Are you tired of tracking your SaaS applications using spreadsheets? Here’s an easier way to manage SaaS apps and optimize your stack.
A few years back, SaaS apps were rarely seen in businesses, but now they have gone mainstream and are an inevitable part of organizations, pushing back legacy applications.
Experts refer to this rapid adoption of SaaS applications by businesses as a ‘SaaS explosion.’
But ‘SaaS explosion’ came with consequences.
Using 100s of SaaS applications is good, but businesses relied on spreadsheets to manage and scrutinize their SaaS stack, and things spiraled out of control.
Without a proper SaaS management strategy in place, businesses risk overspending, data security breaches, and inefficiencies that can negatively impact their SaaS ecosystem.
So arises the need for effective SaaS management.
What is SaaS management?
It is a modern-day business practice of managing and monitoring the purchase, integrations, usage, renewal, licensing, and off-boarding of SaaS apps. It is similar to maintaining a company’s technology portfolio for diverse applications.
Using outdated methods such as spreadsheets to manage and track SaaS applications is not a feasible or secure practice.
With the growing number of SaaS apps, such as Zoom, Salesforce, Asana, etc., in your SaaS stack, there is a pressing need not to overlook enterprise SaaS management.
SaaS applications enable organizations to enhance efficiency and establish a more collaborative work setting, ultimately producing high-quality products or services.
However, neglecting SaaS app management can lead to increased SaaS expenses, an inferior work culture, and subpar outcomes.
Poor SaaS management is a recipe for mediocrity
Multiple SaaS applications and licenses often make it hard for the IT department to implement the best practices for SaaS management.
Let’s check out the key challenges companies face concerning SaaS operations when they don’t use a SaaS management platform.
1. Lack of app visibility
Only one-third of the companies can routinely check their corporate network and SaaS subscriptions. In addition, when anyone can download and use SaaS apps, it becomes difficult for the IT team to check the actual usage data.
Lack of visibility on app usage can pose security threats to the company’s data and increase the overall expense. For example, two individuals can subscribe to the same SaaS tool by mistake without enterprise SaaS management.
Shadow IT: It is the act of purchasing or subscribing to SaaS applications without the knowledge of the IT and finance teams.
If your IT team lacks visibility into SaaS applications, it’ll be hard to differentiate sanctioned and unsanctioned applications. Poor SaaS management will lead to excess shadow IT, increased expenses, and security risks.
Duplicate apps: Lack of visibility will often lead to an increased number of duplicate applications within the stack. These are apps that have similar functionality to Mailchimp and SendinBlue.
Spreadsheets cannot identify these overlapping applications; you’ll need robust app management software.
Redundant apps: Enterprises use 200+ SaaS applications, and there is a high chance that users will abandon some of these applications.
Identifying redundant apps can be challenging if you don’t use SaaS management software to discover all apps and track app usage regularly.
2. Increased spending
“Poor SaaS management is a recipe for increased SaaS expenses.”
Let’s talk about two compelling scenarios,
Unused licenses: Let’s say you purchased 100 licenses for Hubspot, and your teams are only utilizing 70; the remaining licenses will be considered abandoned.
But you’ve already paid for those 30 abandoned licenses, resulting in wasted SaaS spending.
Spreadsheets cannot point out these discrepancies, and all 100 licenses would’ve been auto-renewed every time, resulting in increased SaaS spending.
Auto-renewals: SaaS contracts are crucial documents, but most businesses don’t track them formally.
Poor contract management will lead to your contracts getting auto-renewed. Even though your team only uses 70 licenses for Hubspot, all 100 licenses will be paid for during every contract renewal.
You need to manage your contracts better using a contract management system to stay ahead of renewals. With a SMP, you can automate SaaS renewals and right-size your licenses by renegotiating with vendors.
3. Data Security Risks
According to an IDC survey, eight out of ten organizations in the US have experienced data breaches due to a lack of SaaS tool monitoring and cloud misconfiguration. Data breach possibilities may increase without centralized control when companies use cloud and SaaS services.
Intruders are only a step away from accessing the data from multiple locations. In the absence of a SaaS management system, it is challenging to discover misconfigured and unauthorized SaaS applications that might leave a backdoor for hackers.
Further, manually reviewing the settings of each authorized and unauthorized app makes the cybersecurity audit complex.
4. Compliance risks
When a purchase request for an application is raised, the IT, finance, and procurement teams conduct detailed research on the vendor and the application.
They carefully vet the application's pricing, compliance, and security standards before purchasing.
But what about the application purchased through shadow IT? Those unsanctioned purchases wouldn’t have followed the same vetting process that the IT teams did.
Some of these apps might not comply with security standards like SOC 2, GDPR, AICPA, and more, resulting in compliance and security risks for your organization.
These are the common challenges your teams face due to poor SaaS management.
