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All or Nothing: How 100% Visibility Into Your SaaS Stack Unlocks Massive Savings

saas visibility


You can’t manage what you can’t see. That’s true for every part of a business, but especially true for SaaS management. You need full visibility into your SaaS footprint to make informed decisions on how to move forward. 

That’s why we spoke with Karen Hodson, Global Procurement & Real Estate Officer at CM Group, on the importance of SaaS discovery and visibility. In this conversation from SaaSMe 2022, she shares with us how she’s been able to drive visibility into her company’s SaaS and take action on her learnings to drive massive savings. 

Along the way, she discussed the difference Zylo made to their SaaS management approach, and how it made the next steps to SaaS savings possible. 

Read on for the key takeaways or watch the full session below.

How CM Group Approached SaaS Management Pre-Zylo

Hodson explained that, before Zylo, her organization was tracking SaaS using manual methods such as spreadsheets. Which came with some inherent problems. For one, Hodson had no way of knowing with 100% confidence that the data they were working from was complete.  

Furthermore, managing M&A activity with unknown SaaS elements became another challenge. First, it was difficult to get the necessary data from the entities during M&A activities. Then second, that information had to be compared via spreadsheet with existing assets. As a result, Hodson found these methods were highly inaccurate.

Worse yet, it was impossible to use this data to make more than in-the-moment decisions. That’s when, according to Hodson, she realized it was critical to get a holistic view of their SaaS data. 

Why Visibility Into Your SaaS Spend Is So Important According

“Through Okta connections or Direct Connects that Zylo has with different tools out there like Salesforce and Asana and other software tools so that we can have even deeper visibility beyond a hey, this is what we buy and this is how much we pay,” said Hodson. “Well, this is how many licenses we’ve had and this is the utilization of those licenses. Having that information then allows us to actually have these discussions about renewals, well in advance.”

Hodson went on to stress the importance of this subject. She explained that 85% of their spend is SaaS spend. So, it was essential for CM Group to understand what that spending was on, why, and whether it was a meaningful investment. 

So, she answers this concern by holding procurement meetings with stakeholders throughout the business every month to go through what’s coming up in terms of SaaS. By pulling data with Zylo, and bringing that data to the table, they’re able to go over usage and other metrics well ahead of time to make a renewal decision. This data can also include spend information, timing, and tool comparison. These are key when discussing tools with owners about their overall SaaS needs. 

How Hodson Built a Strategy with 100% Visibility Despite Frequent M&A Activity

“On the M&A activity side,” said Hodson. “You can imagine, now we have this whole new set of information that comes in. We actually have two instances of Zylo because very often when you first do some M&A, your finance systems are separated, those things aren’t pushed together yet, but we want to start taking action right away. So having a second instance of Zylo allows us to connect to their finance systems and pull in that data, and then we’re doing an instant compare of what tools are the exact same.”

Hodson went on to say that using a tool like Zylo has allowed her and her team to be able to compare data from both organizations to see where they use the same tools. As a result, they were able to hold discussions on what was the right path forward for the organization as a whole. This means they are now able to answer the important questions of whether a tool should be consolidated or downsized after a merger.  

The Results

Throughout the session, Hodson said the ability to pull key data points and metrics allowed her and her team to immediately have the conversation on SaaS. In process, they were able to make action plans for successful synergies during M&A activities, and reduce spend and vendor count.

This is part of the program of recurring monthly department meetings to review current needs, upcoming renewals, and any new initiatives the departments want to add before it’s time to make a renewal decision. 

What Organizations Can Start Doing Today to Get 100% Visibility into Their SaaS

Hodson recounted the trouble she and her team experienced in trying to achieve 100% visibility of their SaaS usually manual methods before finding a tool like Zylo. Zylo gave them 100% visibility into spend that is far more reliable than any manual process like spreadsheets and human data entry. 

“The challenge is,” said Hodson. “Inevitably, the moment you create those spreadsheets, they become outdated. Always trying to update and keep them current is a challenge. And then when we do a lot of M&A activity, then that just kind of blows up every spreadsheet that you have, because now you have this whole new bucket coming in. Outdated spreadsheets are pretty much the only way we could figure out how to get our head around what was going on with our SaaS spend, so we very quickly trying to find a tool out there to help us do that.”

She went on to provide some actionable takeaways for the audience to start applying tomorrow to improve their businesses. 

After achieving visibility, Hodson recommended tackling your largest spend first for the quickest impact. Find out what you can do for these applications, and determine what change you can make immediately with those. Start with your top 10 spend applications, then start building your way down. Additionally, identify duplicative tools when possible for possible consolidation. 

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that 100% visibility on your SaaS data allows you to create a plan for action. It enables procurement teams to break down operational silos and get departments talking about their SaaS needs based on metrics such as usage and spend. In the process, they get a 1,000-foot view of the organization’s spend and vendor engagement to prepare for renewals far in advance.

According to Hodson, procurement’s job isn’t to make the final decision, but to get these conversations started with backup from the right data to drive action plans for next steps.

To hear the full session on the importance of 100% SaaS visibility from Karen Hodson, and other meaningful insights from IT experts, check out SaaSMe on-demand today.