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From Spreadsheets to Success: A Guide to High-Velocity SaaS Procurement with Brittney Linville

A guide to high-velocity SaaS procurement with Brittney Linville.


With hundreds of SaaS renewals a year, each with their own complexities, Procurement has its work cut out for them. But that didn’t stop Brittney Linville, a tenacious and growth-minded U.S. Army veteran and procurement leader. In fact, she has not only built three procurement organizations from the ground up, but she created the gold standard for how to do it. From ditching spreadsheets and building strategic partnerships to streamlining procurement processes, Brittney dishes on how she executed at high velocity.

Episode Summary

Without a strategy and program in place, keeping up with hundreds of SaaS renewals can feel like a game of Whack-A-Mole. “There’s no way that one person can feasibly handle [renewals] alone,” shared Brittney Linville, a seasoned procurement leader.

There are spreadsheets upon spreadsheets, disparate data, and more renewals than you can count on two hands. But that’s the reality for most procurement leaders.

“When you’re building Procurement from the ground up,” explained Linville, “you’re walking into the door and you’re in spreadsheet hell.”

Linville chalks her success up to creating a single pane of glass for SaaS renewal data and engaging with key stakeholders and application owners across the organization.

“The only way that you can manage [renewals] effectively is to make it a team sport.”

Read on for key episode highlights and learn how you can run high-velocity SaaS procurement like Brittney Linville.

Guest Spotlight

Name: Brittney Linville
What she does: Strategic Account Executive at Zylo
Connect with Brittney online: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

Be Intellectually Curious

“I sat in on tons of calls just as a ride along to learn when the FP&A people were meeting with those budget owners and doing their budget versus actual conversations. And I found those incredibly beneficial, because not only am I hearing the dollars and cents, things they care about there, but it really got detailed as to how they’re budgeting for things, how they’re forecasting for things, and it helped me get ahead of renewals and of expansion and things as well.”

The Journey Building a Procurement Organization Often Begins in Spreadsheet Hell

“It’s disparate data all across the organization and you’re trying to make sense of it and figure out what’s going on because the last thing you want to do is auto renew. You don’t want to be the procurement person that misses a renewal. There was one situation where the IT team had their spreadsheet, and then you had the revenue function that had their spreadsheet as well, and they didn’t trust their spreadsheet, and this person didn’t trust the other person’s spreadsheets. And so they were like, this is my spreadsheet. It was about: how do you start working with them to see what’s the data that they care about, why are they keeping a spreadsheet to begin with? And then start letting them know that you’re there to be that person that they can trust. Take those duties off their plate, give them that time back to go and pursue the things that they’re important for. Because being the first procurement person, often, you’re replacing somebody else’s other duties as assigned. Well, being able to lean in with them and take that off their plate and earn trust and credibility with them, start with their spreadsheets, but then build that out over time to bring it to more of a best in breed process.”

To Be Effective, You Must Centralize Your Data

“I have all this inbound information, how can I organize it? I got this system over here, I got this data over there. So it wasn’t ever that I was seeking a single source of truth, because nobody’s ever going to want to use an application just because I say so. They want to work where they work, I need to work where I work, but I need to be effective in my day-to-day business. And so I was really looking at building my table of contents, because, for example, working in procurement, you’re often interfacing with legal. They’re going to have a CLM where they’re doing their redlining, they’re doing their negotiations. That’s never going to be in a single source of truth system that I have. But I needed to know, this app, when it renews, where’s that contract workflow happening? And so I was looking at Zylo, like, give me a table of contents… or some people call it a single pane of glass, where I can start somewhere and then branch out. I can pull information in through integrations, but give me a place to start and then I can start jumping off into other platforms if I need to go one click deeper.”

Make It A Team Sport, Reduce Procurement’s Workload

“I looked at it one day and there were more renewals for me to manage than there were days in the year. There’s no way that one person can feasibly handle this alone. And so it’s really about building your team, building my Bad Blood Swifty music video crew, and bringing in other people to help me manage this together. Working with those app owners, building those relationships and helping them help me by seeing, is there information that I can gather from them that’s going to help me move these things faster? You can also look at it from a mathematical perspective. You’re divvying out the work. You’re like, I have this number of renewals. There’s this many that are coming up in this many days, but ultimately, you can’t predict the amount of time it’s going to take. 

I talked about that Salesforce renewal when I came in. I’ve had Salesforce renewals that take six months, and I’ve also had ones that take six days because you’re just that prepared when it comes down to the renewal. It’s not necessarily that you can predict it based on the size of the contract or how many licenses you have, because then a vendor can throw you for a loop and say, ‘Oh, we’ve redone our pricing model.’ I was thinking about it one day, and I was like, ‘I wonder how many accounts our salespeople manage? How many renewals do I have versus how many people are in our sales organization, and how do they manage it?’ 

Procurement people are often taking on such a heavy load, and you’re often having more renewals there. The only way that you can manage it effectively is to make it a team sport, bring in a crew of people, start working with your app owners and seeing what they can do to help you. And then on the flip side, you’re helping them save money. So the more that you can work together, the more effective it’s going to be over time.”

Make the Process Easier for Employees and Encourage Compliance

“Have you ever been told your processes suck? They take too long? When I do it right, it’s like a black hole? I mean, that was the feedback we had, is that everything takes too long, and I just need to get this done. I just need this app. I just need to be able to do my job. And so you’ve really got to take that to heart. When you make it hard for your people to do the right thing, you encourage them to do the wrong thing. That’s how you end up with shadow IT. That’s how you end up being excluded from the process. Put yourself in their shoes and say, ‘How can I make this a better experience?’ I really had to dive deep and learn the tooling that we had and learn what it was capable of.”

Top Quotes

9:28 – “When you’re building Procurement from the ground up, you’re walking into the door and you’re in spreadsheet hell.”

17:28 – “There’s no way that one person can feasibly handle this alone.”

18:57 – “The only way that you can manage [renewals] effectively is to make it a team sport.”

23:30 – “When you make it hard for your people to do the right thing, you encourage them to do the wrong thing.”

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.