17 Steps for SaaS Product Development [W/ Tips & Examples]

June 8, 2023

The demand for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products is increasing. 

According to a recent market analysis, the global SaaS market is expected to reach a whopping $462.94 billion by 2028.

This growing demand for SaaS products has opened up numerous opportunities for businesses to provide innovative solutions to their customers. However, the path to successful SaaS product development is often paved with challenges and uncertainties.

From conceptualization to launch, navigating the complex landscape of developing a SaaS product requires a strategic approach and careful execution. 

And that's where this article comes in.

In this guide, we will explore SaaS product development step-by-step, as well as give you some valuable tips, and real-world examples to help you along the way.

Let's dive in.

Step-by-Step Guide for Saas Product Development

SaaS product development can be a complicated process that comes with challenges, including third-party integrations, data security, selecting a pricing model, etc. But you can easily navigate this process if you take the proper steps.

So, what are the right steps?

For starters, you need to understand the three  stages of SaaS product development::

  • The Planning Stage: As the name implies, the planning stage involves defining the goals, requirements, and strategies for your SaaS product development.
  • The Selection Stage: The selection stage is where you decide what technology stack you’ll use, the platforms, cloud services provider, etc.
  • The Development Stage: This final stage of the SaaS development lifecycle includes bringing your idea to life by actually developing it. It involves building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), working on the UI/UX, creating the final product, etc.

So, you start with planning, then make some selection decisions, and finally, start building the product.

With that said, here are the steps involved in each of these phases and how to get them right:

Planning Stage

You’ve likely heard the saying, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." 

Well, it applies to SaaS product development, too. If you don't take the planning phase seriously, your product is bound to fail. For instance, if your SaaS idea is not a good market fit and you don't test it early, it will lead to product failure.

So, here are all the steps you need to take to get this phase right:

#1. Envision the Product

The first step in SaaS product development is to envision the product. During this phase, you define the product's vision, purpose, and goals, and you begin to shape its overall concept.

To build a concept, you will first have to define your target market. You must also figure out how you will reach out to potential users and how you will convince them of the value of your offering.

Additionally, you would also want to envision how your product will solve the pain points of your target market. It is also vital to plan how you would like to scale your product and to what extent. Will you start locally and then go global, or do you want to start targeting a worldwide audience from the very start?

For instance, if you plan to build a project management tool, your target audience will be businesses or creative agencies needing an intuitive and collaborative solution.

Similarly, you would identify the pain points of your target market, such as inefficient task management or difficult team collaboration, and define how your project management tool will address these challenges. This could involve building features like task assignment, progress tracking, real-time communication, and file-sharing capabilities.

As for the scaling, you will want to start locally if you are a startup with a limited budget. Once you capture the local market, you could slowly research other markets and scale globally.

#2. Conduct Market and Competitor Research

To develop a successful SaaS product, you must understand your potential customers, the market, and your competition.

As you begin to research the market and your customers, it's essential to understand that your SaaS product doesn’t always have to come with some unique features. It just needs to be better than your competitors.

There are many ways of approaching this process:

  • Conduct online surveys and interviews with potential users or customers to gather valuable insights and data to understand market trends, customer needs, and competitor positioning.
  • Interview executives at other companies in your space who can give insight into their business goals and challenges.
  • Read blogs and articles written by industry experts to stay updated on industry trends and gain valuable knowledge about competitors' strategies.
  • Use competitors’ products yourself to understand their workflows, key functionalities, pricing model, etc.
  • Consider your competitors’ partnerships to find potential collaborations or market gaps that you can address.

The research will help you determine what the current SaaS solutions offer and how you can develop a better product.

#3. Validate Your Idea

Validating your idea means ensuring that your product is a good market fit. If not, your solution will likely fail to take off.

Consider this example of ABBY, a SaaS solution for documenting A/B tests. While the idea seemed excellent, it was not a market fit. The problem was that to make the solution successful, ABBY employees had to educate all the users on how to use it, which was impossible. 

