How to Choose a SaaS Management Platform? (2022 SMP Buying Guide)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

There are many SaaS management platforms in the market today. They vary in terms of their use cases and features offering, and one size does not fit all.

This makes it difficult to evaluate which one is best for you. Read this article to find out how to choose one that best suits your needs.

The discovery engine is the foundation of a SaaS management solution. Any SMP can be only as good as its discovery engine. All the other features, like license, vendor, contract management, spend optimization, etc., are based on the discovery engine. 

Unless you discover a SaaS app in your organization, you can't manage, optimize and secure it.

Qualities of an SMP

Therefore, the first thing you need to see is how powerful is SMP's discovery engine. Then, you need to evaluate the other key aspects of an SMP—spend optimization, risk management, and automation of IT tasks.

Now, let's see how to evaluate each of these four pillars of a SaaS management system.

How to Evaluate an SMP

A SaaS management software may be used by people from multiple departments, not just the IT department. So, if that is the case in your organization, make sure to involve them in the procurement process.

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Step 1: Assess the SaaS Discovery Capability

We have already discussed that the discovery engine of an SMP is the foundation of any SMP. It helps in eliminating shadow IT, app portfolio rationalization, etc.

  • App library: An SMP can only discover apps that are in its app library. So, the bigger the app library, the larger the number of apps it can discover.

Since our inception, we have known the importance of SaaS discovery. So, we—at Zluri—built the world's largest app library with over 225,000 apps that keep on expanding as new apps come into the market on a regular basis. 

  • No. of discovery methods: The robustness of discovery depends on how an SMP finds applications. 

Generally, just one discovery method is not sufficient to discover all apps. The more methods that are available for discovering applications, the better the discovery engine of the SMP is. 

Zluri discovers any new app as soon as it enters your SaaS ecosystem. We use five discovery methods to uncover 100% of SaaS apps in your organization, including both free and paid apps. 

These methods are SSO & id providers, finance & expense management, direct integration through APIs, desktop agents (optional), and browser extension (optional).

5 discovery methods

Not only the app but Zluri also discovers all your users as well. You can select the source for department, users, and their title by navigating to the setting option.

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  • Can it discover apps across the web, mobile, and desktop? This is an important consideration as new apps come in all forms. For example, Slack and Trello have all three versions. 

Your SMP should be able to discover that app no matter if they are accessing the mobile app, desktop app, or web app.

You can view this in the app tab in the app type column in Zluri.

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  • How transparent is the vendor about the working of their discovery engine? Most SaaS management tool providers don't show the working of their app discovery engine. This is where Zluri excels. Transparency is the core value at Zluri. 

You can learn more about the working of Zluri's discovery enginehere. We have described the working of each method and what data we collect. 

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Step 2: Evaluate the Cost Optimization Capabilities

According to a Gartner report, approx one-third of the SaaS budget gets wasted. This wastage happens in the form of redundant apps and licenses. 

For example- duplicate apps or apps with overlapping functionality, unused or underused apps, auto-renewals, abandoned licenses, and unsuitable license tiers.

You can read more about how to eliminate SaaS wastage using our DUAAS framework.

  • No. of direct integrations: The higher the number of direct integrations, the better the SMP is. This is because direct integrations give you granular SaaS usage data that other sources may not provide.  

The SaaS usage data help you make data-informed decisions, so you are not taking actions based on gut feelings. Direct integrations are the best source for usage data as it is directly coming from the source of truth.

In this aspect, Zluri beats all the SMP in the market. It has direct integrations via API with over 750 SaaS apps—and this number keeps growing every month. See the list of apps with which direct integrations are available in Zluri.

Additionally, Zluri is the only SaaS management provider offering custom integration on-demand within a record turnaround time of 36 hours.

  • App insights for cost optimization: The SMP should provide you with insights into your SaaS stack for spend management and cost optimization. 

For example, insights on:

  • Licenses that are not assigned to any user

  • Apps with similar use cases

  • Licenses tiers can be downgraded to lower tiers if the users are not using the features of the premium tier.

Zluri automatically captures SaaS spending and provides recommendations for all of the above-mentioned cases.

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Unassigned Licenses

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Apps with Overlapping Functionality 

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App Insights for Cost Optimization

  • Contract and License management: Handling 100+ contracts manually or on spreadsheets can be prone to human error. IT teams may spend on unnecessary apps due to missing out on crucial information like renewal date, billing frequency, and auto-renewals.

While choosing an SMP, ensure that it is able to extract all the contract metadata so that you know which vendors are on auto-renewal and what are their payment terms. 

This will help the procurement and IT teams negotiate proactively with the SaaS vendors. All the contracts should be visible in one place and easily accessible.

The SMP should be able to provide alerts or reminders for the renewal dates of the contracts and payments. This will help to prepare for the negotiation with data insights on SaaS usage and plan whether to renew or terminate an app.

Zluri helps with contract management by maintaining a system of records for storing important information and files associated with contracts. 

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Zluri's renewal calendar gives an overview of all the upcoming SaaS renewals.

renewals

This helps you avoid surprise auto-renewals. For contracts, you get alerts 30 days, 15 days, and one day in advance. For payment, you get seven days and 1-day alerts. 

Zluri's renewal calendar also enables you to prioritize renewals that need your most attention by setting custom alerts. 

For example, you can prioritize high-value contracts.

reminders

Moreover, Zluri gives you insights into hidden and true-up costs.

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In the cost column, the amount mentioned in the contract appears, while the actual amount you paid is there in the Spend column. The bigger the difference is, the higher you are charged than what is mentioned in the contract. 

