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How Full Visibility Drives Results for BlackLine’s SaaS Management Program

Full visibility drives results for BlackLine's SaaS Management program.


Effective SaaS Management revolves around one critical factor: visibility. Without a clear understanding of what’s in use, managing, securing, and optimizing your SaaS portfolio becomes a shot in the dark.

Julie Day, Staff IT Asset Manager at BlackLine, vividly outlined this notion during our SaaSMe conference in her session, Don’t Stop Believin’ You Can Get Full Visibility into Your SaaS. Gaining visibility through Zylo transformed BlackLine’s SaaS Management program.

“You can’t manage what you can’t see,” Day began, stressing the foundational role of visibility in effective SaaS Management. This principle isn’t just about seeing what’s there. It’s about understanding what actions to take and securing the software landscape against potential threats and inefficiencies.

BlackLine’s Struggle with SaaS Visibility

The journey toward effective SaaS Management for BlackLine was full of complexities, stemming from a severe lack of visibility. As Julie Day highlighted, the initial landscape was cluttered and challenging to navigate.

“We were dealing with data silos,” explained Day. “Each department had its own reporting system, and pulling all that information together for a cohesive view was next to impossible.” 

Essential data was scattered across different systems without a central aggregation point. That made it extremely difficult for BlackLine to conduct unified, coherent analysis and decision-making.

How the Zylo Discovery Engine Powers the Most Comprehensive SaaS Management Platform

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Another significant hurdle was the absence of centralized inventory oversight. This gap in BlackLine’s strategy made it daunting to maintain an accurate count and assessment of all active software tools, leading to inefficiencies and increased costs.

Many of BlackLine’s software purchases were expensed ad hoc by various departments without central oversight. “We often found ourselves discovering purchases after the fact, which led to redundancy and underutilized tools,” Day remarked. 

Compounding these challenges was a significant overlap in technology functionalities that went unnoticed. Teams were using different tools that essentially did the same thing, draining valuable resources.

Addressing these challenges was imperative for BlackLine to streamline its operations and optimize its software spending. 

BlackLine’s Strategic Approach to SaaS Management

BlackLine adopted a methodical approach to tackle these challenges, including discovery, data buildout, identifying redundancy, and analyzing and monitoring usage.


Zylo Discovery EngineThe pivotal first step for BlackLine was implementing Zylo, a SaaS Management platform that provided centralized visibility into all their subscriptions. That visibility was made possible by a SaaS discovery process.

“Zylo became our central hub for SaaS visibility, allowing us to finally see the full landscape of our software ecosystem,” Julie emphasized. 

This foundational move enabled BlackLine to gain invaluable insights into their SaaS usage and expenditure.

Data Buildout

With Zylo in place, BlackLine embarked on a comprehensive data buildout process. 

Day explained, “We focused on establishing a robust inventory encompassing crucial details such as application ownership and contract specifics.” 

BlackLine’s meticulous approach ensured the team thoroughly understood its software assets, laying the groundwork for informed decision-making and strategic planning.

Identifying Redundancy

One of the most significant revelations during this process was the discovery of redundant applications within their software portfolio. 

App Compare - Redundant Applications“We uncovered instances where we had multiple project management platforms in use,” shared Day, “which was an eye-opener.” 

Obtaining visibility into redundant applications was the impetus for BlackLine to streamline its software stack.

Usage Analysis and Ongoing Monitoring

BlackLine didn’t view SaaS Management as a one-time endeavor but as an ongoing process. Day emphasized the importance of continuously analyzing software usage and monitoring their SaaS environment for any changes or inefficiencies. 

“Regular usage analysis allows us to ensure that our software resources are being optimally allocated and utilized,” she noted. Taking this proactive approach ensures that BlackLine remains agile and responsive to evolving business needs.

Quantifiable Success from Enhanced Visibility

BlackLine has realized impressive outcomes, demonstrating the transformative power of effective SaaS Management. Over the past year, BlackLine achieved a fourfold return on investment, which underscores the effectiveness of its strategic approach to SaaS Management.

  • In just the first quarter, the company also realized $60,000 in cost avoidance. This achievement was primarily due to reclaiming unused licenses, highlighting the importance of maintaining visibility into actual software usage.
  • Moreover, BlackLine saw a 400% increase in applications enabled with single sign-on (SSO). This substantial improvement in their security and access management capabilities is crucial in enhancing overall IT security.
  • They also reported a 49% reduction in their expense software spend. This reduction reflects more strategic purchasing decisions and better utilization of resources, showing how visibility can lead to smarter spending.

Together, these results drive substantial cost savings and enhance security and compliance across the organization.

4 Ways to Achieve Better Visibility

To kickstart your journey toward robust and effective SaaS Management, you must embrace a set of strategic, actionable steps that can significantly enhance your visibility across all SaaS platforms. 

#1 Invest in a SaaS Management Platform

Investing in a SaaS Management platform (SMP) can be a game-changer for your organization. 

“Once we implemented Zylo, the haze was lifted,” explained Day. “We could suddenly see not just the applications we were using, but how we were using them.”

Tools like a SMP offer a dashboard that integrates all your SaaS applications, providing insights into usage, costs, and user engagement at a glance. This centralized visibility enables you to make informed decisions about software renewals, adjustments, and cancellations, ultimately optimizing your SaaS portfolio and driving significant ROI.

#2 Implement Single Sign-On

Implementing single sign-on (SSO) simplifies user experience by reducing password fatigue, enhances security, and streamlines access management. BlackLine’s implementation resulted in a 400% increase in SSO-enabled apps, significantly improving their IT security posture. 

Day highlighted the dual benefits of this approach, noting, “SSO not only made our systems more secure, it also gave us a clearer picture of what was actually being used and by whom.”

#3 Centralize SaaS Purchases

Centralizing SaaS purchases can significantly reduce application redundancy and increase your leverage during negotiations. Day pointed out, “When we centralized our purchases, we were not only able to eliminate unnecessary tools but also strengthen our position in price negotiations with vendors.”

A centralized approach ensures that you avoid the pitfalls of scattered buying, such as duplicate subscriptions and unmanaged contract renewals.

#4 Monitor License Utilization

Monitoring license utilization across your app inventory is crucial for cutting costs and reducing wastage. As Day described, “Regularly reviewing our license utilization helped us quickly adjust our needs, reclaiming or reallocating licenses that were not being fully utilized.”

Gain Visibility into Your Full SaaS Inventory

By following the insights and strategies shared by experts like Julie Day and leveraging powerful tools like Zylo, organizations can foresee and master their SaaS environments. Pave the way for a more efficient, secure, and cost-effective digital workplace. 

Ready to gain comprehensive visibility into your SaaS inventory? Learn more about how Zylo can help at Zylo’s SaaS Visibility and Inventory Management or request a demo.