SaaS sprawl refers to the uncontrolled proliferation of SaaS applications within an organization, leading to data silos and security risks.
It can cause a significant business impact if it isn’t addressed and managed swiftly. However, managing SaaS sprawl isn’t easy, as it poses credible challenges that can be hard to control.
We previously discussed the business impact and challenges of SaaS sprawl, which you can check out here.
Effective management of SaaS sprawl can help businesses avoid the risks of unmanaged SaaS, redundancies, and security vulnerabilities.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to manage SaaS sprawl and offer some best practices to follow in 2023. These tips will help you stay on top of your SaaS applications and secure your data.
Best Practices to manage and overcome SaaS sprawl
Managing SaaS sprawl can be a breeze if you follow these best practices:
1. Centralize your SaaS applications for easy management
To effectively manage SaaS sprawl, you’ll need a bird's-eye view of your SaaS stack. It’ll enable your IT team to manage the SaaS applications in a centralized and organized manner, which can reduce the risks associated with SaaS sprawl.
With a centralized SaaS management framework, the IT team can keep track of all SaaS applications, enforce security and compliance policies, prevent shadow IT, and eliminate free and redundant apps in your system.
Additionally, centralized SaaS management helps with easy license tracking, allocation, and reclamation and ensures that the business only pays for the licenses with optimal usage. Streamlining your SaaS environment can achieve significant cost savings and reduce risk exposure.
2. Create SaaS adoption guidelines and policies
This is a crucial step in managing SaaS sprawl. The guidelines should clearly outline the company's SaaS app usage, purchasing, and implementation policies. They should specify the approval process for new SaaS applications, the criteria for selecting a SaaS vendor, and the security and data privacy standards that must be met.
Employees should be aware of the policies and trained to adhere to them. This helps ensure that the SaaS apps used in the company are in line with the company's overall objectives, policies, and standards.
The guidelines should also be reviewed and updated regularly to keep pace with the fast-changing SaaS landscape. By establishing clear procedures, companies can ensure that SaaS apps are used consistently, securely, and efficiently, reducing the risk of SaaS sprawl.
3. Conduct regular SaaS audits to identify redundancies
Regular SaaS audits are crucial to managing SaaS sprawl and ensuring the efficient use of cloud-based software. These audits allow organizations to regularly assess and review their software and ensure it is still relevant and necessary.
Audits can help identify duplicate, redundant, and free apps cluttering your SaaS stack. By eliminating these redundancies, you can get rid of SaaS sprawl.
These audits should be conducted regularly, or at least once a quarter, to reduce the risk of SaaS sprawl and ensure that their cloud-based software usage is optimized and secure.
4. Use a SaaS management tool
How will you centralize your SaaS portfolio and get complete visibility on apps, licenses, spend, and vendors?
If you’re tracking your SaaS apps manually, your portfolios are prone to SaaS sprawl, shadow IT, increased spending, and security risks. This is why you must use a SaaS management platform.
A SaaS management platform will enable you to manage and optimize SaaS applications within an organization. It can integrate with your internal systems, discover all applications your teams are using, and organize them in a centralized dashboard.
Now, you’ll have complete visibility over the apps your teams are using, and it’ll make it easier for you to find free, duplicate, and redundant apps in your system. Eliminating them will put an end to SaaS sprawl.
Using SaaS management tools, you can minimize the risks associated with SaaS sprawl and gain greater control over your SaaS environment. This can result in improved operational efficiency, reduced costs, and a more secure SaaS landscape.
5. Be proactive in preventing Shadow IT
Shadow IT refers to the purchase of SaaS applications without IT approval. It is one of the primary factors that lead to SaaS sprawl. Employees unaware of your SaaS adoption guidelines will use company credit cards to purchase applications.
Your IT or finance team won’t be able to identify these applications, resulting in hidden expenses, security risks, sprawl, and budget overruns. By using a SaaS management platform like CloudEagle, you can be more proactive in preventing shadow IT.
The best practice is to stop shadow IT in its early stages. You can configure alerts in CloudEagle to receive alerts when an unsanctioned application enters your system. You’ll receive an in-app notification alert or via Slack whenever a user purchases an unsanctioned application.
