Close Menu

Search for Keywords...


How IT and Finance Collaboration Drives an Effective SaaS Management Program

Finance Collaboration

Despite tightening financial conditions, SaaS continues to grow at a rapid pace, with Gartner predicting SaaS expenditures will climb 19% over the previous year. As businesses quickly replace their legacy systems with cloud-based software, the need for a robust SaaS Management strategy proves critical to managing costs and minimizing risk.

We typically see SaaS Management led by either Finance or IT, and it’s understandable as both departments bring unique perspectives and skills to the table. Yet, we see the best results when IT and Finance come together to tackle this massive challenge as a team. The dynamic partnership becomes a force multiplier for the organization, ensuring every investment into their SaaS stack is not only valuable, but drives business impact. 

From a high level, a CIO or VP of IT cares about SaaS performance, such as app adoption, innovation, utilization, and security. Meanwhile, the CFO or Finance leader is most interested in SaaS spend and renewals.

When IT and Finance join forces, we see three different functional roles that make the partnership possible:

  • Vision and goal: Typically, IT and Finance executives establish the vision and goal for the program.
  • Strategic:  VPs or department leaders of IT, Procurement, and Finance develop the strategy and lead the charge.
  • Tactical/use-case driven: This is where your day-to-day players come in to analyze the data and act on opportunities.

Organizations can make the partnership event more effective when IT and Finance also leverage key stakeholders, especially when you consider how a majority of SaaS tools enter businesses via employee or department-led purchases, not through IT. 

By banding together, IT and Finance leaders can work with Marketing, HR, Product, and other teams to ensure they make sound investments in SaaS tools, notably by choosing the best tools, obtaining the best price, and minimizing risk to the organization.

Blockers to IT and Finance Collaboration

Before diving into the best practices for IT and Finance collaboration, let’s examine some of the typical blockers that limit SaaS Management and cause teams to operate in silos. 

  • Failure to align on business goals: Collaborative SaaS Management must tie back to a company-wide goal or initiative and serve as the North Star to drive the work of IT and Finance.
  • Poor communication across teams: Poor communication between teams leads to misalignment on goals, erosion of trust, friction in processes, and reduced productivity.
  • Cultural and relationship factors: From a resistance to change to a general lack of trust, cultural and relationship issues will limit collaboration among teams.

Best Practices for IT and Finance Collaboration

Next, let’s examine some of the best practices for IT and Finance to work in tandem to optimize SaaS Management. 

#1 Ensure Executive Buy-in

As with most company-wide initiatives, you want to ensure executive leadership understands and champions the cause. In a recent episode of Zylo’s SaaSMe Unfiltered podcast, Shravya Ravi, Manager of Asset Management at LinkedIn, said executive buy-in is key for promoting effective collaboration between IT and Finance. 

“The first answer we usually get is, ‘We don’t have resources.’ But it’s also important that we talk about why we’re doing what we are doing, and how it’s going to impact how we do business,” Ravi said. “For me, it’s always, first, executive sponsorship. Second, once you actually have executive sponsorship, it’s a prioritization exercise. How high up in the priority list are we? Sometimes not always at the top, but I think, depending on the stakeholder, we get there. Sometimes it’s a waiting game.” 

#2 Ensure Alignment of Business Goals

It’s important to understand and align to the strategic business goals of executive sponsors. Business outcomes may include savings, OpEx reduction, efficiency outcomes, and even board or Wall Street-level directives.

After securing executive buy-in, make sure your IT and Finance stakeholders come to a consensus on the organization’s overall business goals.

During an episode of Zylo’s SaaSMe Unfiltered podcast, Gordon Atkin, VP of Technology and Business Platform at Salsify, spoke to the importance of ensuring IT and Finance alignment to the strategic business goals of executive sponsors. 

“I think that when you bring together more and try to operate as one versus one trying to operate as many, there’s much more power in that,” Atkin said. 

Key business outcomes may include software savings, OpEx reduction, efficiency outcomes, and even board or Wall Street-level directives.

#3 Foster Communication and Relationship-Building

A key component of teamwork is the ability to communicate freely and respect outside opinions. During an episode of Zylo’s SaaSMe Unfiltered podcast, Karen Hodson, Chief Procurement & Real Estate Officer at CM Group, spoke of the importance of bringing all stakeholders to the table to improve collaboration between departments.

“The more you have conversations with the individuals behind the scenes who are dealing with this and have been running it for a while, and get their involvement and appreciate their input, that’s where you’re going to be successful,” Hodson said.

#4 Discover Full SaaS Visibility

You can’t optimize your SaaS investment without complete discovery of all applications. A SaaS Management Platform provides a central source of truth by revealing 100% of an organization’s SaaS, even if they’re miscoded or included in expense reports. With this real-time intelligence, IT and Finance — as well as other stakeholders — gain clear visibility into the full application landscape and spend. It’s important to note that the dynamic nature of SaaS means effective application management requires ongoing discovery to keep track of all the software entering and exiting the organization.

“The transparency, the visibility is what’s most important,” Ravi said. “Because when you look at app owners, they actually know what they’re spending money on. But there might be three other app owners spending the same money on the same thing. We just need to get that visibility throughout the organization. So, the first goal is to get visibility. That helps organizations make better-informed business decisions.”

SaaS Management is a Team Sport

Put simply, it becomes virtually impossible to hit your SaaS Management goals unless key players work together as a team. When IT and Finance collaborate in the SaaS Management journey, businesses can supercharge their tactics to reduce costs, enhance security, ensure utilization, and stay ahead of renewals.

Hear how this collaboration is working in real life by listening to IT & Finance: The MVPs of Your SaaS Management Program from the SaaSMe Unfiltered podcast.