Had they validated the idea beforehand, they would have known this would be a challenge.

Validating your idea involves talking to potential customers, partners, and investors to get their feedback on what you're building. The goal is for them to say "yes" when you ask them if they will use or pay for your product once it's completed.

You can conduct surveys, ask your friends and family members, and even consult with your investors to validate your idea.

#4. Define Your Requirement

Once you have validated your idea and made sure it’s a good market fit, it's time to define your requirements. This is an important part of the process because it helps you know the resources needed to develop the SaaS product.

When defining the requirements, you must consider everything from technical parameters and the application architecture to security and activity monitoring. For instance, you must define how many developers you will need for your project. Likewise, you should also decide what security strategies you need to implement to protect data.

Consider this hypothetical scenario of a SaaS task management tool. The technical parameters can be something like how the user can access it - through a browser, a mobile, or both. The security requirement planning, on the other hand, can include what firewalls you will need, whether to implement multi-factor authentication or how and where to store customer data.

#5. Plan the Finances

Now that you have a good idea of your SaaS product, it's time to plan for the finances. This includes determining how much money it will cost to build and market your application and how much revenue you can expect from early adopters.

Planning out these details helps ensure that your business will be successful in the long run. 

For instance, if you don't plan the finances and end up overspending while building the MVP, you will have no money left to create the final product.

Selection Stage

The selection stage is all about making crucial decisions that can be the key to success for your SaaS application. 

Here, you will decide on things like the technology stack, development methodology, development team, etc.

Here are the steps involved in this vital stage of SaaS product development:

#6. Pick a Technology Stack

A technology stack is the set of technologies a company uses to build its SaaS product. This includes the front-end, back-end, and full-stack frameworks.

A front-end framework is responsible for how users interact with the product, while back-end frameworks handle data storage and processing. Full-stack frameworks handle both these areas and can be a foundation for building SaaS products.

Examples of common SaaS product frameworks include:

  • AngularJS
  • Node.JS
  • ReactJS
  • VueJS, etc.

These offer different approaches to development, but all share similar goals–-to make it easier for developers to create responsive user interfaces across various devices.

#7. Put Together a Development Team

Once you have decided on the technology stack, you must select a team of experienced developers to make it a reality. For example, it won't be helpful if you have chosen AngularJS as the framework and hired a team of developers more familiar with Laravel or Symfony.

Another important element is the size of the team, as it will directly impact the project's cost. If you're building a simple SaaS product, you may want to hire one or two full-time developers. However, if the project is complex and requires heavy customization, hiring more people and distributing tasks amongst them is better.

According to Jeff Bezos, a development team is too large if you can't feed them with two pizzas. So an ideal team should have no more than five to seven members.

It's also crucial for you as an entrepreneur to decide whether having an in-house development team is suitable for your business model.

An in-house team will be ideal if you have the right financial resources and are looking to work on multiple SaaS products. But if this is a one-time project or you don't have enough budget to give salaries to in-house employees, outsourcing it to a custom software developer or an agency will be the best option.

#8. Select Development Methodologies

Development methodologies are structured approaches or frameworks used in the process of developing software applications. These methodologies provide guidelines, processes, and practices for managing the various stages of software development.

You can use a wide variety of development methodologies to build your product. Some are more suited for certain types of products than others.

Here are some common SaaS product development methodologies:

  • Agile/Scrum: This popular methodology emphasizes collaboration between all parties involved in building software, including customers and other stakeholders. The goal is to produce working software every few weeks or months.
  • Waterfall: In this model, you work sequentially through defined stages such as requirements analysis, design, coding, and testing. While this approach may seem simple enough on paper, it often fails when applied too rigidly across an entire project lifecycle.
  • DevOps: DevOps combines development and operations, promoting team collaboration and communication. It focuses on automating the software delivery pipeline, including continuous integration, delivery, and deployment (CI/CD).
  • Lean Startup: The Lean Startup methodology, popularized by Eric Ries, applies to SaaS development, especially in the early stages. It emphasizes rapid experimentation and validated learning, helping SaaS startups build and test MVPs to gather user feedback and make informed decisions.
  • Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA): SOA is an architectural approach that involves designing applications as a collection of loosely coupled, modular services. This methodology aligns well with SaaS development, as it supports creating scalable and interoperable services that can be easily integrated and updated.

