Automation is the Game-changer in SaaS management: Here's Why!

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Calender
June 14, 2024
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Are you managing your SaaS stack manually, using spreadsheets to track licenses, subscriptions, agreements, and other assets? If so, you’re missing out on opportunities to optimize your SaaS portfolio and save on spend.

Automation is the key to effectively managing your software assets. SaaS management without automation is redundant, and it's time for you to switch to automated software for SaaS management.

SaaS management platforms (SMPs), which utilize advanced workflows to automate various repetitive tasks, can simplify and transform how organizations manage their SaaS stack.

These tools offer a comprehensive view of the SaaS stack and provide real-time feature-level usage insights. This saves time and enables you to make better cost optimization decisions and take control of your SaaS stack.

Automation can transform how you manage your organization's SaaS stack. This article will help you understand the key benefits of automation in SaaS management and explain why it is essential for businesses.

What is SaaS management?

SaaS management involves overseeing and optimizing an organization's SaaS applications. This includes tracking and managing licenses, subscriptions, usage, costs, security, and compliance.

The goal is to ensure that the organization gets the maximum value from its SaaS investments while minimizing waste and reducing risks.

As businesses increasingly rely on SaaS tools to enhance productivity and streamline operations, effectively managing these applications becomes crucial.

  • It promotes cost efficiency by identifying unused licenses and optimizing those for reuse, leading to significant cost savings.
  • Centralizing SaaS app management streamlines operations, reducing the administrative burden on IT departments and improving overall productivity.
  • Regular monitoring of SaaS apps ensures compliance with security standards, safeguarding sensitive data and enhancing security.
  • By providing insights into app usage and performance, SaaS management enables organizations to decide which tools to keep, upgrade, or discontinue.

What are the risks of unmanaged SaaS?

Unmanaged SaaS poses several risks to organizations, including:

1. Shadow IT and SaaS sprawl

Unmanaged SaaS can lead to Shadow IT and SaaS sprawl, which are significant risks for any organization. Shadow IT occurs when different departments or employees use SaaS tools without the IT department's knowledge or approval. This can result in a proliferation of unapproved applications across the organization.

SaaS Sprawl refers to the uncontrolled spread of these SaaS applications, making it difficult to track and manage all the tools used within the organization.

When SaaS applications are managed manually, there is often no comprehensive visibility into all the software utilized. This lack of visibility makes it easy to shadow IT and SaaS sprawl.

Without a centralized system to monitor and manage these applications, the organization can quickly lose track of who is using what, leading to inefficiencies, increased costs, and potential security risks.

For instance, the marketing team might use a different project management tool than the one approved by IT, while the sales team adopts a new CRM system without IT's knowledge.

2. Increased SaaS spending

Without centralized management, organizations may purchase duplicate or unnecessary SaaS subscriptions. This can lead to inflated spending as each department or team independently buys tools without considering existing resources.

For example, one department might subscribe to a collaboration tool while another team signs up for a similar platform, resulting in duplicate expenses.

3. Poor ROI due to underutilization

Organizations may invest in expensive SaaS tools but fail to utilize them fully. This results in poor return on investment (ROI) as they are not maximizing the benefits of the tools they've purchased.

For instance, a company might subscribe to a comprehensive analytics platform but only use it for basic reporting, missing its advanced analytical features.

4. Contract breaches due to overutilization

Some organizations may exceed the usage limits outlined in their SaaS contracts, leading to potential breaches and additional charges. Without proper monitoring, these breaches can be easily overlooked until it's too late.

This overutilization can lead to breaches of contract terms, such as exceeding the maximum number of users or data storage limits.

Without proper monitoring and management, these breaches may go unnoticed until the organization receives additional charges or penalties from the SaaS provider.

5. Hidden costs due to auto-renewals

Many SaaS contracts include automatic renewal clauses, where subscriptions are renewed at the end of the contract period unless explicitly canceled.

Organizations may continue paying for unused or outdated subscriptions due to oversight or lack of evaluation.

These auto-renewals result in hidden costs accumulating over time, impacting the organization's budget without providing corresponding value.

For instance, a company might forget to cancel a subscription for a project management tool that is no longer needed, leading to unnecessary expenses.

How is automation a game-changer in SaaS management?

Automation is a game-changer in SaaS management. It simplifies tedious tasks, enhances efficiency, and ensures compliance with licensing agreements and security policies.

1. Automated app discovery

An SMP easily integrates with your existing single sign-on (SSO), HRIS, finance systems, and other direct integrations. The tool’s automated SaaS app discovery feature gives you a complete bird's eye view of your SaaS stack.

By automatically scanning your SaaS stack, SMPs identify all installed applications, giving administrators a comprehensive inventory. This automation eliminates the need to list your SaaS apps manually.

You gain detailed insights into app usage, spending, and user activity, offering a comprehensive view of your entire SaaS ecosystem. This helps finance teams save money, simplifies purchasing for procurement teams, and prevents unauthorized spending and hidden IT issues for IT teams.

Image of CloudEagle's app discovery module

For example, suppose an employee installs a new app on a work device without IT approval. With automated app discovery, the SMP quickly identifies the unauthorized app.

This allows administrators to take appropriate actions, such as ensuring the app complies with company policies, addressing any security issues, or removing the app if it poses a risk.

Additionally, with automated shadow IT alerts, administrators can configure notifications to be alerted whenever an unsanctioned application is detected.

This proactive approach helps prevent shadow IT from becoming a significant problem, ensuring the organization’s IT environment remains secure and compliant.

