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Brett Bartolai: Driving SaaS Cost Savings through Procurement at GrubHub

GrubHub Procurement


Sprawl. Unchecked spend. Surprise renewals. Procurement is well-positioned to manage the chaos that comes with SaaS. In this episode, procurement director Brett Bartolai shares how increased scrutiny over their software stack and spend has helped GrubHub surface shadow IT, reduce costs, and stay ahead of renewals.

Episode Summary

Cost containment is on the minds of most procurement, IT, and finance leaders today. But managing your SaaS estate with that intent isn’t for the faint of heart.

“If you let your guard down, if you let people sign up for free stuff, it can get out of hand really, really quickly,” said Brett Bartolai, procurement director at GrubHub.

It takes a cross-functional team working together to make a real impact. From having conversations throughout the business to properly vetting new software purchases with a review board. Not to mention reducing sprawl and shadow IT.

“It’s not about just spending money,” said Bartolai, but also “stemming the tide and only allowing new applications with a really strong ROI that makes sense [for GrubHub].”

Guest Spotlight

Name: Brett Bartolai
What he does: Procurement Director at GrubHub
Connect with Brett online: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

Procurement Plays an Integral Role in Enabling the Business to Purchase Software

“Our role is to understand what it is, what we’re buying, how much we’re buying of it. Not necessarily getting into license counts, but we do support some of those activities. Negotiate it, push back, challenge it. We’ve got over 500 apps and spend millions of dollars on it. So it’s a huge part of what we’re looking at, at GrubHub.”

Cost Containment Must Be Thoughtful and Planned Collaboratively

“Now moving into 2023, what we’re doing is going through, we’re focusing on what we currently have. And as we speak meeting with department leaders, we’re going through their list of software and we’re having conversations around what is it? What is your plan for 2023? What is your plan for 2024? Are you using it to its full potential? If we’re going to ask you to cut, what would you cut? Having those sorts of questions, those sorts of conversations right now to start to formulate plans. Because yes, there’s kind of a greater economic outlook that we’re thinking about, but also we just got too much stuff.

A Software Review Board Allows for the Proper Vetting of Purchases

“First we started a business review committee to stem the tide of new software requests going forward. So anything new, you have to present your case to procurement, finance, supplier risk, corporate IT and tech dev, because you may have the budget for it, you may have the money for it, we may have something similar. Or tech dev is realizing that you want to integrate with AWS or something like that and they want to pump the brakes on that. Or corporate IT realizes that you want to integrate with Google Workspace or Zoom or whatever the case is. And there’s a lot of risk associated with that. So it’s not just spending money, but it’s how you are planning to integrate and use this tool going forward. We focused on stemming the tide and only allowing new applications that have a really strong ROI that makes sense in terms of the integration portion as well.”

Letting Your Guard Down Means Things Get out of Hand Quickly

“It’s a nice example where Slack can start out as a free tool and then all of a sudden your entire organization is using it, and it’s unprotected and now you have to pay for it. You do a double take and say, ‘Well, what happened there?’ And I don’t want to pick on them because Slack’s great. But there’s plenty of examples like that where if you let your guard down, if you let people sign up for free stuff, it can get out of hand really, really quickly. And there’s been a few of those in the past six years.”

Initiatives Always Take More Time Than You Think

“Getting things discussed and moving as early as possible. Just when you think you’re working with plenty of time, add three more months to it and start putting together your plans, start negotiating. So that would be my advice to anybody going through something similar.”

Top Quotes

5:52 – “It takes five or six stakeholder groups to be successful in [SaaS management].”

13:45 – “Negotiate it, push back, challenge it.”

19:19 – “It’s not about just spending money.”

23:55 – “When you think you’re working with plenty of time, add three more months to it.”

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



Cory Wheeler

As Zylo’s Chief Customer Officer, Cory is responsible for helping our customers drive ROI and SaaS Management success with Zylo. He helps companies of all sizes effectively discover, optimize, and govern their SaaS through Zylo’s platform and services. Prior to founding Zylo, Cory spent 15 years in finance and procurement, managing categories and sourcing teams at Arthur Andersen, BearingPoint, and both Takeda and Astellas Pharmaceuticals. He built the procurement organization at ExactTarget, and managed the integration with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud procurement organization in 2015. He and his family reside in Indianapolis, IN, where they can be found cheering for the Purdue Boilermakers and Chicago Cubs.