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How to Assign SaaS Ownership Across the Enterprise

saas ownership

Technology leaders from a range of disciplines can learn how to assign SaaS ownership across multiple levels within their organizations.

SaaS Ownership for Enterprise Leaders

1. Embrace SaaS as an essential component of digital transformation

With SaaS playing an increasingly larger role in enterprise tech investment, the question of creating an enterprise-specific SaaS ownership strategy has never been more important.

More than 73% of business technology is currently purchased outside of IT. Executive leaders and IT teams responsible for driving enterprise policy should work collaboratively with lines of business to establish new strategic ground rules that enable flexibility within a governance framework.

2. Define a SaaS strategy with decentralized ownership

Decentralized SaaS technology’s rapid advance demands a new approach. Whereas traditional on-premises management models tasked with provisioning and deployment of software via central IT teams, the adoption of SaaS places ownership and management in the hands of lines of business.

To harness the speed and agility of SaaS for business without creating undue risks for security, data, or budget compliance, IT leaders should own the overall enterprise SaaS governance strategy and monitor application inventories, but allow line of businesses to acquire and manage SaaS as needed within a best practices model.

To do so, a framework is needed that allows LoBs to responsibly manage individual application life cycles while maintaining line of sight for leadership.

3. Balance governance with SaaS agility

To maintain SaaS applications’ unique effectiveness, don’t seek to manage all purchased applications. Instead, create tiers of governance and control based on each application’s cost and impact across the business. To maintain speed and agility, empower LoBs to responsibly take ownership of vetted technology investments appropriate to their role in the organization.

Then, prioritize the central management of large, sensitive, and strategic applications. One of the most effective tools tech leaders can deploy to avoid SaaS mismanagement is a central system of record that enables the assignment of SaaS ownership and appropriate roles to stakeholders, LoBs, and individual application users.

SaaS Ownership for Line of Business Leaders

1. Collaborate on SaaS goals

As an enterprise strategy for decentralized SaaS application ownership develops across the organization, IT teams and LoB owners must first agree on a source of truth for SaaS.

Zylo solves the macro-level issue of accurately inventorying an enterprise SaaS portfolio by discovering all SaaS applications purchased and implemented within the business, then continually monitoring and updating this system of record.

With a mutual understanding of the current state of SaaS inventory, LoB and enterprise leaders can confidently collaborate on a strategic vision for optimizing the SaaS tech stack.

3. Define owned SaaS inventory attributes

To bolster decision-making toward goals, LoB SaaS owners can supplement the system of record and the understanding of each application’s strategic role in the organization by documenting the attributes of their respective owned SaaS inventory.

Application owners can attribute catalog information such as function types, cost centers, vendor notification periods, actual renewal dates, projected spend, as well as data, security, and privacy compliance information.

With this information, leaders and LoB owners can identify governance and compliance exceptions, contain costs by eliminating redundant applications, work towards defining standard applications, and leverage enterprise license agreements where appropriate.

4. Manage SaaS application lifecycles

With oversight best practices in place and a system of record created, LoB application owners can assume responsibility for managing the life cycles of their owned SaaS inventory.

LoB owners retain ownership over purchasing and managing SaaS applications, but use IT derived best practices for application vetting, onboarding tasks, ongoing measurement of user adoption and usage, and application renewals or off-boarding.

This includes the discovery of initial entry into the SaaS stack, storage of contract documents and associated metadata, assigning user-appropriate roles or views for employee-level users, creating reporting around user adoption and sentiment, reprovisioning tools to manage licenses, and a renewal calendar for all applications.

SaaS Ownership for Employees

1. Give employees the big picture

In the scheme of planning the overall SaaS strategy, individual employees have little involvement. Yet, as individual buyers in organizations, employees’ actions (or inactions) have a dramatic cumulative effect on the quantity and quality of SaaS in inventory.

To be effective, a SaaS ownership strategy must acknowledge this effect and strive to train individual employees on SaaS purchase and adoption policies, compliance to security, privacy and data standards, and overall stewardship of technology. J

ust as many organizations have emplaced rigorous controls to maintain cybersecurity hygiene among employees (training sessions on phishing attacks, etc.), promoting good software hygiene is equally important.

2. Ensure responsible SaaS ownership

Employees who purchase or manage SaaS applications on behalf of the business but on an individual basis have an inherent responsibility to be a good steward of the technology investments they’ve made.

This includes acknowledging and understanding the risks that even freeware or low-cost SaaS applications pose, such as when company or customer data is used within an application.

One approach to ensuring responsible SaaS ownership is building a vetting and review process as a measure of quality control for which new applications enter the overall SaaS inventory.

If and when employees propose a new application to purchase, IT can complete a quick review of current application inventory (to prevent duplicative purchases) and vet the application for financial, legal, data, or other compliance criteria, thereby incrementally creating a catalog of trusted applications.

3. Collect employee experience feedback to inform SaaS ownership strategy

Individual employees can also positively influence SaaS ownership strategy by ensuring user adoption, sentiment, and usage information reaches LoB or business leaders. Enabling a continual dialog about what technology works—and what doesn’t—can help prevent underutilization and contain costs.

The continued growth of SaaS tools and services with business technology environments represents a number of distinct and varied challenges. Chief among them is the primary question of ownership. However, with a detailed understanding of inventory, functionality, and spending, defining SaaS ownership can help leverage improved value from investments in SaaS tools.

To get started discovering your organization’s SaaS environment and optimizing every dollar invested, book a free demo of Zylo’s SaaS management platform.