The only way to overcome it is through → Effective management
Effective SaaS Management – The key to ending mediocrity
As the business grows over time, SaaS applications become essential, especially in enterprises, to keep SaaS spending on track. Effectively managing SaaS applications doesn’t just save on SaaS spend; here’s how it can benefit your business,
1. Prevent Shadow IT
The first aspect of SaaS management is application visibility. A 360-degree view of your SaaS stack will help IT teams differentiate between sanctioned and unsanctioned applications purchased via shadow IT.
Shadow IT can cause financial damage to the company and leak the organization’s sensitive data. Therefore, the organization must route all SaaS procurements via the IT department to avoid shadow IT practices.
2. SaaS License Management
SaaS licenses can be thoroughly scrutinized and vetted to avoid abandoning them. A SaaS app management tool will track app usage data and highlight underused and overused licenses.
Underused licenses can be right-sized through vendor negotiations. Overused licenses might result in a contract breach, but it indicates that your team needs more licenses that can be purchased formally.
3. SaaS Renewal Management
Manual or spreadsheet-based tracking of SaaS subscriptions might result in missed renewals and automatic cancellation of one or more SaaS tools.
So, to ensure all the subscriptions are up and running, companies need to have a SaaS renewal management tool to keep track of renewal and cancellation dates.
Check out this exciting customer story of how they streamlined SaaS renewals:
4. SaaS Spend Visibility and Analysis
When employees use the pay-as-you-use SaaS model, the IT team finds it difficult to track the actual usage compared to the charges billed by the vendor. Sometimes, SaaS vendors may charge a higher amount based on actual usage.
To manage this challenge, companies need to analyze their SaaS spending and manage plans accordingly. This situation can be easily handled by using a SaaS spend management platform.
Spend visibility will also reveal your stack's free apps that resulted from shadow IT. You can track app usage and consolidate the free license into paid licenses.
5. Data Security, Risk Mitigation, and Compliance
SaaS application misconfiguration can lead to security breaches that can affect the privacy of employees and customers.
Unsecured SaaS purchases may cause serious compliance issues and might not allow the company to negotiate the terms effectively. Therefore, companies must pay close attention to compliance management and risk mitigation while auditing the SaaS subscription. A SaaS application management tool is handy to make this job more manageable.
6. SaaS Utilization and ROI
Companies need a SaaS software management platform to generate more significant ROI and best use all the SaaS subscriptions. When an organization has multiple subscriptions, they also pay for ones they rarely use. Overlooking such parameters can affect the overall operational cost of the business.
With enterprise SaaS management, the IT administrator can get accurate insights into the actual usage of SaaS tools. The administration team can easily optimize SaaS licenses based on the usage analysis.
7. SaaS Governance and Shared Access
Lack of efficient governance and controlled access leads to shadow IT, and business owners need centralized control to manage SaaS subscriptions and shared access.
Organizing the shared access within the organization brings more agility to operations and lets the administration make quick changes to improve the team’s performance.
Deploying a robust SaaS management system helps the company monitor the SaaS application inventory and improve overall security.
How do I create a SaaS management strategy?
Step 1: Discover
It begins with discovering the applications your team is using. There is a high chance that your spreadsheets are not tracking the actual size of your SaaS stack.
Use a SaaS application management platform to discover all your SaaS apps. These tools can integrate with your SSO, financial, and HRIS systems to comprehensively view your applications, spending, and user data.
Step 2: Segmentation
Now that you know the SaaS applications used by your teams, how many were sanctioned by IT, and how many resulted from shadow IT?
With the app and spend visibility provided by an SMP, segment the applications based on various conditions like
- Sanctioned paid apps
- Unsanctioned paid and free apps
- Apps with no renewal date
- Apps with overlapping functionalities
- Low-usage apps and redundant apps
- Apps with abandoned licenses
Segmenting the apps is easier as the platform will provide all the necessary usage and spending data. Some platforms will even highlight the applications based on usage, spending, and contracts.
Step 3: Scrutinization
Once the segmentation is done, perform a detailed analysis of the applications and classify them based on your team's requirements and usage.
Eliminate the ones with poor usage, compliance, and security standards. Ensure that all the applications existing in your tech stack are carefully vetted and paid for.
Negotiate with the vendors to right-size your licenses based on usage and define renewal periods so you can start automating them using workflows.
De-provision ex-employees from the apps; most breaches occur through this vector. Use an SMP to automatically provision and de-provision users when an employee joins or quits.
Step 4: Governance
Now, your SaaS stack is free of redundancies, but you must take the necessary steps to avoid them in the future.
Set guidelines and define the roles and responsibilities of users managing the SaaS application.
For example, if you designate a procurement leader, the leader should approve all the purchase requests before contacting the vendor. This will eradicate "shadow IT" from the system.
You can use SaaS procurement software to create a centralized procurement process. This will encourage users not to purchase applications without the team's knowledge.
Educate your teams on the risks of shadow IT and increased SaaS spending and create a collaborative and productive work environment with efficient SaaS software management.
