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Why SaaS Management is a Team Sport

saas management team sport

SaaS management isn’t exclusive to any single department. The responsibility of making SaaS decisions sits with stakeholders from across the enterprise. These include the CIO and CFO, their teams, and all the way down to individual employees. That’s why we like to say SaaS management is a team sport.

In response, the most innovative and progressive IT and finance leaders today are working to foster collaboration across LOBs and stakeholders to effectively tackle the SaaS challenge.

During SaaSMe 2022, Cory Wheeler, Chief Customer Officer at Zylo, moderated a panel on building partnerships across organizations to drive impact with SaaS with:

  • Shravya Ravi – Manager, Asset Management at Linkedin
  • Gordon Atkin – VP, Technology & Business Platforms at Salsify
  • Chris Ortega – CEO, Fresh FP&A

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

What are CIOs and CFOs Trying to Accomplish?

All CFOs and CIOs are looking for two things: transparency and visibility in terms of what they’re spending money on. Though individual departments may know what they’re spending on SaaS, these higher-level C-suite positions still need that top-down visibility into what is being spent, why, and how across the organization.

There’s also a need for discipline in an organization. As Atkin pointed out, there was a lot of rigor around capital spending. However, with the proliferation of SaaS in recent years, that same rigor has been less and less stringent. A part of SaaS management is reintroducing this rigor and discipline into how SaaS is acquired and handled in an organization. 

The most important short-term benefit of SaaS management is of course visibility. However, it’s more than that. It’s ultimately about empowering the organization to achieve long-term goals, make better business decisions, and drive overall operational efficiency.

“When you look at app owners,” said Ravi. “They actually know what they’re spending money on, but there might be three other app owners spending the same money on the same thing. We just need to get that visibility throughout the organization.

For financial teams, SaaS management is a massive opportunity to centralize SaaS spending and get a solid handle on it. With visibility on centralized SaaS spending, CFOs and finance teams are able to quickly make immediate impacts on the business. It’s only a matter of partnering throughout the organization to move forward with the right information. 

“This is one of the biggest opportunities that CFOs have to really make that immediate cashflow impact in their business.” Said Ortega. “And it’s traditionally not the first place that people go.”

SaaS Management Isn’t a Short-Term Game

SaaS isn’t a one-and-done project. It’s a program. It’s a process. It’s about setting up a system to maintain the long-term health of your SaaS environment for the best ROI and efficiency. 

There are certainly short-term benefits, which include immediate and actionable insights to cut spending and reduce redundancy. However, it’s more than that. It’s about taking the opportunity to set up for medium and long-term impacts as well. 

By having a long-term SaaS management strategy, you are continuously improving and optimizing your SaaS environment for better results. 

SaaS Management Has to be a Highly Collaborative Initiative

SaaS management doesn’t occur in a silo, and it isn’t certainly something that’s performed by a single department. Effective SaaS management requires collaboration across departments throughout the organization. 

The most essential component of this collaboration is executive sponsorship. This is because the initiative is being driven from the top down. Executive sponsorship dictates company policy and makes any program of SaaS management more likely to be followed.

But it certainly doesn’t end there. This is an effort that spans the organization. IT teams need to bring in finance teams, and they need to bring IT and other groups together to go out into the business and work with application owners. This doesn’t need to happen all at once. Simply prioritize and focus on the top spend apps first.

To identify ownership, focus on your stakeholder personas. These are key personas within various departments that should have full transparency. And they should have access to the SaaS management system to create a strong system of collaboration that brings an understanding of SaaS spending across LOBs. 

This includes the FP&A persona who can give a budget perspective. Though, this stakeholder may not have a complete awareness of a given vendor across multiple LOBs. That’s why it’s important to start the SaaS management conversation on that level.

The next persona you should consider is procurement. This is the one doing the renewal and negotiation side of SaaS management. They’re critical in making sure you’ve got a procurement flow that scales with the size of your organization, and reign in the cost and controls that you need to manage spending. 

“When you’re really into the motion of managing SaaS spend,” said Atkin. “Everybody in the organization … When I say everybody, you’re going to have key personas within different departments that are going to take a lead role.”

The best way to bring these stakeholders together is to partner with them. This means working with your stakeholders on what they need to do their jobs, and in return, they contribute to the overall system of SaaS management. 

“I’ve been part of SaaS teams where we hire a partner that helps us negotiate, helps us bring in that ‘batteries included’ knowledge to help fill the gaps in the personas that we don’t have in the organization,” said Ortega. “So, I think for CFOs out there that are managing those small businesses, get you and build great partners.”

Go Together to Go Further

In the past, CFOs and finance organizations have been dismissive of a collaborative approach to SaaS. Rather than looking at what could cause meaningful change, they focused on reducing the spending on line items and delegating the task to make it happen for the CIO.

However, now there’s an opportunity to drive meaningful change by working together and creating partnerships throughout the organization. CFOs need to stay curious and understand what their peers need to do their job. 

“If you want to move fast, go alone.” said Ortega. “If you want to move further, go together. Those are the conversations. You’ve got to get down with the business and speak the language of what it means to be a chief marketing officer and why they have the solutions. Help me understand that. So I think putting the ABCs into the office of the CFO, the always curious aspect of it and connecting the dots between why it’s important, what’s in it for that business partner, and here’s where we’re going together. That is where you see those top echelon, office of the CFOs and finance professionals really driving this spend management strategy.”

Collaboration Is Key to Effective SaaS Management

At the end of the day, SaaS management is a team sport that requires collaboration and effort from members from all across the organization. That’s why Zylo provides a service that allows enterprises to gain full visibility of their SaaS portfolio, and easily show their team the importance of SaaS management with actionable insights into the SaaS environment. 

To hear the full session on why SaaS management is a team sport, and other meaningful insights from IT experts, check out our SaaSMe on-demand today