#9. Pick a Cloud Provider

Now that you have selected the technology stack, development team, and methodology, it's time to choose the cloud provider for your SaaS application. Many options are available in this space, including AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.

Choosing a cloud provider for your SaaS product development can be tricky, as each platform has many factors to consider, such as cost, performance, scalability, development environments, etc.

The first thing you need to do is determine whether your product needs a public or private cloud environment. This will help decide if you need to build dedicated hardware or just use virtual machines hosted by one of the public cloud providers in their data centers worldwide.

A public cloud environment refers to a cloud computing infrastructure owned and operated by a third party. AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, are examples of public cloud environments.

A private cloud is a cloud computing environment dedicated to a single organization. You can either build this on-premise or in a hosted data center. If you decide to go with on-premise cloud computing infrastructure, you will need to build dedicated hardware.

If it's a public solution, ensure they offer all the services your business needs. These can include databases (MySQL), object storage with S3 buckets, EC2 instances, etc.

#10. Choose a Pricing and Delivery Model

Another important thing to consider at this stage is the pricing and delivery models.

The pricing model will decide how you charge the users for accessing your SaaS solution. There are many different pricing models to choose from, such as:

  • Subscription Model: Customers pay a recurring fee to access the software and its features. The subscription model offers different tiers or plans with varying functionality, support, and usage limits. Salesforce and Netflix are examples of SaaS applications using a subscription model.
  • Usage-Based Model: In this model, the pricing is based on the actual usage or consumption of the software. Customers are charged based on metrics such as the number of active users, storage usage, data transfer, or API calls. Twilio and Grammarly are some examples of SaaS solutions using this pricing model.
  • Freemium Model: With the freemium model, the basic version of the software is offered for free, but advanced features or additional functionality are available at a cost. This model allows customers to try out the software before committing to a paid plan, and it can help drive user adoption and customer acquisition. Examples of SaaS applications using this pricing model include Slack and Dropbox.

As for the delivery model, it refers to how you want to allow the users to access your software. Some common delivery models include:

  • Cloud-Based Delivery: The SaaS product is hosted on cloud infrastructure, and customers access it through a web browser or dedicated application.
  • Mobile App Delivery: Some SaaS products are delivered through mobile applications, allowing users to access the software and its features on their smartphones or tablets. This will require you to create a SaaS mobile app for your solution.
  • Desktop Application Delivery: While less common in the SaaS space, some applications are delivered as downloadable desktop software. Customers install the software on their computers and use it locally. You will need a web application development team to develop a desktop app.

Development Stage

This is the last phase of SaaS product development, which involves creating the software.

Here are the steps involved in the development stage:

#11. Design User Flow and Wireframing

User flow refers to the path a user takes within a product or website to achieve a specific goal or complete a task. It outlines the sequential steps and interactions between different screens, features, or components of the software.

Wireframing, on the other hand, is creating a visual representation, usually in the form of a low-fidelity sketch or blueprint, that illustrates the layout and structure of a web or mobile application. Wireframes focus on the arrangement of elements, content hierarchy, and basic functionality, without getting into visual design details.

User flow and wireframing are crucial because they allow you to refine the design before making any significant investments in development. They help visualize how the product will look in practice.

You must define your target audience and research their preferences to make the right design for your SaaS product. You can sketch user flows and create wireframes based on the gathered information.

There are many ways to create wireframes. You can, for example, use pen and paper, whiteboards, sketching software like Sketch or Adobe XD, or prototyping tools like Axure RP Pro.

#11. Design the UI/UX

Designing your product's UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) is crucial to its success. The UI/UX design process begins by creating wireframes. Once you make the wireframes, you have to write the code to build the UI and UX. 

