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Ashley Hickman: SaaS Management is a Practice, Not a Project

SaaS management practice

Ashley Hickman is the Customer Success Manager at Zylo and former IT consultant with a passion for helping companies build successful SaaS management programs. She firmly believes that SaaS management is an ongoing practice and shares her insights for how to get started and the keys to success.

Episode Summary

SaaS Management isn’t just one and done. It’s a journey that looks different for every organization – big and small.

“For anyone undergoing a transformation when it comes to SaaS management, or how you’re managing technology within your business, is figuring out what that journey is going to look like, what that focus is going to be and making sure it’s an iterative process.”

Effective SaaS management begins with having full visibility into all your SaaS. But to be truly successful, you must have leadership support and collaboration across the business. You might even say it takes a village – or a team.

“We’ve said before, SaaS is a team sport. That’s very much… where I see companies being able to kick ass every day.”

In this episode, Ashley shares what a successful SaaS management practice looks like and how some organizations are approaching it today.

Guest Spotlight

Name: Ashley Hickman

What she does: Manager, Customer Success at Zylo and former IT consultant

Connect with Ashley online: LinkedIn 

Episode Highlights

IT No Longer Manages Everything

“A lot of the projects that I was working on previously, we’d always start out with, ‘What are you using? What do you have?’ And people couldn’t answer the question. You would have, ‘Well, let’s get marketing on the phone, let’s get IT.’ Because IT thinks they know everything. They think they’re managing everything. I’ve worked with a lot of IT orgs that thought they, from a governance perspective, own all the applications, they’re just using X, Y, Z. That was very quickly not the case. I saw that problem every day as a consultant.”

SaaS Management is a Journey

“We’ve been working with a company now for a year with a more traditional asset management team. We’re partnering with that team and helping them on that journey of shifting their focus away from on-prem and what they need to focus on now with SaaS. What does governance needs to look like, how it needs to be enforced, et cetera… They’re just kicking ass now. They’re really crushing it. They’re very far along in terms of where they started and where they’re at today. They have buy-in from the top. They have collaboration across the organization to get to their goals and objectives as a business.”

Benchmark SaaS Spend Going into Renewals and Purchases

“We have a very large SaaS company who leverages our benchmarks at that portfolio level. So, looking at where they stack against X, Y, Z? People are measuring themselves up. They want to be best-in-breed with what they’re doing. And that’s something that, looking at the portfolio level, are we high when it comes to expense? Are we high when it comes to specific areas of spend? So, that’s something, starting the portfolio all the way down to price benchmarks. Of course, that’s important as well. Everyone wants to know they’re getting a good deal. That’s something we hear a lot from our customers like, ‘How do I know that I’m not getting screwed over?’ Again, this large SaaS company, is leveraging price benchmarks when they’re going in for renewals as well as net new purchases. When they’re going in, entering into those large EAs or just really starting out with like, ‘Hey, we’re going to try this out before we look at something larger,’ and making sure that they’re being very intentional with their net new purchases.”

Define What SaaS Management Looks Like at Your Organization

“To anyone undergoing a transformation when it comes to SaaS management, or how you’re managing technology within your business, is figuring out what that journey is going to look like, what that focus is going to be, and making sure it’s an iterative process. Everyone’s at a different starting point. And also, we’re all playing the same game. Some of us are playing a bigger game. Some of us are playing a smaller game. So, just figuring out for your organization and where you’re at and being incredibly intentional about getting to the next level. What does SaaS management look like when it comes to setting up practice within your organization?… Figuring out what to focus on when – that’s a really important focus and start for a lot of our customers.”

Leadership Support + Collaboration = Success

“Where I’ve seen our customers be the most successful in defining, maintaining, sustaining their SaaS management program really comes down to two things. The big thing: executive buy-in. Having essentially leadership support, that’s tremendously important. Not only like, ‘Yes, let’s pick a SaaS management provider.’ If you want progress, something needs to happen. So, some tough decisions are going to have to be made in some regard. Having support from a leadership team or individual or sponsor is huge. That’s ultimately where we see our most successful customers, when they have that support from leadership. And then collaboration across the business. I see our customers be the most successful with whatever the vision and goal is. Because it is going to shift. It’s going to iterate. It’s going to change. They need to have collaboration across the business, across the teams. We’ve said SaaS is a team sport. That’s very much true in this case and where I see companies being able to kick ass every day.”

Uncertain Times Require Proactive SaaS Cost Optimization

“A lot of people went through the great recession. People went through tightening their belts around the pandemic as well. So, they are being very proactive around seeing the trends in the market today and what that ultimately is going to mean a little bit longer term into this year and next… It’s now: where can they be a little bit leaner? Can they be intentional around the technologies? Maybe the number of technologies they’re using in a specific area, so rationalizing. Or just optimizing when they’re renewing or what they currently have. Specifically the past month, there’s been a lot more conversations around leveraging a SaaS management platform to do that.”

Top Quotes

10:55 – “You can’t boil the ocean.”

13:12 – “Whenever you’re making a business decision, you need to have data to support whatever outcome or goal, your finish line.”

18:50 – “You don’t know where to start if you don’t know what you have. How can you best organize it so that you can start optimizing it?”

Check out other episodes here, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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