SaaS portfolios continue to dominate tech stacks, which can make it difficult for enterprises to keep a handle on application management. What many enterprises struggle with is the fact that SaaS management is a team sport.
Individual players drive successful SaaS management strategies, but they can’t plan them and execute them on their own. Collaboration across departments – especially between IT and Finance – is critical to success in the SaaS management ecosystem.
“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,” said Gordon Atkin, VP of Technology and Business Platform at Salsify.
To set your organization on the path of SaaS management success, engage your departments and encourage collaboration between key stakeholders. Get a high-level understand of the key stakeholders and what they care about from the podcast below, or read on for a deeper look at each role.
C-Suite leaders are at the top of the food chain for technology initiatives. These individuals take the strategic helm and define tactical goals for smooth and secure operational success.
CIOs are instrumental in selecting and deploying enterprise-wide IT tools. On top of this, they’re increasingly expected to help define and optimize the specialized toolsets of smaller business units, departments, and teams.
Engaging CIOs is critical for SaaS management because top-tier representation is necessary if you hope to gain footing for introducing new or improved application management processes.
Here are some ways to garner CIO support for your SaaS management initiatives:
- Highlight the cost-saving potential of better contract negotiations and improved license management.
- Outline the security and compliance benefits of strengthened controls and improved IT collaboration.
- Discuss how a forward-thinking SaaS management strategy will position IT as an innovative leader within the organization.
Successful SaaS management necessitates active engagement with stakeholders in Procurement and Sourcing. When enterprises need a new application, they look to Procurement and Sourcing teams. These teams exist solely to ensure that best practices are followed for tool acquisition to ensure maximized purchase value and smooth contract negotiations.
Procurement and Sourcing teams investigate options, document application requirements, negotiate contracts, secure purchases, and kick off implementation.
Ongoing SaaS management benefits organizations by keeping costs contained and ensuring you receive value for purchases, which overlaps with the goals of Procurement and Sourcing. As a result, these teams often have existing processes in place that can prove the need and help gather support for a SaaS management program.
Developing a streamlined SaaS management strategy will simplify the role of Procurement and Sourcing for these reasons:
- Maintaining a central repository for all SaaS details allows Procurement and Sourcing teams to maintain real-time insight into contract details.
- Greater transparency allows for more efficient contract negotiations.
- SaaS metrics are essential for identifying cost-saving opportunities and enabling improved license management.
- Full visibility into contract details allows for proactive discussions and reduces the chances of unwanted renewals.
- Measuring end-user utilization via a SaaS management platform can inform future purchasing decisions and help determine the return on investment more accurately.
- Allowing access to benchmarking data creates more data-driven negotiations with SaaS providers.
All company purchases eventually make their way through Finance.
Finance is responsible for reporting on accounts payable and expense items. For implementing an effective SaaS management strategy, spend-based discovery based on financial data provides a comprehensive view of all purchased SaaS applications within a company. Having the support of Finance can be hugely impactful.
Also, during tough economic times, the CFO can be the final approver since the budget is under more scrutiny. If there are directives to reduce budget – like OpEx – then proving that SaaS management is integral to budget reductions can get Finance on your side.
To get Finance on board with your SaaS management strategy, try the following talking points:
- SaaS management provides enhanced insight into application spend, allowing for improved forecasting, spend management, and budgeting.
- Enhanced visibility reduces wasted spend.
- A successful SaaS management strategy maximizes the value of software purchases.
- SaaS management enables a cross-functional approach to the review process or board for new application purchases. If pursued, the review team can include Finance to ensure all new SaaS applications get rationalized and costs vetted.
Legal is another vital stakeholder to engage as part of your SaaS management strategy. Software adoptions often intersect with compliance and regulatory requirements, making Legal a useful ally in ensuring software meets these standards.
A considerable part of SaaS management involves contract negotiations, and Legal can be beneficial in assisting these negotiations and reaching more favorable agreements.
To convince Legal to participate in your SaaS management strategy, outline the following benefits:
- A SaaS management system provides a quick and easy, centrally governed platform that provides a quick reference for all contract details.
- Effective SaaS management can be customized to include a running, real-time tally of which applications have and have not been vetted for compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, or CCPA.
- A software review is an excellent opportunity for Legal to review questionable agreements and have full visibility into contractual obligations.
Business Unit Leaders
Business unit leaders are in charge of the functional teams within your organization. These may include, but not be limited to Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, and Customer Service. These teams perform a diverse set of functions within your organization and, therefore, typically have unique software needs.
Increasing numbers of SaaS applications are becoming available that target specific business unit functionality. For example, in 2011, there were approximately 150 marketing-specific applications, compared to more than 11,000 today.
Engaging these teams as part of your SaaS management strategy is critical to ensure adopted tools get utilized and costs remain contained. As these team-specific tools become more important, it’s also vital that they are managed appropriately for optimal usage and spending.
To get buy-in from business units and promote IT collaboration, try highlighting the following benefits of a SaaS management strategy:
- Usage metrics and efficient license management reduce spending waste and functional overlaps, leading to increased purchasing power.
- Comprehensive insight into SaaS usage allows individual teams to identify the most effective tools.
- Partnerships with SaaS management teams can empower business unit leaders to avoid unwanted renewals, inform application negotiations, and improve overall contract management.
Since SaaS management is essentially the management of technology and information, IT is well-positioned as the collaborative bridge between these different stakeholders. SaaS management even carries collaboration opportunities and benefits within IT, as well.
Software Asset Management
If your IT department already uses software asset management, the leap to SaaS management is much smaller. Many software asset management best practices feature prominently in SaaS management, like utilization measurement and cost-benefit rationalization. In many cases, SAM teams lead the adoption of SaaS management; however, if SaaS and SAM teams are exclusive, collaboration is important.
Security and Compliance Teams
SaaS management helps ensure all applications meet security and compliance standards, which is typically an IT function. Rogue users adopting applications can lead to a breach in compliance.
Using a SaaS management strategy, security and compliance teams can discover and identify unknown applications, vet them, and mitigate risks. The system of record provided by a SaaS management platform can also serve as a log of compliance documentation. Involving these teams in the security process can be hugely helpful.
Ensuring all users have appropriate access to applications allows IT to manage identities more efficiently. A SaaS strategy helps to ensure that user access is assigned and removed promptly.
Further, a SaaS management tool that features direct integrations into SSO tools like Okta, Onelogin, or Azure AD can identify applications operating outside of SSO. These integrations also provide enhanced data about the utilization of applications secured with these identity management solutions.
When it comes to your overall enterprise architecture, a SaaS management strategy provides increased visibility into the entire tech stack, leading to more efficient management and rationalization for technology applications.
With this visibility, processes and dependencies can be better documented, spending can be reduced, and the organization overall can benefit from more effective tools and services.
Ensure Collaboration Among Key Stakeholders for Successful SaaS Management
The organizational benefits of deploying a SaaS management strategy are numerous. From the discovery of all SaaS applications and expenses to mitigating security and compliance risks to reducing costs and leveraging more value from cloud-based tools, managing SaaS is not strictly the boon of IT teams. However, these benefits can only be realized via a robust collaborative approach that prioritizes proactive cross-functional engagement.