You can then email the user who purchased them and make an informed decision on eliminating them from your system. This is how you can be proactive in stopping shadow IT using CloudEagle.
6. Rationalize your SaaS stack
With centralized visibility and regular audits, you’ll better understand your portfolio and easily identify free, redundant apps. Application rationalization is the process of eliminating redundancies in your portfolio. It’s like de-cluttering your SaaS stack.
You can use SaaS management platforms like CloudEagle for app rationalization. It can integrate with your internal systems and automatically identify free, unused, or redundant apps in your stack, saving you time and manual effort.
Application rationalization will enable you to make informed decisions on which applications you should:
- Keep: Continue using.
- Replace: Swap it for a better alternative.
- Retire: Eliminate the app from your portfolio.
- Consolidate: Merge two or more overlapping applications into one.
By rationalizing your stack, you can ensure your portfolio is free of redundancies and security risks. It’ll also enable you to allocate or redirect your budget to critical functions or tools.
7. Train and educate your employees
Employees must understand the company's SaaS policies, usage guidelines, and the potential impact of unauthorized or misused software. Regular training sessions and workshops can ensure that employees are up-to-date with the new policies and processes.
Educate your employees on the risks of SaaS sprawl and why they shouldn't purchase applications without IT approval. Also, let them know about the policies and consequences for purchasing unsanctioned applications.
In addition, you can create a SaaS knowledge base, FAQs, or a SaaS champion program to provide continuous support and encourage employees to ask questions.
8. Automating the SaaS procurement process
The lack of a standardized procurement process influences users to purchase apps without IT approval for immediate needs, increasing SaaS sprawl.
Manual procurement processes are prone to delays, human errors, and sometimes, the requests get lost midway through the process. This will push the user to purchase and use an application independently (shadow IT).
So, to effectively manage and eliminate SaaS sprawl, you must use automated procurement workflows to streamline your process. Automation will provide complete transparency over the process and expedite SaaS purchasing.
With a streamlined procurement process, you can ensure your teams follow the right way to purchase SaaS applications. The transparency and agility provided by the automated procurement process will prevent users from purchasing SaaS on their own.
You’ll need a procurement automation tool like CloudEagle to automate SaaS buying. Its workflows will save time for your procurement team and ensure that your stack only contains vetted and sanctioned applications.
Overall, these best practices provide a roadmap for organizations to manage SaaS sprawl and overcome its challenges.
By implementing these strategies, IT, procurement, and finance departments can effectively control the proliferation of cloud-based applications and keep their networks secure, efficient, and productive.
The Need For SaaS Sprawl Management
The rise of SaaS applications within an organization has brought various challenges for businesses, the chief among them being SaaS sprawl. This can be challenging to manage, resulting in decreased efficiency, higher costs, and increased security risks.
That's why SaaS sprawl management is so critical for modern businesses. It’ll help you eliminate redundancies, improve efficiency, and reduce security risks by taking a strategic, centralized approach to managing SaaS applications.
And that's where CloudEagle comes in. Our platform will provide complete app visibility, accurate usage and spend insights, including cost optimization recommendations to manage SaaS sprawl and minimize risks.
From automated SaaS procurement, app discovery, and contract management to cost optimization, CloudEagle makes it easy to regain control of your SaaS environment and ensure that your organization operates at peak efficiency.
With a centralized dashboard, real-time reports, instant alerts, app usage insights, and user visibility, you can comfortably stay on top of your SaaS portfolio and overcome the challenges of SaaS sprawl.
SaaS sprawl is a growing concern for organizations that use cloud-based software applications. The uncontrolled proliferation of multiple SaaS applications can lead to increased costs, security risks, and difficulty managing the software and data.
To mitigate the challenges of SaaS sprawl, you should adopt best practices such as centralizing the management of software applications, preventing shadow IT, rationalizing your SaaS stack, automating your procurement process, etc.
By following these best practices, organizations can effectively manage SaaS sprawl and reap the benefits of cloud-based software applications.
Don't let SaaS sprawl get the best of you. Take control of your cloud-based software applications with CloudEagle today.