The five principles of the HiveCPQ SaaS platform
There are a lot of things for us to take into consideration when we’re building Hive as a SaaS or Software as a Service platform. The main challenge is that the system must be a great fit for a very broad range of users. What do you prioritize in that case when building a SaaS? After years of experience, we have got five principles that guide us to build a powerful CPQ platform.
First principle: Focus on flexibility
One of the most important principles for the development of Hive is the focus on flexibility. This stems from the fact that with every implementation, we meet new challenges, varying from additional checks during the ordering process to the calculation of volume discounts. That is why we pay a lot of attention to keeping our developments as generic as possible and being able to apply new features within specific customer cases.
Hive’s CPQ engine is our most flexible piece of software. We work together with our customers to find their customized, optimal way to guide users to buy or sell complex products. The CPQ engine is used for product configurations and for calculating volumes across different products. This gives our customers even more freedom and allows them to add or change the settings to the configurator or the product store. Aside from our CPQ engine, Hive also gives users the possibility to implement extra scripts within certain actions on the platform. The product store can for example be set up to validate whether a certain spare part fits a configuration.
A SaaS platform has to be suitable for a lot of different customers. It has to fit a company’s way of working. That is why Hive allows to extend the platform with external modules or systems through plugins. This way, every customer can build their own CPQ solution based on their needs, while Hive can continue to evolve independently. It is important that the extensiveness of a SaaS platform can be supported in a sustainable way, through backward compatible and long-term support.
Second principle: A highly performant CPQ engine
Our CPQ engine lies at the core of Hive. With every change in a configuration, this engine has to recalculate over a thousand rules. This requires a lot of computing power and proves the importance of an excellent performance, which is our second principle.
Within our CPQ we keep detailed data about the engine’s performance. On the one hand, this allows us to guarantee that the performance stays on a high level when we’re implementing new features. On the other hand, the data is also used during the set-up of the CPQ engine, giving users an estimation of the performance of the configurator beforehand.
To improve our performance, Hive uses caching and smart paths. Through caching, our configurator remembers complex calculations, leading to a speed gain of up to 500%. The engine will decide independently where caching can be applied. Using the smart paths technique, calculations are saved per step in the configuration. This allows us to reduce the number of calculations necessary and to increase the speed. On top of that, Hive provides a separate CPQ server infrastructure per customer to guarantee an excellent performance.
Third principle: A safe and reliable platform
The third principle we use when building our SaaS platform, involves safety. Hive is a cloud-based solution, making it very easy to use and available always and anywhere. However, this requires more attention on the security side.
That is why we have decided to leave the management of accounts and credentials to Auth0. This service guarantees a safe storage of user passwords, Single Sign On integration with LDAP and Active Directory, 2 factor authentication, and Social Login. Hive also handles customer data in a safe manner. As previously mentioned, Hive is built as a multitenant platform, which means we automatically separate data. This information is encrypted in our databank and in our services.
Traditional software usually secures data using a role system: based on someone’s role within a company, that person will automatically be granted or denied access. The roles and permissions have been predetermined. A SaaS solution like Hive is a lot more flexible: the platform can be used in multiple environments with different roles. Every customer can create their own roles or make adjustments if necessary. That’s how we make our solution tailored to our customers.
We make Hive a safe and reliable platform using Auth0, encryption, and our unique role system.
Fourth principle: Built to integrate
Hive needs a set of master data to be able to function correctly. This involves data about customers, articles, product rules, prices or the data elements a configurator needs to calculate the correct price or to generate a Bill Of Material. This information can be uploaded manually, but can also automatically be transferred from the ERP, CRM or PIM systems customers already have. The fourth principle of Hive is therefore ‘Built to integrate’.
A SaaS solution needs a clear integration strategy. At Hive, we build connections in three different ways: using a Rest API, using our own integration platforms, or through plugins. The Rest API is the core of our strategy. It was built for system integrations to guarantee a smooth synchronization of data. Our API also allows customers to develop their own UI on top of the Hive platform. The API should be extremely stable: this means that Hive is expandable and backward compatible. We also provide customers with a developer portal, where we keep all documentation for building integrations.
Integrations are essential to guarantee a proper functioning of the SaaS. Hive builds connections using API’s, integration platforms and plugins.
Fifth principle: Software crafters
Lastly, if you want to build a platform like Hive, you will need craftsmen. People who understand how to build a SaaS, but also keep an eye out for the customer’s needs and who know how to translate these into the product.
The challenges for building a SaaS in terms of scalability, integrations, flexibility, and expandability are a lot more prominent than for building traditional applications. That’s why you’ll need expert software builders: These are often people who enjoy the challenges that come with building a SaaS. They are specialized in several technical domains and look back on years of experience. At Hive CPQ, we’re proud of the people who work on our platform and take it to the next level every day!
Building a SaaS architecture requires a different strategy than making traditional, “in-house” applications, because a service platform has to be a great fit for a very broad audience. At Hive, we rely on five principles for building our SaaS solution.These five ideas have helped Hive to grow into an excellent platform with:
- A strong focus on flexibility
- A highly performant CPQ
- Measures to guarantee the safety and reliability of the platform
- Possibilities to build integrations
- And the knowledge and experience of experts in building this kind of architecture.
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