Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 28 Number 3 2011 pp. 85-126

Service Quality in Software-as-a-Service: Developing the SaaS-Qual Measure and Examining Its Role in Usage Continuance

Benlian, Alexander, Koufaris, Marios, and Hess, Thomas

ABSTRACT: Despite the need to better understand how customers of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions perceive the quality of these software services and how these perceptions influence SaaS adoption and use, there is no extant measure that comprehensively captures service quality evaluations in SaaS. Based on previous SERVQUAL and SaaS literature, field interviews and focus groups, a card-sorting exercise, and two surveys of SaaS using companies, we develop, refine, and test SaaS-Qual, a zones-of-tolerance (ZOT)-based service quality measurement instrument specifically for SaaS solutions. Besides validating already established service quality dimensions (i.e., rapport, responsiveness, reliability, and features), we identify two new factors (i.e., security and flexibility) that are essential for the evaluation of service quality of SaaS solutions. SaaS-Qual demonstrates strong psychometric properties and shows high nomological validity within a framework that predicts the continued use of SaaS solutions by existing customers. In addition to developing a validated instrument that provides a fine-grained measurement of SaaS service quality, we also enrich existing research models on information systems continuance. Moreover, the SaaS-Qual instrument can be used as a diagnostic tool by SaaS providers and users alike to spot strengths and weaknesses in the service delivery of SaaS solutions.

Key words and phrases: information systems continuance, SaaS-Qual, service quality, SERVQUAL, software as a service, zones of tolerance