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Crawl-Walk-Run Mapping Your Enterprise SaaS Management Journey


Knowing every SaaS application in your stack is only half the battle. SaaS management means establishing processes and programs that will completely change the way your organization approaches its applications. 

That’s why we spoke with Cory Wheeler, Chief Customer Officer and co-founder at Zylo, at SaaSMe 2022 to share his insight into building a SaaS management practice through a crawl-walk-run approach to mapping SaaS. During this session, he discussed the nuances of software ownership, the maturity spectrum of SaaS management, and the key elements of SaaS management success. And, ultimately, how to take a crawl-walk-run approach to your own journey.

Here are the key takeaways from the session. 

SaaS Management is a Practice, Not Project

One of the most important things you need to remember about SaaS management is that it’s not a one-and-done deal. It takes dedicated resources and focus to create an ongoing practice.

“You’ve got a life cycle of 600, 300, 2000 applications that are renewing every year that you’ve got to be able to optimize.” said Wheeler. “You’ve got to get the right data into the right people’s hands, you’ve got to minimize the risk to your business, and you’ve got to do that at scale. SaaS management is here, it’s a practice, and definitely not a project.”

Software Will Never be Owned or Controlled by a Single Department

SaaS management is a team sport between IT and finance. These departments must lead the program SaaS management, and together they make it work for the whole business. Once both these departments realize their shared interest in SaaS management, the real work can begin.

IT is responsible and accountable for much of the risk inside organizations surrounding software, and as such work to mitigate it. Meanwhile, finance is accountable for optimization and making sure SaaS investments are creating the best ROI possible. Both of these groups struggle with the visibility to achieve these goals.

Only with 100% visibility of their SaaS assets can IT and finance begin a program of continuous, comprehensive management of the tech stack in real-time.

“As we think about that from a persona perspective,” said Wheeler. “We see the following that are the key high-level personas leveraging a SaaS management strategy, that are implementing a SaaS management practice in their business. And the use cases there are very clear. IT needs to understand application value and the adoption of the products inside their business. They need to know that they have the right applications internally in their business.”

Crawl-Walk-Run Approach: Enterprise SaaS Management Happens on a Spectrum

Wheeler goes on to share with us how Zylo has broken down SaaS management into a consumable practice for organizations to review and apply to their business. This process is implementation, organization, optimization, and orchestration. Each of these comes with its own steps and processes to achieve. 


When we talk about implementation, we’re talking about building the foundation of your whole SaaS management system.

We start off this step by centralizing disparate data sets across your organization to create a SaaS system of record. This system establishes a solid comprehensive and continuous visibility of your SaaS stack going forward. 

Which in turn allows you to identify your SaaS application spending across your entire enterprise. This spending data enables you to prioritize your apps relative to their utility and your spending. What’s more, you are able to understand where and how they are brought into your business. In the process, you begin to understand your Shadow IT and application redundancy.

“You’re identifying those purchasing inefficiencies.” said Wheeler. “Where do you have a contract in place and you have five people that are expensing a product? Pulling all of these insights together helps you clean up your environment.” 


After implementation comes organization. This is the stage where you take your newfound visibility and use it to sort out what needs resolving in your organization’s SaaS portfolio.

You’ll start this stage with application classification by identifying ownership and attributing the ownership of applications throughout the organization. In the process, you’ll gain insights into the Shadow IT that exists in your environment and begin plans to remedy it for risk mitigation. 

Furthermore, this is the stage where you identify purchase inefficiencies and begin the initial steps to remove them from your environment. This includes determining redundant applications to address best-in-breed stack selection.

“The organization phase is a time to start driving optimization.” said Wheeler. “But really cleaning up that stack. And our customers show that as well. Whether on the under a thousand segment customer side, they’ve already had $5 million in app rationalization during that organize phase.” 


This brings us to the optimization stage where you will begin building the ongoing, self-sustaining engine that will drive your SaaS management. 

Additionally, this is where you will begin to understand your SaaS adoption and build a SaaS renewal calendar. With insights built into this calendar, you can begin to understand your financial liability and your opportunities to optimize quarter over quarter for better ROI.

This means using proactive license reclamation and best-in-breed stack selection to rationalize your portfolio and remove unused licenses.

Along the way, you’re looking at benchmarking your saving opportunities to buy and renew with confidence. Compare what you’re spending with your competitors, and know you’re getting the best value out of your SaaS acquisitions and negotiation.

“And as that last step.” said Wheeler. “You’re really road mapping your single sign-on solution as well. Put more behind Okta, put more behind OneLogin. Drive more value out of your SSO investment by pulling that login detail into Zylo and actioning on that data.”


This is all leading you to empower your employees with a centralized SaaS system of record. It’s providing visibility so your employees know what tools they can use, where to get them, and how to use them with an employee-facing SaaS app catalog.

Here we bring all the functions affected by SaaS together to centralize them in a single solution. It’s really about building a SaaS enterprise architecture that maps the right SaaS to the right internal capability.

Ultimately, this leads to the democratization of SaaS data to provide visibility to the right people when they need it.

“There are so many things you can do with this data, with the outcomes, and with the knowledge of the central SaaS system of record,” said Wheeler. “And our customers have done just that.”

Key Elements to Enable SaaS Management Success

But before we’re able to begin implementing these steps in SaaS management, we need to look at what enables SaaS management success. 

Executive Sponsorship

Before any system of SaaS management can begin, you will always need executive sponsorship. This is because there isn’t any clear, central ownership. As a result, the CIO and CFO play a strong role here. 

Give SaaS Management Your Focus and Dedication

What’s more, you need to have focus and dedication. SaaS management isn’t a magic solution. It’s a dedicated effort to manage that renewal process, and establish these systems to come back to again and again to keep your ever-changing portfolio management.

Support of Application

And possibly the most important element of SaaS management success is support. You need to pull in your application owners, get them behind the program of management, and really drive home the importance of centralizing SaaS data. 

Map Your SaaS Management Journey

At the end of the day, Wheeler is talking about the steps Zylo has found to help enterprises create a system of SaaS management. It takes support and dedication to begin, and then an organized approach predicated on visibility. 

To hear the full session on mapping your enterprise SaaS management journey from Cory Wheeler, and other meaningful insights from IT experts, check out SaaSMe on-demand today