Best SaaS Management Software – Tackling Challenges and Meeting Business Needs
A SaaS management platform can help businesses mitigate the above risks and meet business goals. Here’s a quick rundown of ideal SaaS app management features,
1. Discover Your SaaS apps
SaaS management platforms can integrate with your SSO, finance, and HRIS systems to provide a 360-degree view of your SaaS stack.
You can see the apps used by your teams, along with accurate app usage and spending data. With complete app visibility, you can effectively manage your SaaS stack and make informed cost-optimization decisions.
SMPs will reveal duplicate, redundant apps in your system, making it easier for you to eliminate them from your SaaS stack and keep your ecosystem optimized.
2. SaaS Spend Analysis & Optimization
Spending analysis and optimization of SaaS subscriptions help companies save money in the long term.
SMPs integrate with financial systems to provide spend visibility. You can verify how much each department spends on applications and vendors and compare it with your SaaS budget to make informed spending management decisions.
3. Centralized Administration: Unified View of SaaS Vendors
Maintaining a healthy relationship with vendors is essential for long-term success and more cost-optimization opportunities.
SMPs will help you manage all your SaaS vendors and their applications in one place. You can store all the details relevant to you and retrieve them easily during audits and renegotiations.
4. SaaS Contracts
SaaS contracts are sensitive documents; store them securely in one centralized location using a SaaS contract management tool.
You might ask, "Do we need a separate tool to manage SaaS contracts?
SaaS management platforms like CloudEagle come with contract management capabilities to help teams centralize their SaaS contracts for easy storage and retrieval.
5. Renewal automation
Tracking renewals using spreadsheets is a complex task. Automate renewals using platforms like CloudEagle.
CloudEagle will extract renewal metadata from the SaaS contracts and create a renewal calendar. Based on the calendar, the platform will initiate renewal workflows 90 days in advance and keep escalating to various stakeholders until the contract is renewed on time.
Never miss a renewal with SaaS management software.
6. Usage Tracking and License Management
Track how your users use the applications. Integrating with SSO and HRIS systems enables SMPs to provide accurate app usage data.
You can leverage the usage data to scrutinize your licenses. SMPs like CloudEagle will highlight underused and unused SaaS licenses, which can be right-sized through efficient vendor negotiations.
7. Administrative Control
Administrative control is pivotal in managing SaaS applications and their subscriptions. SaaS management systems help business owners have complete control over every crucial aspect of the SaaS tool.
From defining the usage levels for every user to keeping track of shadow IT activities, the SaaS management tool offers excellent control over various activities.
8. Real-Time Reporting
Real-time reporting is essential to understanding how the tools perform and how much value they add to the team’s work.
The real-time reporting feature of the SaaS management platform helps you decide which subscriptions you need to renew and which can be replaced with better alternatives. You can stay up-to-date with your SaaS stack with real-time reports.
9. SaaS procurement
Platforms like CloudEagle are raising the bar for SaaS app management platforms.
It is equipped with procurement workflows to help procurement teams automate the complex SaaS buying process. You can create a centralized purchasing process with CloudEagle and prevent shadow IT in your organization.
It makes the process transparent, increasing the accountability of stakeholders involved and leading to a quicker procurement process.
10. Provisioning and deprovisioning
When an employee joins the team, an SMP will automatically assign relevant apps to the employee based on their department and job role.
Likewise, when they quit, you don’t need to manually revoke access for each application. The platform will deprovision the users as soon as they quit to avoid security issues in the future.
End-to-End SaaS Management System
CloudEagle is a full-stack SaaS management platform built to help organizations manage and optimize SaaS applications and save on SaaS spend.
Whether you are a small or medium-sized company or a large enterprise, CloudEagle can simplify your SaaS ecosystem, minimize shadow IT risks, and maximize operational efficiencies.
CloudEagle is the only platform for SaaS management with the ‘Tri-factor’ features and services,
1. SaaS management
2. SaaS procurement
3. SaaS negotiations
We listed the ideal features an SMP must possess; CloudEagle is equipped with all the above-mentioned features.
AI-powered vendor recommendation: Reduce the hassles of vendor research with our vendor recommendation engine. Based on your requirements and pain points, the platform will automatically suggest the right SaaS vendors.
You can connect with the vendors and their customers, look at their reviews and then make an informed vendor selection decision.
Assisted buying services: Does your team lack the bandwidth to negotiate with vendors? Let our experts negotiate on your behalf by leveraging your app usage data and price benchmarking data to secure the best deals and save on SaaS spend.
Here’s a quick overview of CloudEagle's capabilities,
- Provides 100% SaaS visibility
- Centralized contract management
- Get accurate cost optimization insights
- Renewal workflows
- Procurement workflows
- SaaS vendor management
- Automated onboarding and offboarding
- Custom time-based reports
- Expert negotiations services
- SaaS license management
- AI-powered vendor recommendation engine.
Experience CloudEagle’s SaaS management capabilities right away.