This is where your app design team and front-end development come into the picture.

Once the wireframes and prototypes are approved, the front-end development team moves on to the visual design phase. They work closely with graphic or UI designers to create visually appealing interfaces that align with the project's branding guidelines. This includes selecting colors, typography, and imagery and creating a consistent design language.

Using the finalized visual designs as a reference, the front-end developers begin coding the UI using HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) for structure and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for styling.

#13. Build an MVP

This is the stage where you start building the minimal model of your product, or the MVP. 

An MVP is a version of a product that is developed with the minimum set of features and functionalities required to meet the needs of early customers or users. For this reason, you can expect the MVP cost to be somewhere half the total SaaS product development cost.

The MVP development process involves many steps, such as:

  • Creating a SaaS product roadmap
  • Prioritizing features
  • Building the first basic version
  • Taking feedback from users and investors
  • Implementing the feedback and updating the application

Building an MVP in SaaS product development is vital because it offers many benefits. For instance, it allows you to validate your idea practically.  This involves monitoring how many people are using your app, how many are ready to pay for it, what problems they are facing while using it, etc.

Additionally, an MVP can also help you accelerate your product's time to market. The development time will reduce significantly since you will add only basic features. This will enable you to launch your final product quickly and acquire a larger market share.

#14. Start With SaaS Product Development

Once you have everything else ready, such as the wireframe, UI/UX design, and even the MVP, you should start focusing on building your final SaaS product.

This is where your development team will start working on coding the first version of the final product. Your SaaS project team will consider all the feedback received from MVP users and implement it in the product.

Based on the feedback, the development team will change the front-end and back-end codes and build a full-fledged software solution with all the features you have planned for the app.

For example, consider you are building a SaaS product for fitness tracking. Suppose the MVP is just a platform with a couple of features, such as fitness data tracking and analysis. Upon marketing the MVP, early users might suggest that the user interface feels crowded.

They might also suggest that you should add features like personalized workout recommendations or integration with smartwatches.

Your development team can consider such feedback and change the front-end and back-end codes to implement the feedback. This will make the early adopters feel like they are valued and help you build a better final product.

#15. Conduct Product Testing and Quality Assurance

Testing is a crucial part of SaaS product development. It's important to test your product before you launch it, and even more important to continue testing throughout its life cycle. Testing helps you ensure that your application is working as intended, meets user needs and expectations, and performs well in real-world scenarios.

Anyone on your team can do testing. Testers don't need any special skills or training beyond general knowledge about how the software works; that said if they do have specific testing experience, even better.

The most common types of tests include:

  • Unit Tests: Checks individual components
  • Integration Tests: Checks interactions between components
  • Functional Tests: Ensures users can complete specific tasks
  • Performance Tests: Measures response time under various load conditions
  • Security Audits/Penetration Tests: Identifies potential vulnerabilities

#16. Deploy and Launch the Product

Once you have a product ready for launch, it's time to get out there and start marketing your SaaS. You must reach out to the right people as soon as possible so they can try out what you've created. The sooner they start using it and giving feedback, the better!

Once people start using your software, they'll let their friends know how great it is, and those friends will sign up too!

#17. Optimize the Product

Optimization is a continuous process. It's about evaluating the performance of your product to improve its efficiency.

Optimization can be done in three ways:

  • Analyze Data: Analyze the data from your existing customers and identify areas where they struggle with using your product.
  • Get Feedback: Get feedback from them on how and what improvements they would like to see, and then implement these changes based on those suggestions.
  • Run A/B Tests: Run A/B tests on different versions of your site or app, like changing button colors or wording for certain features to see which performs better, and then make further changes accordingly.

Opportunities & Challenges Related To SaaS Development

As with many other software solutions, SaaS product development also has a set of opportunities and challenges. These can vary based on market trends and volatility.

Here are some opportunities and challenges you may face with SaaS product development.

7 Opportunities

The SaaS market is constantly evolving and creating several new opportunities for business in today's technology-driven world.

