On Premise vs SaaS: Key Differences in Product Roles 💡

In the software industry, there are two major categories of products: On-Premise Software and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). These two types of software differ in many ways, including the product role and the end user experience. In this blog post, we will explore the key differences in product role for On-Premise vs SaaS and shed light on the unique challenges and opportunities that each presents for a Senior Product Manager.


As a Senior Product Manager at Intuit and with previous experience at Oracle, I have had the opportunity to work with both On-Premise and SaaS products. One of the key differences I have observed is the level of involvement and collaboration with end users.

On-Premise Software: A Customized Approach

When it comes to On-Premise software, end users are actively involved in the product development process. They work closely with the product team, expressing their specific requirements and customizations. This level of customization is akin to building your own house, where you work with contractors and professionals to create the exact features and design you want for your home.

In this scenario, the product requirements are highly customized and specific to each client. The product manager works closely with the client to understand their unique needs and build a tailored solution. This high level of involvement allows for a deep understanding of the client’s business processes and enables customized feature development.

SaaS: Standardization and Best Practices

In contrast, the SaaS model operates on a different premise. With a potentially larger customer base, it is not feasible for a product provider to customize the offering for every single customer. Instead, the focus shifts towards standardized feature requirements and enabling best practices.

Companies like SAP and Oracle have extensive experience working with numerous customers in the SaaS ecosystem. They have incorporated industry best practices into their products, ensuring that new customers can benefit from these established standards. By leveraging these best practices, SaaS products offer a more streamlined, efficient experience for users.

Challenges and Considerations

While SaaS brings numerous advantages, there are also unique challenges that Product Managers must address.

The Risk of Breaking Business Processes

In a traditional B2C setting like Google Maps, a broken feature may inconvenience users, but it does not have significant consequences. However, in a B2B setting, the impact of a broken feature or change in functionality can be much more severe. Product Managers in the SaaS space must ensure that any updates or additions to the product do not disrupt the business processes of their clients. Failure to do so can result in strained relationships and potential contract terminations.

Business Continuity and Renewals

For SaaS companies, maintaining strong relationships with customers is crucial, as contract renewals are a significant driver of revenue. Product Managers must focus on ensuring a seamless transition and business continuity for their clients. This involves thorough testing, clear communication, and delivering updates that align with customer expectations.


The product role in On-Premise vs SaaS differs significantly. In On-Premise software, Senior Product Managers work closely with clients to create customized solutions that meet their specific needs. In the SaaS space, the focus shifts towards standardized features and best practices that cater to a larger customer base.

While SaaS offers many benefits, such as efficiency and scalability, it also presents unique challenges. Product Managers must carefully navigate these challenges to ensure a seamless user experience and maintain strong relationships with their clients.

As the software industry continues to evolve, understanding these key differences in product role for On-Premise vs SaaS is essential for Senior Product Managers. By embracing the strengths of each model and addressing their respective challenges, Product Managers can successfully navigate the dynamic landscape of the software industry.

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