10 Policies to Ensure Reliable SaaS Management

Rohit Rao

17th January, 2024


SaaS management is a practice for IT teams to ensure proper use of SaaS resources, maintain a good employee experience, and meet business goals while keeping data safe and secure.

The practices that were used to manage on-prem software are now redefined to manage SaaS but are sufficient in the remote workspace.

As opposed to on-prem software, SaaS comes with its own challenges. Three of the biggest challenges with SaaS applications are that:

  • there is no visibility on the total number of SaaS resources the organization has,

  • How the users utilize SaaS applications, and 

  • what happens to data in the cloud. This poses security and compliance risks.

This non-visibility is due to organizations being unaware of the proper way to manage their SaaS apps. They still rely on outdated models of record keeping- which is storing the information about SaaS subscriptions on spreadsheets. 

Spreadsheets are not a smart way to manage the complexities that come with cloud-based tools, as there is more to SaaS management than just vendors, licenses, and renewals. 

A holistic approach towards SaaS management should cover threat analysis and compliance risks. Further, the right approach will act as a guide to help you derive insights on things like user and department-wise usage of every SaaS app and also help you with effectively using your IT budget. 

This article will cover the security and management policies that are required to effectively manage the increased adoption of SaaS in your workplace. 

Policies for SaaS Management

1. Discover and Organize Your SaaS Resources

The most important step to begin with SaaS management is to find out the total number of SaaS apps used in your organization. Effective SaaS discovery process will give you a clear picture of every SaaS resource your employees use. However, this process is time-consuming if done manually and may even take weeks or months, depending on the number of employees in your organization.

Also, make a provision to add new SaaS products to your record as and when you purchase new subscriptions, remove those subscriptions you are no longer subscribed to, and keep this data updated at all times; this will let you:

  • Have full visibility on SaaS resources

  • Effective vendor management

  • Negotiate your renewals better 

  • Optimize SaaS spend

  • Gain insights on how much SaaS a user use at any given time

Having this data is helpful in the effective planning of your next SaaS renewal and budget.

If you have to discover SaaS manually and still rely on spreadsheets to record this information, then consider using a tool like Zluri that can automate SaaS discovery and management for you in a single dashboard, giving you 100% visibility on your company’s total SaaS stack in less than few minutes. 

2. Management of User Lifecycle

SaaS user lifecycle management includes changes in how an employee will use SaaS throughout their career advancement. It includes role changes, promotions, and withdrawal of access upon exit from the company. 

When an employee leaves an organization, you either need to terminate their licenses or transfer them to ones who join in their place. Therefore, an ideal SaaS user lifecycle management should include:

  • Assignment of tools to the first-time users: This includes granting access to those tools the user will require to perform their job on time. 

  • Training to use the SaaS tool: If the tool is complicated, the user will require training. Training should be given to new joinee and those who are being assigned the tools for the first time.

  • Set only necessary permissions: Employees need specific permissions as per their role, which will change throughout their tenure in the organization. Hence the permission needs changes and upgrades at regular intervals.

  • Revoking Access: When employees leave the organization, their licenses for SaaS tools need to be revoked so that they do not have access to any kind of company's data. Not managing this properly can have serious repercussions. Also, if an employee does not have a requirement for a certain SaaS tool, their permission or license to that SaaS tool should be revoked and either canceled (or transferred) to those who need it.

3. Prevention of Data Breach

Prevention of Data Breach

Every organization fears data breaches. In addition to having to pay hefty penalties, organizations also lose their goodwill and reputation as a result of becoming a victim of data breaches.

The most prevalent causes for data breaches are:

  • Malicious insiders (thus, user management is required) 

  • Malicious outsiders (thus, security policies are required)

  • Carelessness by users in cloud storage, transfer, and processing (training is required for users)

  • Shadow IT hazards (SaaS sprawl needs to be kept in check)

  • Lost or stolen devices (endpoint management is required)

IT teams can implement policies that can prevent hackers from gaining access like:

  • Setting a strong password with multi authentication protocols in place for users to access cloud

  • Encrypt sensitive data

  • Identify suspicious SaaS apps that pose a danger to the company’s data

  • Educate employees to be wary of suspicious websites emails and links to prevent malware and phishing attacks

  • Having Privileged Access Management (PAM) in place to safeguard privileged accounts.

