Thoughts on what businesses actually need from the Cloud, not what vendors wish they needed.

Chris Bliss

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Introducing… the “VM Approved” Award


As regular readers know, we review dozens of SaaS applications every month. Our intent? Finding the best the web has to offer, particularly for small to medium sized businesses. It’s our job to find the real gems, the applications and services that make business better.

Hence today’s announcement: “VM Approved,” an award we’re handing out to SaaS applications that get an “A” on our SaaS scorecard, detailed below. VM Approved recipients are secure, easy to use, highly functional services that provide real business value to business customers. They’re the services we recommend to clients, the best of the best, and they represent the cutting edge of business technology. Recipients are highlighted on our blog and receive a “A+ Re viewed and Approved” graphic they can display on their website. Look for it!

The details

So what does the VM Approved award actually signify? Below are the details on our scoring system. For details pertaining to specific SaaS applications, see their original review on our blog.

Every reviewed application is assessed on 6 main categories: functionality, usability, security, integrations, price, and support. Every category has a certain number of possible points, for a total of 100. “A+” recipients – to whom we give the VM Approved Award – must score between 90 and 100 points. “B” recipients receive between 70 and 89 points. Everyone else is a “C” (boooo!).

A+ B C
Proven Promising Poor
90-100 points 70-89 points <69 points


Here are the questions we ask of each category:

Functionality (30 possible points)

  • Does the application serve its stated purpose?
  • Is the approach substantially different from leading competitors? If so, is it innovation for innovation’s sake, or do its differences serve a purpose? If it’s similar, is it more or less functional than the competition?
  • Is the feature set robust? Is the pipeline for upcoming features exciting?

Usability (20 possible points)

  • Is the user interface intuitive?
  • Is it “fun”? Nice to look at and work with?
  • Are features readily accessible?
  • Are call to actions obvious and helpful, or overwhelming?

Security (20 possible points)

  • Are there strong authentication controls for verifying users? Multi-factor authentication options?
  • Authorization controls for deciding who has access to what?
  • Information is encrypted?
  • Highly available, redundant infrastructure? Real time replication, multiple connections, alternate power sources, emergency response systems?

Integrations (10 possible points)

  • Open API for custom development?
  • Native integrations with complementary services? Do they provide real value or only lip-service value?

Price (10 possible points)

  • Is price competitive given target customers?
  • Does it scale relative to value it provides, or arbitrarily?

Support (10 possible points)

  • Is there a supportive ecosystem?
  • Are CSR reps responsive and transparent?
  • During past interruptions in service, has the company been transparent and honest?

Look for the VM Approved award when you choosing applications for your business, knowing it satisfies high standards of quality and business value. Don’t settle for anything less!

VM Associates is a cloud computing consultancy firm that specializes in mapping unique business processes into next-generation solutions.

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.