requires the user to actually provide some kind of proof that he is really the user he claims to be, without providing the password as part of the authentication flow.

This may sound complex but actually it isn’t.

Let’s take this flow:

passwordless logins

We’ve all experienced it without actually thinking about the fact that we are running through a passwordless login flow.

The proof for the authenticity of the user, in this case, is the “ownership” over the email box and being able to prove the ownership via the control over the OTP code which was sent via the verification email.

But is email the only method for password-less logins?

Well no, it actually isn’t. There are a few other methods we can turn to.

For one thing, we can rely on the use of “ownership methods” in order to provide validation such as phone numbers, dongle keys, HW tokens, and more. Whereby the second method will be the user of “Inherence methods” such as fingerprints, face recognition etc.

So far all of this is sounding quite familiar, right?

We did mention OTP and “Device ownership” and it sounds as if this is another method of MFA? Well, in most cases MFA is required as another level of security for password-based logins. When we provide password-less-based authentication, we can “spare” this part and log in the user directly as soon as he has proved his ownership.

Implementation considerations

So, does this mean that you should quickly run tomorrow morning to delete ALL passwords from your DB and solely provide password-less based authentication?

Let’s wait a bit before running to delete them all and first consider the pros and cons for password-less vs. password-based authentication.

The pros to using password-less authentication are rather obvious:

  • Hardening security – passwords are always weak. This is true on each and every SaaS application. Human nature drives the users to maintain the same password across all SaaS applications which leads to an increased risk of password breach.
  • UX – Users do not need to remember passwords, change them every X days and follow strict password policy rules when changing passwords since password-less offers easy flow via email.

The cons of the password-less approach are, among other things:

  • Hard to implement – In most cases, email + passwords are very easy to implement but a flow where we would need to maintain expirations on tokens and shipping out emails, makes the implementation complex and increases development costs.
  • Still not a standard – While the users are used to email and password-based authentication, the “entry point” for password-less authentication is somehow limited.
  • The dependency of 3rd parties – Using password+email-based authentication means we can take care of activation immediately. When one of the users is not getting his activation email, the dependence makes it harder to integrate.
  • Less relevant in the case of IDP / SSO based authentication.
    When our users log in via SAML and SSO authentication, there is no need for password-less authentication (at least on the SaaS application side). The user has one password for the entire span of their SaaS operations and this is the same password which is used for his email login.

Summary

Password-less logins are here to stay. This idea of not requiring a user to remember any passwords to the multiple accounts they are using enhances the level of trust in the authentication flow.

At Frontegg we took all of these requirements into consideration when building our SaaS as a Service platform. If you have any questions as to what the correct model is for you and how you should implement them then feel free to reach out. We are here to help.

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SaaS Product Readiness Pyramid https://frontegg.com/blog/saas-product-readiness-pyramid https://frontegg.com/blog/saas-product-readiness-pyramid#respond Thu, 12 Nov 2020 15:23:51 +0000 https://frontegg.com/?p=3998 Most great products involve vision and practicality. On the vision part, you would want to innovate with something that you came up with and you imagine it can solve many problems out there. On the practicality part, some of the features you will build in your product would center around requests from customers, or potential […]

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Most great products involve vision and practicality. On the vision part, you would want to innovate with something that you came up with and you imagine it can solve many problems out there. On the practicality part, some of the features you will build in your product would center around requests from customers, or potential customers. This is what “Customer-Driven Product Development” is all about. Usually, when fulfilling such requests there are several levels of readiness. Each one provides a business value and solves a problem. In this post, I will walk through the Feature Readiness Pyramid of SaaS. That includes three main tiers.

Feature Readiness Pyramid of SaaS

Real-Life Example — SSO functionality

Let’s consider this user story: “As an enterprise user of ACME SaaS platform, I would like to be able to federate the login process of my organizational users to our organizational identity provider”

A very visionary (or not so experienced) product manager would start to build the most amazing experience mock-ups around this user story, just to realize that building it perfectly might lead to exhausting 3 sprint epic, which would cause the R&D team not to deal with other crucial features.

