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Top Expensed SaaS Applications

expensed SaaS

As the leading SaaS Management platform, Zylo helps thousands of businesses discover, manage, and optimize their SaaS application inventories. For many of these customers, the first order of business requires identifying all of the SaaS applications currently maintained by its workforce.

As the acquisition of subscription-based software continues to become more decentralized due to employee-led purchases, identifying SaaS acquired via expense-spending channels becomes even more important.

Today, about one in five employees expense SaaS, with 7% of SaaS spend coming from employees, according to Zylo’s 2022 SaaS Management Index. It results in $4.5 million per year for the average organization. Even though expense spending only makes up about 7% of total spending on SaaS, it accounts for the majority of SaaS inventory quantity, meaning more applications come from expense spending than accounts payable.

To help businesses better identify and understand their employees’ expense spending habits on SaaS, we mined our customer data to uncover the top 10 expensed SaaS applications for 2022.

Read on to learn more about the top five, and see why these applications frequently appear on expense reports.

Top Expensed SaaS Applications

(by transaction volume)

  1. LinkedIn Premium – new for 2022
  2. Adobe Creative Cloud – new for 2022
  3. Spotify
  4. Twilio – new for 2022
  5. Dropbox
  6. Github
  7. Adobe Acrobat
  8. MailChimp
  9. Momentive (SurveyMonkey)
  10. Google Workspace

1. LinkedIn Premium

LinkedIn expensed SaaSIt’s really no surprise LinkedIn Premium moved up to the top position of most expensed SaaS, considering most of us use LinkedIn for professional networking, sales intelligence, or talent acquisition. LinkedIn’s bevy of products, including LinkedIn Premium, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and LinkedIn Talent, also appeared multiple times across our list of top expensed SaaS applications, so we’ve consolidated them as one item for the sake of brevity.

LinkedIn Premium offers members enhanced features like additional InMail messages, insights on who’s viewed your profile, as well as access to LinkedIn Learning. While Premium may be primarily targeted towards job seekers, employees frequently reimburse it as an expense related to professional development.

With pricing starting around $30 per month, LinkedIn Premium’s relatively low cost makes it an extremely likely line item on any business’ expense transaction report.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator, as the name suggests, enables sales pros to seek intelligence on their prospects, while LinkedIn Talent enables recruiters and talent acquisition pros to dive deeper into candidates’ profiles and communicate more frequently via InMail. Given that LinkedIn hosts more than 810 million members, these sales and talent tools are must-haves for many organizations.

2. Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe expensed SaaS

Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes the immensely popular Adobe Acrobat, of course, is a must-have for almost any employee who needs to edit PDFs. Creative Cloud offers an extraordinarily affordable and highly applicable suite of on-demand applications, including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, XD, Dreamweaver, and Premiere. At the time of writing, access to the full suite of SaaS applications available under Creative Cloud costs just $52.99 a month, while a la carte plans cost as little as $9.99 per month

That said, if your company employs a graphic designer, UX designer, video editor, or front-end developer, you’re very likely to find Adobe Creative Cloud in your SaaS stack. These powerful tools are incredibly popular, affordable, and very simple to download. So it’s no wonder they make number two on our top expensed SaaS list.

3. Spotify

Spotify expensed SaaS

A music streaming service holds the number three position on our list for the second year in a row. But honestly, we’re not too surprised given Spotify’s extreme popularity. To date, it has more than 406 million users, including 180 million premium subscribers.

There are a number of possibilities for expensing a music streaming service. For instance, many tech-forward companies provide a monthly technology or wellbeing stipend for their employees, giving them the option to spend it on a variety of services, including entertainment apps.

Other possibilities include businesses using the streaming service to play music in lobbies and workspaces, or employees expensing Spotify as professional development resources (podcasts and other audio-based learning). 

Spotify will frequently appear in expense transactions due to its very affordable price, currently $9.99 per month, and its monthly billing cycles.

4. Twilio

Twilio expensed SaaSTwilio saw the biggest year-over-year jump in our expensed SaaS rankings, moving up from ninth place over the previous year. It’s not too surprising considering how the company closed out 2021 with over 250,000 active customers, and reported a 65% year-over-year increase in revenue.

According to the cloud communications platform, “Twilio has democratized communications channels like voice, text, chat, video, and email by virtualizing the world’s communications infrastructure through APIs that are simple enough for any developer to use, yet robust enough to power the world’s most demanding applications.”

We suspect the high number of expense transactions results from Twilio’s usage-based pricing model, meaning customers only pay for what they use. Because Twilio customers pay as they go and typically avoid long-term contracts, they’re more likely to use the service on an as-needed basis, making it more likely to end up as a line item expense.

5. Dropbox

Dropbox expensed SaaS

Already a leader in the cloud-based storage and file management space, Dropbox became even more essential for many organizations as workers transitioned to work-from-home and hybrid models due to the pandemic. And with more workers permanently working in hybrid environments today, businesses increasingly need cloud-based storage solutions to streamline collaboration and make file sharing seamless.

Dropbox offers a freemium pricing tier, so it’s an extremely easy storage ecosystem to get started in. However, as the usage within a team or business unit grows and exceeds 2GB, users need to switch to the paid offering, which starts at $9.99 per month.

If you’ve already committed to using the free offering and rely on cloud storage for business functions, it’s no wonder Dropbox’s monthly charges appear frequently on expense transaction reports.

What Can You Do About Frequently Expensed SaaS Applications?

At Zylo, we believe effective SaaS Management requires continual discovery, active monitoring, and identification of all new SaaS expense purchases. Check out some ways to create a cloud governance framework and prevent expensed SaaS applications from costing your organization.

App catalog

Zylo’s App Catalog makes it easy for employees to quickly find the SaaS applications they need, which can reduce expense spending and shadow IT.

Practice freedom with a framework

Freedom with a framework is a popular management strategy that essentially puts specific guardrails in place, and then allows employees to make their own choices within the confines of the framework. For SaaS, it means allowing employees to choose their favorite tools from a pre-approved App Catalog.

Today’s workers increasingly value employee flexibility, and allowing them to easily discover and self-select their preferred tools can not only raise awareness about your full SaaS inventory and increase application utilization, it also reduces shadow IT since employees pull from a pre-vetted App Catalog.

Utilize SaaS benchmarking

SaaS benchmarking involves comparing your internal data against external sources to optimize processes, control costs, and improve performance.

A best-in-class SaaS Management platform shows how many licenses you hold for each application, utilization data, and cost. Benchmarking adds an additional layer of context, allowing you to see how your organization compares to similar organizations.

SaaS benchmarking will help you spot an excess of expense payments for a specific application or license type, and allow you to analyze utilization to ensure the necessity of the expensed tool.

Create a software review and approval process

For many organizations, introducing more rigid governance around SaaS acquisition can keep expense spending in check. Your software approval process can be as simple as a quick form submission to request a new application, or as comprehensive as involving a cross-collaborative team to review each new application request (e.g., Procurement, IT, Legal, and Accounting).

While a software review board will inevitably slow down the acquisition process and restrict who can acquire software, many Zylo customers say it effectively reduces shadow IT and expense spending.

Do you know your organization’s top 10 most expensed SaaS applications? When you have employees expensing SaaS, that can lead to shadow IT. Stay ahead of the game by learning more about the three common sources of shadow IT and how SaaS discovery can help.