2. Extracting metadata from software contracts

Sifting through all the contract details can be a hassle when dealing with multiple software contracts. Automation simplifies this by extracting key information, like contract expiration dates, pricing details, and licensing terms, from contracts and storing them in a centralized database.

Some advanced SMPs utilize AI-powered metadata extraction capabilities, eliminating the need to extract contract details manually. This means you can easily access all the essential information required to manage your software subscriptions effectively.

After extracting metadata, the system automatically creates a renewal calendar, ensuring you never miss a renewal. It pulls relevant details such as renewal dates, contract terms, and notification periods from the metadata of each software agreement.

This information is compiled into a comprehensive calendar that tracks all upcoming renewals. Alerts and reminders are set up to notify you well before each renewal date, allowing ample time for review and action.

Image of CloudEagle's renewal workflow module

3. Harvest unused licenses with reclamation workflows

Sometimes, employees may have access to software licenses that they no longer use.

Image of CloudEagle's unused licenses worklfows

Harvesting unused licenses is a smart strategy to optimize software resources within an organization. With automation, you can set up reclamation workflows that automatically identify and reclaim these unused licenses.

Let's say your company has purchased a subscription to a project management tool that allows for 100 user licenses. Over time, as the team changes and projects evolve, some employees may no longer actively use the tool, yet their licenses remain assigned.

Image showing CloudEagle's usage insights

Without proper management, these licenses go to waste, resulting in unnecessary costs for the company. To address this, you can leverage automation to implement license reclamation workflows.

Here's how it works:

  • Automation continuously monitors user activity within the project management tool. If an employee hasn't logged in or utilized the tool for a specified period, the automation system flags their license as potentially unused.
  • The system then notifies the IT or software management team about the identified unused licenses. The team reviews the flagged licenses to ensure accuracy and relevance.
  • Upon confirmation, the automation system automatically revokes access to the project management tool for the identified users. This action frees up the unused licenses, making them available for reallocation.
  • The freed-up licenses can now be allocated to other employees or team members who need access to the project management tool. This ensures that software resources are utilized optimally, maximizing the value of the subscription.

4. Staying ahead of renewals and saving spend

Keeping track of software license renewals can be daunting, especially managing many subscriptions. However, an automation tool ensures you never miss a deadline.

SMPs can send you timely renewal reminders well in advance, such as 30, 60, or even 90 days before the renewal dates. It gives you ample time to prepare and budget accordingly. Moreover, automation doesn't stop there; it analyzes usage data to identify opportunities for cost savings.

Image showing CloudEagle renewal workflows

For instance, if it detects that you're not fully utilizing all the features of a subscription, it may suggest downgrading to a lower-tier plan to optimize expenses while still meeting your needs.

To learn how it works, look at this case study on how WeFunder automated contract renewals with CloudEagle Renewal Reminders.

5. Streamlining purchase request approvals for procurement

Manual procurement processes can be a hassle. Purchase requests often get lost in emails and paperwork, leading to delays and frustration. This can prompt employees to buy software independently, creating shadow IT with unauthorized apps that pose security risks and compliance issues.

SMPs streamline this by automating the approval workflow. For example, when an employee submits a purchase request, automation can route it to the appropriate approver based on predefined rules, such as budget thresholds or departmental policies. This speeds up the approval process and ensures that purchases are made efficiently and within budget.

Image showing CloudEagle's procurement workflows

Slack-enabled workflows

Some SMPs, like CloudEagle, incorporate Slack-enabled workflows, allowing employees to submit purchase requests directly through Slack. This triggers the necessary workflows, notifies stakeholders, and creates private channels for collaboration, ensuring requests aren’t overlooked.

Once approved, CloudEagle’s experts handle negotiations to secure the best deals. This automation saves time, reduces frustration, and keeps the procurement process efficient and secure.

This streamlined process automatically routes requests to relevant stakeholders for approval, expediting the process and boosting overall efficiency.

6. Auto-provisioning and deprovisioning

Automating the employee onboarding and offboarding process is a significant relief for organizations. When a new employee joins, it's crucial to provide them with swift access to the necessary SaaS tools.

Similarly, promptly revoking an employee's SaaS access when they leave the organization is essential. Additionally, mid-cycle changes such as promotions or departmental shifts may require access to new SaaS tools.

Automating these processes using auto-provisioning and deprovisioning workflows streamlines managing user access to software tools. An efficient SMP tool can automate the entire process.

Image showing CloudEagle's auto-provisioning rules

This automation ensures that new employees have immediate access to the necessary tools and that departing employees lose access just as quickly, minimizing security risks.

This enhances the efficiency of initiating and executing the process, eliminating IT managers' need for frequent intervention. This, in turn, frees up their time for more meaningful work, enhancing overall productivity.

Alice Park from Remediant faced time-consuming manual user access management, hopping between apps to revoke permissions. CloudEagle changed the game by centralizing control, freeing Alice to focus on strategic tasks while ensuring swift, secure user deprovisioning.

Conclusion

The significance of automation in SaaS management cannot be overstated. Automation is a game-changer in SaaS management.

Automating routine tasks, streamlining processes, and enhancing decision-making capabilities transform how businesses manage their software resources.

By reducing manual labor and optimizing resources, automation returns more dollars to your pocket, allowing you to do more with less.

With automation, you can sleep easy knowing that your SaaS tools are always up-to-date, secure, and compliant with regulations. You can also stay agile in a fast-paced world, adapting to changes and seizing opportunities.

If you are looking for someone to help take your SaaS management process to the next level, look no further than CloudEagle.

Sign up for a free demo today and see how effortless yet efficient SaaS management could be.

Written by
Raja Adhikary
Content Writer
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