Here are some opportunities worth mentioning:

  1. Tapping into the AI/ML Potential: SaaS development can leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to enhance the capabilities of their products. AI/ML can automate tasks, provide intelligent insights, and improve efficiency.
  2. Expansion with Cloud Growth: The increasing adoption of cloud computing provides a significant opportunity for SaaS development. Cloud infrastructure allows SaaS providers to scale their solutions rapidly and reach a global customer base.
  3. Analytics-Centric SaaS Products: Developers can provide customers with valuable insights and data-driven decision-making tools by incorporating advanced analytics capabilities into SaaS offerings. Analytics-centric SaaS products have the potential to attract more customers and increase user satisfaction.
  4. Focus on Improving Customer Experience: Customer experience is crucial for SaaS success. SaaS developers can differentiate themselves and retain loyal customers by investing in user-friendly interfaces, intuitive workflows, and responsive customer support.
  5. Growing Inclination on Vertical SaaS: Vertical SaaS refers to a specific software designed to meet the needs of a particular market. Developing industry-specific SaaS products allows for deeper customization and targeting of specific customer needs, leading to increased adoption and revenue potential.
  6. Opportunity for Global Expansion: SaaS products are easily accessible worldwide, opening doors for global expansion. By localizing their offerings and addressing the needs of diverse markets, SaaS developers can tap into new customer bases and drive growth.
  7. Exploring IoT Solutions: Integrating SaaS solutions with the Internet of Things devices can enable real-time data collection, automation, and remote monitoring, creating new possibilities for businesses and consumers.

6 Challenges

While there are many opportunities in SaaS product development, there are also several challenges that you may encounter along the way.

Here are some common challenges faced in SaaS product development:

  1. Third-party Integration: SaaS products often need to integrate with various third-party services and APIs. Ensuring smooth integration, maintaining compatibility, and making sure no third-party data breaches occur can be challenging.
  2. Security and Protection of Data: SaaS developers must prioritize data security and privacy. Protecting customer data from breaches, implementing strong encryption, and complying with relevant regulations require ongoing attention and investment.
  3. Issue of Scalability and Future Updates: As SaaS user bases grow, ensuring scalability and handling future updates can become challenging. SaaS developers must design their architecture to handle increasing loads on servers and deliver seamless updates without disrupting the user experience.
  4. Managing the Lifecycle of Subscribers: SaaS providers need effective strategies for managing the lifecycle of subscribers. This includes onboarding new users, retaining existing ones, upselling, and providing customer support throughout the subscription period.
  5. Selecting Pricing and Delivery Model: Determining the right pricing structure and delivery model for a SaaS product is crucial for the success and profitability of your business. Balancing affordability, value proposition, and revenue generation requires careful analysis of market dynamics and customer preferences.
  6. Maintaining Consistency: SaaS products must consistently perform across different devices, operating systems, and network conditions. Ensuring compatibility, responsiveness, and usability across multiple platforms can be challenging.

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a SaaS Product

Building a SaaS product can be complex, and it's important to avoid common mistakes that can hinder its success.

Here are six mistakes to avoid when building a SaaS product:

  1. Lack of Market Need: One of the most critical mistakes is building a product without understanding market needs or validating the demand. Before investing significant time and resources, conduct thorough market research to ensure there is a genuine need for your product.
  2. Putting Together the Wrong Team: Hiring professionals who lack the right expertise or whose work doesn’t align with your vision can lead to subpar development, delays, and poor product performance.
  3. Selecting the Wrong Pricing Model: Choosing the wrong pricing model, such as overpricing or underpricing, can lead to customer dissatisfaction, revenue loss, or difficulty scaling. For instance, Transpose, an information management platform, failed due to a poor pricing strategy.
  4. Not Focusing on the Finances: Building and maintaining a SaaS product requires a lot of financial planning, including how much you should spend on market research or prototyping. Failing to adequately manage and monitor finances can result in budget overruns, insufficient resources for scaling, or an unsustainable business model.
  5. Undermining or Underemphasizing User Friendliness: User experience (UX) plays a crucial role in the success of a SaaS product. Neglecting user-friendliness can lead to low adoption rates, increased churn, and negative reviews. Invest in intuitive design, smooth navigation, and clear communication to deliver an exceptional user experience that keeps customers engaged and satisfied.
  6. Not Offering a Great Onboarding Experience: A poor onboarding experience can hinder user adoption and engagement. If users struggle to understand your product or find it challenging to get started, they may abandon it before realizing its full potential.