On the other hand, we want something that works, even if it’s minimal, that can fit one sprint of development and provide a business impact!

Let’s try to break down the pyramid into its three tiers, by pushing our SSO user story along.

First tier — Functionality

When a feature request pops-up it would usually go out for voting, and when the time comes and it became important enough to implement, the first thing we would do is try to “solve the business problem”. That would usually involve an Alpha stage of the feature, which will enable basic functionality around the user story. The state of mind here is important, we’re still not sure that this feature will become a standard in our product, so we would not want to invest too much effort into it. Let’s solve the problem, enable business, and LEARN.

The user needs to get from one place to the other to pass a message, and you’re basically just saying: “Listen, you don’t really need to get there, just let us go there on our own and pass the message for you”.

Functionality — Example through SSO capability

Enabling functionality around SSO will be fulfilling the basic need of the customer. If the enterprise customer wants to be able to federate logins to their IDP, perhaps the minimal viable feature would be:

  1. The customer would open a request to configure their Okta SSO, with all the required details
  2. Customer-support will configure the Okta SSO on the backend
  3. Customers will be able to log in via federated SSO using their Okta identity provider

That’s amazing, the business request was fulfilled. Is the experience perfect? Probably not. (1) What if the customer needs to make some changes in the configuration? (2) What if another customer needs a different identity provider rather than Okta? (3) What about mapping the roles of the organizational user groups to the ACME SaaS roles?

Of course, the solution is sub-optimal at it’s best. But it works. The quality must be amazing, no bugs might exist at this stage. The functionality exists, but there’s no control and no user-experience.

Second tier —Control

The second stage would typically involve providing some level of control for the end-user. Usually, this would be the next step in making the feature work, but also maintainable on some level of practicality. Usually, we can move the usability up a notch by providing some level of documentation, external APIs, or even easing down the process of making the user story completed from the customer’s point of view.

The general idea here is to allow the user to get from one place to the other and pass their message by picking up rides on the way or taking the bus. Not an amazing experience but at least they have control over the ride.

Control— Example through SSO capability

For example, if the ACME SaaS has 100 customers that have been waiting for the SSO feature, it would probably not make sense to have the support team maintaining the feature for them and handling every change request. But do we have to build a full-blown SSO control? Not entirely, the control tier in this case could also be an external API with documentation. So we open up an API (by utilizing an API system we already have in place) and providing documentation on how to set up an SSO configuration.

That’s cool, the business request was fulfilled and the customer also has some level of control over the process. But is the experience perfect now? Well… Not so much. For example, what if there are no developers that can help the customer set up the process? Is this the best user experience we can provide?

Third tier —Experience

The concept is simple. If the feature was required, and not only once, but really required — by customers. Then let’s make a hell of an experience from it. Let’s move the full control for the customer.

They want to get from one place to the other, sure, let’s provide them with an app in which they can just click on a button and order a ride, every time they need to go somewhere.

Experience matters- that’s why customers get back to you.

Experience— Example through SSO capability

It might sound like the most complicated step, but actually it’s simple, let’s build an amazing feature around SSO configuration. It should be a self-service process. A customer logs into the system goes to their account configuration and just configures their own SSO, the whole nine yards. The next time they log in to the account, it is all set up and login federation is performed. What if the customer forgot to do some mapping of roles or wants to change something? No problem, just login into the account and change some SSO settings. Amazing!

Inversion of Control in SaaS products

The idea in the last step is what we call at Frontegg — “The Inversion of Control of SaaS products”. Basically, we want to move the control to the customer’s end. We would like to provide a full experience in which the end-user can have full visibility and full control over every capability in their SaaS application. You can solve core problems by providing the most basic level of functionality the customer needs to do business, you can even ease the process a bit by providing some level of control to their hands, but at the end of the day, a real enterprise-readiness of your product will be determined by how much self-service is enabled in your offering and how much it is built for scale of business.

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