How to Build a SaaS Application in 2021: An In-Depth Guidance

Updated 25 Aug 2021

Published 31 Jul 2020

13 Min


G Suite, Slack, Salesforce, and other SaaS solutions bring a bunch of digital changes to businesses of all kinds. It’s expected that over 86% of mobile startups will go SaaS by the end of 2022.

Saas market is booming, and a lot of companies are picking this model for long-term, easily predictable profit. Here is what statistics says:

  • Global SaaS market will reach 380 million by 2021.
  • SaaS organizations operate in over 100 countries.
  • Companies use an average of 34 SaaS apps.

But why are SaaS apps popular among businesses and service providers? How to build SaaS? How much does it cost to develop a SaaS platform? In this article, we’ll dive into all the details of building SaaS applications.

What Is SaaS: Benefits and Examples

Software as a Service, also known as SaaS, stands for a cloud-based solution that can be used via mobile apps or browsers. Using such a service, customers don’t need to install and configure the app since the software provider handles it. Thanks to the internet, SaaS is available to users all over the world and from every device.

How to make a SaaS app: meaning

What is SaaS?

There are a bunch of SaaS products on the market from office software (GSuite) to messengers for work (Slack).

There is a difference between building SaaS apps and traditional ones. After launching a SaaS product, developers continue working on it. It’s required to update the service regularly to gain more users and stand up to the competition. Enterprises like Amazon, Salesforce, and Box have development teams to keep their solutions up to date.

Why Do Tech Companies Go SaaS?

SaaS solutions have a high potential for improving the business. We’ve singled out several advantages.

  • Cost efficiency. Using a SaaS service, there is no need to buy and maintain expensive hardware. It’s common for Saas solutions to offer paid subscriptions. So, the company pays for the required functionality and can stop paying if the business doesn’t need the service.
  • Scalability. Due to the subscription, businesses can pay only for the services that they need. If requirements change, it’s easy to upgrade the subscription plan with a few clicks.
  • Reliability. SaaS is a cloud-based solution. A cloud stands for a network of services that can be placed all over the world. So, even if one server goes down, SaaS products still work.
  • Security. Any cloud service provider tends to consider security issues. As a result, all the information is well-protected and is stored in a safe place.
SaaS app benefits

Why use SaaS?

Cloud-based solutions are accessible from various devices (like laptops, tablets, and smartphones) from any place in the world. It’s important for workers that have a bunch of business trips. They can work anywhere and anytime.

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Top Five Strongest SaaS Providers on the Market

According to the G2 crowd report, we’ve singled out the top five SaaS companies to inspire while building a SaaS product. These companies provide their software to many businesses from all over the world. The list is based on customer reviews, social networks, and online sources.


Google owns 137 products that offer Internet-related services for digital analytics, document creation, and others. Google provides a bunch of applications like Google Drive, Google Document, and Google Sheet.


Slack is a famous chat letting coworkers to collaborate with each other. It offers messaging, video and audio calls, and a bunch of useful bots. A lot of enterprises use Slack for internal communication among employees.


This is a well-known SaaS company that helps e-commerce businesses. The service offers multiple solutions for CRM, marketing automation, email marketing, and so on.


One more SaaS provider for ecommerce and retail industries. There are three leading solutions — Shopify, Shopify Plus, Burst by Shopify.


HubSpot is a powerful CRM platform that helps manage customers. There are such solutions as CRM, HubSpot Sales, HubSpot Academy, and others.

How to build a SaaS app: top SaaS providers

Top SaaS companies and their total funding amount

How to Develop a SaaS Application from Scratch

Building SaaS products differs from usual mobile development services. The primary difference in creating cloud-based solutions is the need for a reliable cloud service provider.

One of the most popular providers is Amazon Web Services (AWS) that offers a bunch of cool tools for SaaS developers.

Learn how we created and configured AWS server architecture for Occaz, a service app where everyone can check a car's state before buying the vehicle.

How to create a SaaS platform and reach success? You need to invest time and energy and learn your customers’ needs and demands.

We’ve singled out the six steps to building a SaaS product.

Step #1. Think of the Value You Bring

To gain users for your SaaS product, you need to offer a solid and valuable solution. Customers want to understand the value of the product before subscribing and paying for it.

For example, it’s a good idea to offer a free trial period for a certain period of time. In this case, customers can understand the value and benefits that your SaaS service brings them. Also, you can offer to pay for a single use of the platform. It’ll be convenient for users that don’t use the service a lot.

Step #2. Do the Market Research and Consider Your Competitors

Starting to build a SaaS app, you need to know the market and understand your target audience. It’s good to analyze competitors, the features of their solutions, business models, and so on.

Having analyzed the market, you can realize how to make your SaaS solution stand out from the existing products.