  • Having Zero Trust Model in place

Having these practices in place can significantly reduce the risks of cyber threats. I

4. Prevent Damages Caused by Malicious Insiders

Malicious insiders are former or current employees who are authorized to access the company's systems and data and can use that access to cause harm to your organization in the following ways:

IT sabotage Intentional use of IT to cause harm. Many times, tech-savvy employees are behind these kinds of attacks. Most of the time, these people act out of revenge because they had a bad experience at work, and they carry out their attacks while they are still working or shortly after being terminated from their position.

Data Theft: A data thief is someone who steals intellectual property or sensitive data from an organization for monetary gain or personal advantage. Employees who fall within this category can act independently or in collaboration with their coworkers. Additionally, data thieves can also steal trade secrets in order to provide a competitive advantage to a third party.

Insider Fraud: Illegal access or manipulation of an organization's data by an employee. It is typically committed for one's own gain or stealing personal data to commit identity theft or credit card fraud. People who commit such crimes are due to financial issues or greed.

To prevent malicious insiders from causing harm, you need to have policies in place like: 

  • Have a system in place that will prevent and log outgoing emails that include sensitive keywords or data patterns. 

  • Prevent the use of SaaS applications that have not been approved by IT.

  • Maintain regular backups that are only accessible to trustworthy employees; this will aid in data loss prevention.

  • The usage of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication by employees will prevent malicious insiders from gaining access to their colleague's id and using it to cause harm.

  • Revoke SaaS permissions of employees who leave your organization. Zluri excels in all the other market solutions for this use case. See how Zluri can help with deprovisioning

  • An office culture that will prevent people from harboring negative feelings.

5. Prevent Unintentional Data Leak and Data Deletion 

There are times when data gets leaked without malicious intent. This could happen due to the end-user being compromised by installing a SaaS tool unintentionally with the purpose of performing a task assigned to them. 

Sometimes these tools, which are not approved by IT, can have deep access to the company’s sensitive data. Sometimes the user can also be in a hurry to finish a task that they may forget to properly access the measures needed prior to taking action.

Having these policies in place can help:

  • System to identify risky SaaS apps, which will alert the user when an app tries to gain access to data it does not require for it to function.

  • Educate employees before they copy, delete or transmit files; they should take the time to open, read, and verify their content. Accidental leaks occur when people are in a hurry.

  • Have a provision in place when an employee wants to retain a confidential file for business purposes.

  • Educating users not to keep the company’s confidential files in their system (cloud is where all data should be).

  • Have visibility on shadow IT.

6. Revision of Access Levels from Time to Time

In addition to restricting employees from accessing specific types of data, IT teams should determine access levels, implement policies that restrict the usage of the company's data, and require employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement when they are hired.

Having the least access privilege policy will ensure that only the resources necessary for a user's work are granted, allowing restricted access to only those resources that are essential for the user- on the basis of their role, department, location, or time of the day.

Take into consideration how much access you are allowing to your cloud environment. This will include- a service or user should not be granted any more rights than are strictly necessary to complete a task. 

The privileges and permissions associated with a cloud account are often granted through the use of roles and permissions. The vast majority of cloud service providers offer a large number of predefined roles, which are composed of pre-packaged sets of permissions. 

Consider thoroughly investigating the rights and security policies associated with any desired preset role before assigning it to any user. You may discover that the predefined roles set by your SaaS vendor do not sit well with you. In that case, the IT team may want to strategize and reconsider the permissions different users need.

Permissions not set right can put you at risk of becoming a victim of a data breach.

7. Policies to Share the Kind of Data with People Outside Organization 

Policies to Share the Kind of Data with People Outside Organization

There are times when the employees may have to share your company's data and information with people outside of your organization to gain insights and help. These people could be an outside agency to whom the company has outsourced some of your office work, like consultants, or whom you may be taking expertise from, or even stakeholders. 

There may also be times when you have to meet with potential partners to discuss business ideas, and you may end up sharing your trade secret with them before signing an NDA. 

