Managing SaaS in an Enterprise

Sethu Meenakshisundaram

2nd September, 2021


Even a less than 50 employee startup still struggles to manage their SaaS applications. Think about an enterprise that has more than 3000 employees. They need a clearly structured SaaS management plan; else, they will get into the trap of SaaS sprawl.

In this article, we will see how SaaS management is done at the enterprise level, what their focus is, and what tools they rely on for carrying out SaaS management.

Today, big enterprises stand undefended and unaffected by the pandemic because they have invested in a plethora of SaaS services that helped them function smoothly without disruptions. In addition, they have provided the employees with the necessary resources like laptops and routers for remote work. 

The Prevalence Of SaaS

SaaS prevalence has three perspectives –– End user's story, IT's story, and the story of the SaaS vendors. 

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End-users rely on SaaS for ease of accessibility. They can use it from literally anywhere and would just need an internet connection. 

Also, unlike on-prem software that is rarely updated, SaaS makes sure you have the latest features and functionality that belong to your industry. 

Now even the just bloomed startups can use the same SaaS tools used by the more prominent players and are already part of the best practices. 

IT departments no longer need to worry about the maintenance and installation costs. While onboarding new employees, IT teams can instantly procure licenses for SaaS applications and give access to employees. It's faster and simpler.

For SaaS vendors, the whole selling process has become simple. They can come up with one application and give out necessary updates every month. 

The Core Of SaaS Management in Enterprises

SaaS has seen visible growth and is expected to touch its peak in the next 5-6 years. This means SaaS usage has become more prominent, and companies need to implement top-notch SaaS management measures to take care of the SaaS landscape. 

They need to focus on SaaS governance that includes onboarding and offboarding SaaS apps, compliance requirements of SaaS applications, etc., which needs to be clearly established. SaaS sprawl and non-compliance can be the major pitfalls that can occur due to improper management of SaaS. 

Enterprises must have a short-term as well as long-term SaaSification strategy when it comes to SaaS. These strategies should have your business goals in mind. 

The short-term strategies can be more focused on the technologies that you are currently equipped with. It should be how you correlate with the immediate business priorities such as Marketing, HR, Procurement, Finance, etc. 

The long-term strategies must be digital transformation plans, applications road map (moving from on-prem to SaaS), building SaaS governance policies, and data governance strategy (since SaaS adoption over a period of time can take a lot of private data that needs to be governed). 

The IT leaders and the business leaders must build the SaaS roadmap or SaaS strategy blueprint for the enterprise that helps institutionalize SaaS adoption in an organized way.

1. Spreadsheets Are a Big No

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The spreadsheet approach for managing SaaS is very common, even at the enterprise level. Only 20% on the whole use SaaS management platforms, which means the rest, 80%, still rely on the manual approach. 

Spreadsheets are prone to human errors and do not get updated on their own when new SaaS app procurement happens. 

The IT departments need to chase users and departments to collect information on SaaS procurement and update it manually, which is extremely time-consuming and tiring. Also, after procurement, you never know whether the application is used effectively and is bringing value. Spreadsheets can't measure usage or ROI. 

2. SaaS Apps are Equally Safe As On-Prem

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A common thought is that on-prem, even though it is expensive and has many processes to install and maintain, is by far the safest compared to SaaS. 

In SaaS apps, all the data is stored in the cloud, which means you never know who can access it or whether it's safe. This is a myth. 

SaaS is as safe as on-prem. The SaaS vendors who claim to be compliant have to go through many compliance checks, obtain a certificate, and then only make such claims. 

Several compliance standards have evolved through the years for one to be PCI DSS compliant if you are a payment software vendor, you need to be GDPR compliant if you have a global presence, especially in European countries, and you need to have CCPA compliance if you have your business in California. So there are plenty of compliance certifications like these.

So, SaaS vendors get these certifications to validate their compliance.

But financial institutions like Banks still rely on the mainframe one. Though SaaS can make their work easy and automate entire workflows, they still do a lot of tasks manually as they fear data breaches.

Yes, SaaS has many challenges but can be easily tackled if there is an automated SaaS management system that gives off alerts and notifications when malicious tools are signed up or used. 

For example, we never think before signing up for Microsoft Dynamics or Oracle because we trust them. You need to trust your SaaS vendors and verify and validate them for your industries (the areas you must be compliant with). 

The Future Of SaaS

SaaS companies must focus on bringing three things together in the future. 

  • The first is automation. Every user wants this as a significant feature in any SaaS product. No one wants to do repetitive tasks over and over again. 

  • The second one is artificial intelligence. AI can take over the business process, but still, there will be an end-user who has to validate these transactions. 

  • The next level will be including Robot Process automation underneath their SaaS architecture. 

These features coupled together can be an enormous success as well as a great find for companies. 

Role of SaaS Management Software and the Changes That Needs to be Made

SaaS management platforms offer IT heads a dashboard of all the applications that run in their company. The dashboard consists of a list of applications and department-wise or employee-wise usage and spend details. 

With pandemic making SaaS growth faster, an SMP is the best resort for companies to keep a check on their SaaS budget as well as keep the SaaS arena neatly shaped. Moreover, it can easily integrate with your Okta or any other SSO or Active directory. 

Also, they come with bidirectional integrations, which means you can connect it with some other SaaS tools as well. So, for example, it's like how you sign in to many platforms with Google credentials. 

For businesses to opt for SaaS management platforms, SMP vendors must start bringing modern features and architecture to their products. This should help companies get a comprehensive view, especially enterprises that have to invest in thousands of applications. 

Then they must come up with feature-level usage data so that companies can know what the most used features are and which are left unused. Also, this must be able to tell the overlapping functionalities that are present in multiple SaaS applications.

It must also be able to figure out the SaaS applications that are valuable to the business and are helpful in bringing more customers. These kinds of intelligence-rich features can attract companies to choose SMP over Spreadsheets. 

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