Step #3. Collect Project Requirements

Before starting the development process, you need to consider all your project requirements.

It’s necessary to create a list of features. They can be different. It’s common to divide app features into two main groups — basic and advanced. MVP or basic features stand for features that are required to satisfy the user needs. As for advanced, they add some exciting functions to engage more users.

Speaking of SaaS solutions, it’s common to consider three types of features:

  • Functional tools. There are primary features of the SaaS service. For example, Slack should offer an opportunity to send messages and make video calls.
  • Analytical tools. Any CRM system should offer a bunch of reports, statistics, and more.
  • Management tools. SaaS solutions should provide an opportunity to choose user roles. According to the chosen role, they need to have various features and access layers to the SaaS product.
How to make a SaaS app: features to integrate

How to build a SaaS app: required features

Step #4. Pay Attention to UI/UX Design

Having a list of required features, it’s time to create a great UI/UX design for your SaaS product. Users are quite spoilt these days. They tend to abandon websites and apps with unattractive and unclear designs. So, to make a SaaS app profitable, you need to create a user-friendly design.

The design process requires time and money. Everything starts with wireframes. They stand for a schematic placement of elements on the app screen. Wireframes tend to be monochrome and show the screen's connection.

Building a SaaS product: Wireframes


After that, designers create a visual style of your future app. They pick the appropriate colors, fonts, and other graphic elements.

It’s time to create a design. Designers create all the app screens and their conditions. After that, they make a clickable prototype. The last step of the UI/UX design process is handing over the design to developers.

Want to know more about the UI/UX design process? We’ve created the guide to discuss all the design steps.

Step #5. Work on Your Pricing Strategy

Pricing strategy is a significant part of any SaaS product. It’s common to offer a subscription plan.

You need to create several plans according to the user's needs and expectations. Additionally, it’s good to add several free functions or provide a free trial period. For example, Google Drive allows using 15 GB for free. However, if you need more storage, you can buy a monthly subscription.

Also, SaaS providers offer subscriptions for various numbers of users. There can be from 3 to 1,000 accounts.

Step #6. Define Tech Stack

Choosing the technologies for your SaaS app is a complicated task. You need to show the project requirements, features, and design to the developers. They can select the required technologies to create a SaaS application.

You need to keep your solution up to date, so it’s required to pick tools that allow scaling the solution.

To give you a hint, we listed the Salesforce tech stack below.

Application and data

  • Akamai
  • Cloudant
  • ClearDB


  • Google Analytics
  • Twilio
  • Optimizely
  • Heap
  • Recurly
  • Zuora
  • Cyfe
  • TransmogrifAI


  • Jenkins
  • Bitbucket
  • New Relic
  • Datadog
  • Puppet Labs
  • Cloud9 IDE
  • Sauce Labs
  • StillAlive

Business tools

  • Jira
  • G Suite
  • InVision
  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • Balsamiq
  • DocuSign
  • UXPin
Salesforce tech stack

Technologies used to develop Salesforce

Tech Difficulties to Build a SaaS Application

Creating a SaaS product can be challenging due to many difficulties on the tech side.


Let’s face it — to make your SaaS product successful, you need to choose a scalable tech stack. A complex solution has to be customizable at each layer. As a result, developers should consider the following aspects:

  • Interface
  • Integrations
  • List of features (must-have and advanced)
  • Page templates
  • URL structure

Scalabile products will let you attract users and bring value in the long-run.


SaaS solutions often work with business segments and process/keep a lot of sensitive information. As a SaaS vendor, you need to guarantee data privacy to your users.

Such information as bank data, personal data, and customers’ information may leak due to lack of security. It’ll lead to losing your customers and their trust. Additionally, you can pay an enormous fine.


The AWS SaaS architecture tends to be the most reliable service for cloud software maintenance. AWS takes care of its hardware and backups all the data securely. It’s a huge benefit of using this solution.

Your customers should trust and rely on your services. It’s better to pay attention to every single detail like logo, UI/UX design, colors, and more.


Every SaaS application has a bunch of third-party integrations like Google Maps, PayPal, and others. In other words, any kind of addition of features based on other software is a third-party integration.

It requires a lot of expertise and effort to develop a SaaS application well. Additionally, the number of integrations affect the final price.

Also, it is vital to test these integrations properly with manual or automated tests for proper working.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a SaaS Platform?

The final cost of building a SaaS product varies on the following factors.

  • The complexity of features
  • Hiring option
  • The team’s hourly rates
  • The number of third-party integrations

The Complexity of Features

How to calculate the price of creating a SaaS application?

You need to multiply the time needed for development by the developers’ rates.

The development time depends on the features’ complexity. The more complicated the feature is, the more time developers need to implement it.

Let’s consider Slack as an example. To create an app like Slack (MVP version), you need at least 2632 hours. You can study the details below.