Zluri also enables you to allocate SaaS budget to departments and track the actual spending. So, you can present the spend data when asking for budgets from the management.

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Department-wise Budget vs. Spend

Moreover, you get insights into app category-wise spending.

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  • Reports: Another important consideration while choosing the SMP is the spend reports. 

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Zluri SaaS Spend Reports

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Step 3: Find the Risk Management Capabilities

As SaaS apps contain your sensitive information, such as customers, employees, vendors, IP, and other confidential information, it is necessary for your SaaS management software to find and mitigate the risks associated with using these applications. 

This can be done in multiple ways. For example, your SMP can show you the risk level of apps and the users using them. Your SMP should also show you the compliance standard of different apps and vendors.

Let's see how Zluri helps you be compliant and secure. 

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  • Risky apps: You can restrict risky apps directly within Zluri. When any user tries to access these apps, both—they and you—get alerts. 

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  • Zluri keeps you updated on the recent events that affect the security or compliance of the app.

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  • Zluri shows the threat level for each app based on what kind of company data is shared with the app. For example, if it is just the email address, which is not very sensitive info, it will mark a threat level of 1 or 2. On the other hand, if your customer info is shared, which is confidential, the threat level will be 3, 4, or 5. 

The other factor, Zluri considers when assigning a threat level to these apps is what kind of permission they have. Permission to delete or modify the data (threat level 4 or 5) is considered riskier than just having read access (threat level 3). 

For individual scope

Permission/Data Shared with App

Threat Level

Nonsensitive data

0, 1, 2

Sensitive data - view

3

Sensitive data - manage (create/edit/share)

4

Sensitive data - delete

5

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  • Zluri also shows the users who have exposed sensitive data with a lot of SaaS apps.

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  • Furthermore, Zluri helps you properly deprovision (revoke users' access to apps) at the time of offboarding. Currently, there is no solution that does it as well as Zluri. According to a OneLogin report, currently, 20% of the ex-employees (or ex-vendors) may access company data. Imagine someone from your company joining your competitor and having access to your CRM.

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Step 4: Evaluate the Automation Capabilities

When an employee joins the company, IT and SaaS operation managers need to spend a lot of time giving them access to and revoking their access to SaaS apps. Therefore, automating this process is a core task of an SMP. This will save time spent on repetitive and mundane IT tasks. 

On the employee's side, it would be a good experience as they get access to all the tools required to do their job on day 1. Otherwise, it's a frustrating experience waiting for the tools.

You can use our ROI calculator to see how many hours you are currently wasting on these tasks if you are doing them manually.

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With Zluri, you can build onboarding and onboarding workflows. When creating onboarding workflows, Zluri gives you app suggestions based on their seniority and department.

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Zluri's recommendations are not limited to just apps; it also gives in-app suggestions, like what project, channels, and groups to add them to.

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Further, you can save these workflows as playbooks. So that next time someone joins at the same role, you just need to run the playbook.

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Offboarding is a one-click task with Zluri. You just need to run the offboarding playbook.

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Recently, we launched the employee app store. The employee app store's dashboard is loaded with the apps in your organization. Employees can find details like which apps they are using and what apps are used in their department. 

This self-serve solution helps employees choose the right apps that meet their needs. It also gives flexibility to employees to choose their app within the guardrails.

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Employee App Store

The IT team can now streamline the SaaS approval process, i.e., automate it, configure the number of approvers and decide the apps and app data that would be visible/hidden for departments/employees. This saves a lot of time for IT teams, and every SaaS purchase happens openly, preventing the entry of shadow apps.

Don't Just Choose an SMP. Choose a Tool that Makes you Business Enabler

Traditionally, IT teams have been working separately from the other departments. They were seen as a department that often blocks things in the name of security and delays the work.

SaaS management platforms are a game changer promising to make IT departments as business enablers. An SMP like Zluri helps IT teams collaborate with other departments like finance, HR, procurement, etc.

You can collaborate with department heads by sharing app ownership. 

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Maintain app ownership 

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Delegate Ownership for Various Tasks with Finance Owner and Alternate Owner

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Book a Demo

FEATURED BLOGS

A Framework to Eliminate SaaS Wastage

SaaS Vendor Management in 2022: The Definitive Guide

Symptoms of an Unoptimized SaaS Stack (+ Solutions)

SaaS Sprawl - The Ultimate Guide

Shadow IT in the SaaS World - A Complete Guide

FEATURED BLOGS

A Framework to Eliminate SaaS Wastage

‘Muda’ is used to describe any activity that uses resources but doesn't generate value. It is the Toyota system for identifying and eliminating waste in all forms. It is the same thing that helps Toyota sell more cars than Ford, General Motors, and Honda at a higher margin.

SaaS Vendor Management in 2022: The Definitive Guide

An obese SaaS stack leads to SaaS wastage. It's a disease! It not only causes financial issues but also gives you security and compliance problems. That's why you must keep tight control on your SaaS stack. And it begins with managing your SaaS vendors. 

Symptoms of an Unoptimized SaaS Stack (+ Solutions)

In this post, we've discussed 7 symptoms of an unoptimized SaaS stack and solutions to optimize the same.

SaaS Sprawl - The Ultimate Guide

When an organization has a large number of SaaS applications in its SaaS stack, it gives rise to SaaS Sprawl.

Shadow IT in the SaaS World - A Complete Guide

In this post, you'll learn about shadow IT due to SaaS apps. You'll also learn the most common types of shadow apps categories, shadow IT risks, and shadow IT benefits.

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