Selecting a new Software-as-Service vendor isn’t just about functionality. You’ll be entering into a partnership. If your SaaS vendor is not trustworthy, their actions and policies can have long-term financial and reputational implications for your business.  

Thus, choosing a new SaaS application for your business should begin with a comprehensive SaaS vendor assessment. You’ll need to find a vendor whose services and practices meet your needs as an organization. Everything from renewal terms to security policies matter when you invest in a mission-critical SaaS solution.  

Wise business owners begin the process with a SaaS vendor questionnaire. Essentially, this is a list of security questions to ask SaaS vendors before you commit to becoming their client.  

Below, you’ll find a sample SaaS vendor checklist to use as a guide as you choose your next cloud-based software solution. Continue reading to discover what you really need to know before you forge a new SaaS partnership. 

Data Compliance and Security Questions

Regardless of your industry, data security should always be one of your top considerations when choosing a SaaS vendor. Your clients trust you to securely manage their personal data and information. In the event of a breach, it’s your reputation that will be on the line.  

Likewise, in more regulated industries, security issues may come with steep fines.  

Thus, your initial questions should address whether the SaaS application can meet the security requirements of your industry. Specifically, you must ensure that the application meets your business’s unique security demands and protocols.  

Begin with the following questions: 

  1. Who is responsible for securing information? Is there a designated leader? 
  1. What policies do you have in place to ensure data security?  
  1. Are the personnel at your organization background checked? Have they all signed NDAs? 
  1. What is your company policy on security training, and how often do you review this information? 
  1. Where are your data centers or servers? How many are there, including backups? What measures have you taken to secure them? 
  1. What countermeasures are in place for network risks? 
  1. What IAM controls are in place to keep customer information safe on the user end? 
  1. Can you outline your risk management methodology? 
  1. What process do you follow in the event the contract is terminated? 
  1. Do you share any portion of your services, and with who? 
  1. Can you outline your incident management process? 
  1. Are you willing to provide response times for any service prevision incidents in the past calendar year?  

Ideally, the SaaS vendor should have accessible answers to these questions. Better yet, they should offer them before you have to ask to ensure they have done their due diligence. Clear and forthcoming responses are typically a sign that a vendor takes their security obligations seriously.

A software engineer works on SaaS code in an office

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery

One of the most crucial questions to ask when choosing a SaaS vendor is, “What happens in the event of bankruptcy or a breach?” Most organizations should have business continuity and disaster recovery plans in place.  

According to NIST, a business continuity plan is a predetermined set of procedures describing how a company will sustain processes following a significant disruption. 

Likewise, many businesses have a disaster recovery plan in place in the event that something significant does go wrong. A disaster recovery plan focuses on data restoration and access. In other words, a business continuity plan is proactive, while a disaster recovery plan is reactive.  

As a potential client, you are within your rights to request to see these documents. They can help you better understand how the vendor will respond to adverse events.

Willingness to Enter a SaaS Escrow Agreement

You can assess a SaaS vendor’s confidence in their procedures based on their willingness to enter a SaaS escrow agreement. Such an agreement is a strong component of an organization’s disaster recovery plan.  

SaaS escrow agreements ensure that subscribers will not lose access to mission-critical SaaS applications or customer data in the event of a disaster. If the vendor’s solution is lost, subscribers gain access to the source code and build instructions necessary to continue operations. In some cases, production servers may be available at a secure data center. They will be ready to go live, ensuring instant, seamless continuity.  

Ask your prospective SaaS vendor if they are willing and able to enter a SaaS escrow agreement to ensure business continuity. Some vendors may already have an agreement prepared.

Additional SaaS Vendor Questions

There are several other pertinent questions to ask SaaS vendors before you sign a contract and commit to a partnership. These might include: 

  1. Are you willing to establish a price cap in our contract? 
  1. Do you have an AI policy in place, especially vis-a-vis client data? 
  1. Can you outline your migration options, including a rough timeline? 
  1. What support do you offer following the onboarding process? 
  1. Are you willing to provide at least one active customer reference? 
  1. Are you willing to entertain solution enhancement in the event that our needs change? 
  1. Has your company undergone a recent security audit, and how did you perform? 
  1. Can I see a sample Service Level Agreement? 
  1. How familiar are you with my industry? 
  1. What is the published uptime for your service? 

The answers to all of the questions above should paint a clear picture of what a prospective SaaS vendor can offer you and your business.  

Once you’ve chosen your partner, learn more about our SaaS escrow services to ensure business continuity in a dynamic world.  

author avatar
Jorge Sagastume
Jorge Sagastume is a seasoned professional with over two decades of experience in the software escrow industry. As the President of EscrowTech International, Inc., he has demonstrated a profound expertise in navigating the complexities of software escrow agreements and intellectual property management. His leadership has been instrumental in solidifying EscrowTech's reputation as a trusted and reliable partner in the tech industry. Jorge's commitment to excellence and his passion for delivering top-notch service are reflected in the long-standing relationships he has built with clients and partners alike