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4 Ways to Take Action on SaaS Usage Data

take action on SaaS usage data

Imagine you’re tasked with reducing license waste in your SaaS portfolio. It feels impossible to track down the usage data.  

A team member says the tool is behind SSO, so you look at the logs. Nope. While last login via SSO is good for some apps, you really need licensing information and usage details beyond last login. Next, you find a direct integration into your SaaS management platform. Nope, security gives it the no-go.

Accessing SaaS usage data is hard. Direct integrations aren’t always the best way and SSO often falls short. That’s why we created Usage Connect. It’s yet another way to get that data, in addition to our existing direct usage and SSO integrations, and public API. 

Usage Connect on Laptop

Now it allows you to connect tens of thousands of apps and control your data with a no-code app connection experience. But, what do you do once you have the data? 

Usage data allows IT, Software Asset Management, and Procurement professionals to: 

  • Reclaim inactive licenses – ahead of renewal, when seats are getting low, or programmatically. 
  • Compare users across redundant applications.
  • Audit your licenses to ensure ex-employees do not have access to tools after they leave the company.
  • Make data-driven, informed decisions.

Once you centralize usage data across all your applications, don’t miss the opportunity to take immediate action. Actions that could lead to saving money, reducing risk, and making your operations more efficient.

Let’s dive into the use cases for taking action on SaaS usage data.

Use Case #1: Reclaim Inactive Licenses with Workflows

Powerful insights are unlocked the moment you set up a usage connection with an application, immediately identifying users who are inactive. This threshold can be refined based on the application. For instance, if 90 days of inactivity is correct for tool A, but 120 is more appropriate for tool B, this is an easy refinement in the tool.

deprovision workflowFor many applications, this is enough to jump straight into a workflow to reclaim inactive users. Workflows lets you flexibly survey your users and require a justification if they have a need to keep their seat. Customizable email templates enable users to reference key data points important to their program such as the cost of the license or reference the company’s software use policy

Responses are easily reviewed and approved or rejected right inside the platform. Allowing employees to give a reason to keep their license, even if inactive, can reduce your help desk or admin time reallocating licenses when projects ramp up or the need for a license resurfaces.

Once complete, Zylo can natively deprovision users with features like Okta Actions. Or provide a report to an administrator or helpdesk team for license removal when an automated deprovision is unavailable. 

Learn how companies like Abbvie remove wasted licenses leveraging workflows. 

Approaches to License Reclamation

When should you remove inactive licenses, and what connections should you prioritize? There are a few schools of thought to this question. In practice, a mix of many are used. Deciding the approach often depends on: 

  • The accessibility of the data
  • Who owns the application
  • The importance of the application (based on cost of license or business criticality)

Programmatic license reclamation

Companies with mature SaaS Management programs like Adobe build programs around strategic initiatives to manage licenses across most or all of their applications. In practice, companies who programmatically manage their licenses are automatically reclaiming licenses throughout the year as soon as users meet the threshold for inactivity.

Taking this approach ensures that, at all times, the appropriate buffer of licenses is present as employees need them. Doing so eliminates the need to go back to the vendor and purchase more licenses. It also makes renewals a breeze, because you already know the number of licenses you need. 

“Through proactive software management, we have given ourselves the ability to rightsize our license purchases during renewals and contract extension,” said Ash Rai, Director, Software Asset Management and Vendor Relations at Adobe. “We don’t just go and harvest licenses. We take the data we get through Zylo and our SAM program to understand how to construct license agreements for the future.”

Adobe Drives Innovation and Massive Savings with Zylo

In the past 4 years, Adobe has rapidly scaled from $9B to $18B. This growth has made an already complex environment even more complex. Learn how they leveraged Zylo to get complete visibility into their SaaS portfolio, unlock millions in cost savings and avoidance and improve the employee experience. 

Learn More

Renewal-Driven License Reclamation

application renewalNot every team has the capacity to manage every application at the same level of scrutiny. Nor does every application warrant the same level of focus. Strategic applications such as your CRM or other core tools likely have a greater degree of focus than a business-owned tool.

For applications where licenses are not in an ongoing reclamation workflow, renewal is the most critical time to analyze your usage and reclaim inactive licenses. Most organizations are reharvesting licenses 90-120 days ahead of renewal to ensure they are only buying the seats they need and eliminating waste. 

Use Case #2: Analyze More Complex Licensing Structures

Defining an inactive user isn’t as simple as the last time an employee used that application. In addition to determining active and inactive users, Usage Connect helps you understand if a user needs a full license, or if a free/basic license is more appropriate.

For example, let’s look at Figma, a popular design tool used by many companies. Figma offers a free seat for their paid plans that allows a user to view and comment, but not make edits to designs.

SSO alone would only tell you if a user has logged in or not. Usage Connect can answer the question, “Are Paid Users making edits to files or not?” If they are not, they can be downgraded to a free seat, even if they are logging in every day. 

Use Case #3: Compare Users Across Redundant Applications

Once your usage data is centralized in Zylo, you can conduct a deeper comparison of license usage and adoption across multiple applications. Using Zylo’s App Compare and User Overlap functionality, you get a clear picture of redundant applications and can make decisions of where to invest and what to deprecate.

With App Compare, you can compare applications across user adoption, security posture, cost and other key dynamics. The decision to reduce your number of tools and consolidate to one or fewer applications is often rife with politics and individual tool preferences. Bringing forward usage information allows data to inform the conversation, helping drive objective decisions. 

Taking that a step further, usage data unlocks visibility into users with access to multiple solutions for a given function. That’s where User Overlap comes in. It empowers you to take usage data (from Usage Connect, Direct Integrations, SSO, or API) and quickly identify those users. 

Imagine being able to determine in a few clicks: what inactive Asana users have access to another project management tool? Then, imagine the optimization you can perform across all your applications. 

Use Case #4: Audit Your Licenses for Users who Left the Company

You likely have an offboarding program for when employees leave the organization. But, do you have a mechanism to audit that process? 

When license data is imported via Usage Connect, Zylo automatically compares the users of an application with your employee source of truth (HRIS or SSO). If a user is found to still be licensed for an application but they are no longer with your company, Zylo automatically surfaces this security risk. 

Once raised, you can quickly remove the user’s access and identify where your process fell short – a safety net for your offboarding program. 

Make Data-Driven and Informed Decisions, Today

The hard truth is, companies waste an average of $17M annually on unused SaaS licenses. Visibility into usage data is critical to reducing those costs, creating efficiencies, and reducing risk. 

Regardless of your approach, SaaS management program maturity, or available resources, Usage Connect makes it easy for you to immediately unlock actionable usage data. And it’s robust enough for the most sophisticated teams to automate every SaaS application within your organization. 

Schedule a demo to learn how to unlock the power of usage data and optimize your software investments.



Thom McCorkle

As Zylo's Director of Product Marketing, Thom is responsible for leading Zylo's product marketing strategy and execution with a passion for aligning customer needs and Zylo's value into everything we build and launch. He brings 7+ years of experience working with Zylo's customers and prospects with various roles from leading Customer Success to enablement and sales/solution strategy.