How Much Does SaaS Product Development Cost?

SaaS product development costs can range between $40,000 and $200,000, but there's also a chance that the costs exceed this range. 

The reason behind such a vast difference between the lower and upper limits is the number of factors that can drive the cost of SaaS software development.

Here are some key factors that can impact the cost:

  • Team Size: A larger team may be required for complex projects or to expedite development. However, a larger team also means higher resource costs.
  • SaaS Product Complexity: If the software requires advanced functionalities, intricate business logic, or integration with multiple systems, it may require more time and effort to develop, leading to higher costs.
  • Technological Architecture: Some architectures may require specialized skills or infrastructure, which can increase development costs. Additionally, licensing fees for specific technologies or frameworks can impact the overall cost of SaaS product development.

8 Tips to Succeed With SaaS

A great idea is not enough for successful SaaS product development. There are many other things you need to consider.

Here are some tips that can help you with SaaS development:

  1. Know Your Audience, Market, & Competitors Alike: Understanding your target audience, the market you're entering, and your competitors are crucial. Conduct thorough market research to identify your customers' pain points, preferences, and needs. Analyze your competitors' strengths and weaknesses to differentiate your SaaS offering.
  2. Validate Your Idea With an MVP: Before investing significant resources, build an MVP to test your SaaS idea in the market. Gather feedback from early adopters, refine your product based on their input, and iterate until you achieve product-market fit.
  3. Identify Concerns: Anticipate and address potential concerns that customers might have regarding your SaaS solution. This could include data security, scalability, integration capabilities, or user onboarding. Being proactive in addressing these concerns builds trust and confidence in your offering.
  4. Collaborate With Companies: Forge partnerships or collaborations with complementary businesses or industry leaders. This can help you gain credibility, access new markets, and leverage your customer base.
  5. Narrow Down Product Scope: Focus on solving a specific problem exceptionally well rather than catering to a broad range of needs. By narrowing down your product scope, you can deliver a more targeted and refined solution, making it easier to market and differentiate from competitors.
  6. Choose the Right Pricing Model: Determine your SaaS product's most suitable pricing model. Options include subscription-based pricing, usage-based pricing, freemium models, or tiered pricing based on feature sets. Ensure your pricing aligns with your product's value and resonates with your target audience.
  7. Understand User Touchpoints: Map out the user journey and identify critical touchpoints where customers interact with your SaaS product. Optimize these touchpoints for a seamless user experience, from onboarding to ongoing support.
  8. Choose the Right SaaS Product Development Partner: If you need external assistance developing your SaaS product, select a reliable and experienced development partner. Look for a partner who understands your vision, has domain expertise, and can provide the technical capabilities required for your product's success.

Make IT Simple can be the SaaS product development company you are looking for. We have an experienced team of software developers that can help you with end-to-end application development needs.


Developing a SaaS product requires careful planning and execution to ensure its success in a competitive market. Following the steps outlined in this article can lay a solid foundation for your SaaS product development journey.

At MakeITSimple, we understand SaaS product development's unique challenges and opportunities. Our experienced team is committed to providing tailored solutions that align with your budget and development goals.

Contact us today for a free consultation, and let's discuss how we can help you navigate the exciting journey of successfully bringing your SaaS product to market.

Related Articles: 

SaaS Mobile App Development - 8 Steps to a Great SaaS App
29+ Top SaaS Ideas & Examples in 2023 (to Inspire You)
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