How much does it cost to create Slack?

Type of workDevelopment time


852 hours


852 hours


768 hours

UI/UX design (for one platform)

80 hours

Total hours

2632 hours

We’ve estimated the approximate cost to make an app like Slack for iOS and Android in different regions of the world:

  • Eastern Europe. $131,600 (based on $50/h)
  • North America. $263,200 (based on $100/h)
  • Western Europe. $236,880 (based on $90/h)
  • Australia. $263,200 (based on $100/h)

Hiring Options for SaaS App Development

Where to hire SaaS developers?

There are three popular options to employ software engineers — cooperate with a freelance developer, create an in-house team, or find a reliable vendor.

Where to hire SaaS developers

Platforms to hire SaaS app developers

Freelance developers

Freelance employment is quite widespread these days. However, SaaS development requires long-term cooperation, and that can be complicated with freelance engineers. They can switch to another project and fail deadlines.

Additionally, it’s challenging to check the candidate's knowledge and skills unless you’re a tech guru.

In-house SaaS developers

Creating your own development team can be quite profitable if you’ve already released the product to the market and got some profit. For example, several investors are interested in your solution, and you need to improve the app.

However, this hiring option tends to be expensive due to a bunch of additional expenses like office rent, hardware,software, taxes, and so on. That’s why it fits best to established companies that need to extend their team.

Outsourced development team

Outsourcing is gaining popularity due to affordable hourly rates, talented developers, and high quality of the final product.

There are many offshore software development companies all over the world, so you can hire developers from anywhere to create a SaaS app.

In our experience, in-house developers or offshore software development companies are the most suitable option to build a SaaS product.

Hourly Rates

Developers usually have an hourly rate. They can vary according to three factors — hiring options (freelancers, in-house teams, or outsourcing companies), qualification (junior, middle, senior), and region of the world.

For example, freelance developers have lower hourly rates than engineers from an in-house team. Moreover, the region is also significant. Developers from the USA have higher rates in comparison to the developers from Eastern Europe. Junior mobile app developers have lower hourly rates compared to their senior colleagues.

Below you can see the developers’ rates in various regions.

SaaS developers' rates

RegionDevelopers' rates ($/hour)

North America


Western Europe


Eastern Europe






South America


Cleveroad Expertise

Cleveroad has 6+ years of experience in building high-quality SaaS solutions. We want to share one of our latest cases — RetailOps.

SaaS solution: RetailOps


RetailOps is a versatile SaaS product that provides a bunch of tools for retail companies.

We started redesigning the app to make it more easy-to-use. We’ve reengineered RetailOps and made it run on Swift (native language for iOS development) instead of Cordova.

The application is integrated with the Socket Mobile barcode scanner utilizing its SDK. That means an iPhone can connect with the scanner via Bluetooth.

The application helps to track every movement of inventory from the moment it arrives on a warehouse to the minute it ships.

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Let’s create a Saas solution for your business to improve your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

The final cost of building a SaaS product varies on the following factors.

  • The complexity of features
  • Hiring option
  • The team’s hourly rates
  • The number of third-party integrations

We’ve singled out the six steps to building a SaaS product.

  • Step #1. Consider the Service Value
  • Step #2. Do the Market Research and Consider Your Competitors
  • Step #3. Collect the Project Requirements
  • Step #4. Pay Attention to the UI/UX Design
  • Step #5. Work on Your Pricing Strategy
  • Step #6. Define Tech Stack

According to the G2 crowd report, we’ve singled out the top five SaaS companies for you to inspire while building a SaaS product.

  • Google
  • Slack
  • Salesforce
  • Shopify
  • HubSpot

It’s impossible to calculate the time required for developing a SaaS without project requirements. It’s better to calculate the final time and price with professionals. They can consider all your requirements and business goals.

Software as a Service, also known as SaaS, stands for a cloud-based solution that can be used via mobile app or Internet browser. Using such a service, customers don’t need to install and configure the app since the software provider handles it. Thanks to the internet, SaaS is available to users all over the world and from every device.

There are a bunch of SaaS products on the market from office software (Google Apps) to working messengers (Slack).

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Emmi Remes
11.08.2020 at 02:32

Nice text)

Magnólia Barros
28.08.2020 at 11:13

I want to make a SaaS solution for e-commerce business. I like the piece of information you shared with us. The text is useful and easy-to-read for beginners and startupers.

Hümeyra Kerremans
04.11.2020 at 08:52

Thanks for sharing

22.11.2020 at 10:32

Thanks for the valuable information you shared with us

Lucas Barnaby
19.01.2021 at 04:14

Hello! I found this article very useful. It is interesting to know how Cleveroad is helps make SaaS solutions for various industries. I think that SaaS apps are profitable for e-commerce and retail.

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