Sharing data with people who are outside of your organization can be risky. This is why you should have provisions in place that should restrict the users who have access to your sensitive data from using it to cause harm or for their own purposes.

Having these policies can help:

  • Make them sign an NDA before granting any kind of access

  • If they need access to the cloud, then make sure to set permissions carefully

  • Restrict yourself from sharing sensitive information in a way that can be leaked 

  • Have provisions in place so that their access can not pose a threat to your intellectual property

  • Monitor their activity on how they use your SaaS resources

  • Revoke permissions when no longer required

8. Management of Groups that are Created on SaaS Apps

One great thing about SaaS apps is that they allow users to create groups allowing users to collaborate on different projects they are a part of.

It is possible to assign unique project roles to specific groups. Various permission levels are available, ranging from least access (read-only access to limited data points) to super administration.

Additionally, SaaS groups are also critical for departmental segregation and allow them to access each other's information only when required.

Policies that restrict group memberships to only those employees who require them would help to reduce the likelihood of data leaks and security issues from occurring.

Effective group management policy should include discovering and removing abandoned, redundant and empty groups.

9. Maintenance and De-clutter of SaaS Licenses on a Timely Basis

The maintenance policy will allow you to keep your SaaS ecosystem organized and free of SaaS tools and licenses that are not required.

A good maintenance policy can help you eliminate apps and licenses that are rarely used. 

If you do not review the performance of SaaS apps on a regular basis, then you may hoard apps that will eat away your budget. 

Downsizing the number of licenses can help you cut unplanned costs, get maximum value from your SaaS resources and manage your spend.

An effective maintenance policy can help you with:

  • Remove overlapping apps, abandoned apps, and underutilized apps

  • Remove extra and unused licenses

  • Negotiate with high-priced vendors

  • Visibility on shadow IT

  • Track SaaS vendors' compliance

  • Plan your next renewals

  • Predict, and budget SaaS spend

If you are an organization that uses a considerable number of SaaS tools and still maintains this data on spreadsheets, then consider trying Zluri, which automates SaaS discovery and management of SaaS resources in a single dashboard.

10. Track SaaS Vendors' Security and Compliance Risks

Track SaaS Vendors Security and Compliance Risks

Being compliant with the laws and regulations of countries you serve in is crucial for business survival. Staying true to security measures and compliance can help in preventing and identifying policy infringements and prevent data breaches, thus saving you from heavy penalties and lawsuits.

Usually, organizations trust that their SaaS vendors have all the security measures in place and are compliant, but that is not always the case. You should only work with the vendors who have necessary security certificates in place and are fully compliant with the data privacy regulations of the countries you operate your business in.

Also, having a system in place that will alert you in case any employee subscribes to a tool without IT approval will reduce risks to a great extent. This system should also alert you of the reliability of the SaaS stack you already have, subscriptions you will take in the future, and whenever a suspicious activity takes place with the ongoing subscriptions. 

Zluri has the largest app library of over 225,000 apps in the world and real-time information on their security certifications and compliance status — essential to have better visibility and control on your SaaS subscriptions, so you stay protected and compliant always. Learn how Zluri can help you mitigate compliance risks

There is So Much More That Goes Behind Managing That One SaaS Subscription

There is so much more that goes behind managing even a few SaaS subscriptions, so you can only imagine the effort that will go into managing more than 100s of applications on a regular basis. Having the right tool can make the process effortless. 

Proper SaaS management has numerous benefits, and to accomplish this task efficiently, you may need to hire resources just for that if you still rely on spreadsheets. 

But a tool like Zluri can make this complex task smooth by automating SaaS discovery and management, bringing you complete visibility on the entire SaaS stack of your organization in a single screen. If the same process is done manually, it could take several weeks to months, depending on the number of SaaS tools used in your organization. You may not have accurate data in place to make strategic decisions and plan further ahead.

SaaS systems management shouldn't be so difficult; Zluri gives you the power to simplify this complicated yet essential task, ensuring every policy in the checklist gets a tick mark. Zluri helps you plan better SaaS spend and usage while keeping you compliant.

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