29th August, 2021
Employees play a key role in any IT strategy. Without taking the employees into account, no IT strategy can succeed. The same applies to SaaS management strategy as well.
IT leaders need to manage their app users to get the best value from their SaaS stack. Not being able to manage the users could lead to financial, security, and compliance risks for the company.
To optimize their SaaS stack, IT teams must know how many apps they have and how the employees use them.
It's the process of gathering insights on SaaS usage inside the company to get a better return on the SaaS stack.
To do this, the IT team needs to collect information on:
How many applications are there in the company
Which employees have access to which applications
What permissions do they have inside the applications
If they are actively using the apps
Whether they are satisfied with the apps provided
Whether they get access to new apps when required
If users sign up for new apps without approval
Whether proper user offboarding happens or not
Every IT team, at a bare minimum, wants to keep a record of which employees have access to which apps. Though for individual apps, this information is available in the admin account, there is no single dashboard where all the information is present.
Hence, usually, this record is maintained on spreadsheets. In short, this helps IT to check whether all the applications are provisioned and to keep an eye on the SaaS sprawl.
Now, let's see how this database is useful in detail.
Whenever a new employee joins or leaves an organization, it is necessary to add or remove their name from the directory. If you don't have a well-organized database, this process might become cumbersome.
Only when you know what all applications are given access to, you can revoke the same when an employee leaves. Unrevoked licenses can lead to severe threats, and no company would want their ex-employee to have company information after they left the company.
Similarly, when an employee is onboarded, they need to be given access to applications as soon as they join. Or else it might hinder their productivity.
If you don't manage users properly, you will waste time reaching out to employees multiple times for every new task.
You may want to check if employees have app licenses that they are not using, or you may want to check if new licenses are required.
If you are planning a budget for the next year, you will have no idea how many licenses are required for which apps.
Having a user accounts database will ease the whole process for you.
Not being able to manage app users can lead to data breaches, compliance issues, or might burn your budget via app redundancy.
If you don't have the list of apps and the number of users, it's difficult to know if you need to increase or decrease the number of licenses. It's also difficult to know if all the apps comply with the regulatory requirements.
When SaaS user management is unorganized, companies face a lot of challenges. So, your employee directory system must be in sync with each other.
Furthermore, there are a lot of chances for errors which can sometimes cause expensive losses for the company.
Let's see some other challenges due to poor SaaS user management.
Data-related risks during employee offboarding: If there are cracks in your existing SaaS user management, ex-employees can still have access to company-sensitive data. When the access isn't revoked or the process is broken, your employees can keep accessing the files, which might put your company at risk of a compliance and data breach.
Productivity issues while onboarding: When a new user is onboarded, it is necessary for the systems to be updated. They must be given access to all the tools they need to do their daily work. If you don't have accurate SaaS user data management, they need to wait for days or weeks to get access to all the required applications.
A typical SaaS user management directory should have these features to prevent any inefficiencies.
Role of an employee: What are the applications they have access to? Are they admin or contract owner or just a user?
License: Whether it's a paid or free license?
Renewal due: When is the license expiring?
Usage: Whether an application is used excessively or scarcely?
Though it's possible to manage this record in spreadsheets for small companies, the problem with spreadsheets is that as the company grows, they are difficult to manage.
If your company has less than 25 employees, you can probably manage your SaaS directory in a spreadsheet. But even that needs constant updating from your end.
Now imagine an organization with 500+ employees using thousands of applications. Even thinking about having a directory in a spreadsheet is mind-boggling. It is very time-consuming and prone to errors.
That is when you need a SaaS management platform. You can focus on other important aspects of your business if you have an automated system to store this information which will act as a system of record.
A SaaS management system will help you in the following ways:
1. Helpful in planning your budget. When you know the number of applications and the licenses you have, you can plan your budget easily. Also, when you know about the usage stats, you can deprovision the apps which are not in use or very scarcely used or are redundant. This way, you can save a lot of money which can be put to use for other crucial business plans.
2. Keep an eye on the tools employees are using. Since it's very easy to procure a SaaS app today, there are high chances that your employees have signed up for applications that are redundant or unsafe. If you have an eye on the whole SaaS landscape, you can find out the applications employees have access to and eliminate them.
3. Right-size the licenses. Say, for example, two different departments have separately signed up for an application; you can find the exact number of people who are using it and make it into a single subscription. This will reduce the amount being paid, as most of the applications have "Enterprise" plans which are priced comparatively lower than the other plans.
4. IT can control access to apps. There are certain applications that are used to store sensitive information. In that case, you can decide whom to give access to and whom not to. You can also control the privileges an employee has in an application.
5. Timely renewals/termination of SaaS apps. When there are timely alerts on renewals, there wouldn't be anything called surprise renewals. You can decide whether you need to renew a particular application or cancel it based on the usage stats.
How SaaS user management works: To know how SaaS user management works, you need to know the relationship between your employees and SaaS applications. Each time they are signing for a new application, they are bringing a security vulnerability to your company.
That's why you need a collaborative approach that brings all the important stakeholders to be a part of the SaaS management process. A streamlined SaaS user management process ensures that all the departments have access to their necessary apps and it is up to date.
A single system of record that has all the information regarding apps and licenses will simplify the complex shift of responsibility from an IT command center approach. Most of the SMPs or user management systems work based on user access control.
Initially, for authenticating and authorizing themselves, users were required to remember their credentials. So there was a need for a scalable solution. Then came identity providers that would store the user credentials so that the IT department could verify the users and allow access.
Next, a centralized user management system emerged, which completely automated the parts of this process. With a grouping mechanism, the process was even more simplified.
When the IT landscape started moving from on-prem software to cloud, a new concept called SaaS user management was introduced. This created a new service that resided in the cloud and connected users.
RBAC or Role-Based Access Controls: It works based on user permissions, i.e., allows access to data and performs an action based on their roles. This is the best method for handling multiple accounts with the same access levels as Facebook users, group admins, moderators, etc.
By updating SaaS permission for a particular role, you update them for all users having that role.
Now, let's discuss the best practices for managing SaaS users management.
It is not just enough to implement a SaaS management solution. You also need to have standard operating procedures to get the most value out of your systems.
Audit the SaaS tools you have. Find out what tools you have in your SaaS stack.
Track software renewals. Be alert on the SaaS applications that are nearing the renewal and take proactive decisions on whether to renew or terminate them.
Track Software Usage. Find how an application is used by your employees. SMPs are best for this job.
Look out for new software. Be informed about new solutions that could replace your existing ones with the same functionality but at lower costs.
Automate workflows. Use the necessary tools to automate your workflows and processes to save time.
Take expert help for SaaS procurement. Some service providers in the market, like Zluri, can save you money and the headache of negotiation. For example, Zluri's SaaS buying can save you up to 50% cost without any upfront cost.
Choose user-friendly. Select the most easy-to-use front-end design.
Zluri can help you track the applications present in your SaaS directory, maintain a healthy relationship with vendors and save money.
Zluri's discovery engine takes input from your SSO provider like Okta, spend management apps like Quickbooks & Xero, desktop and browser agents, and surfaces your SaaS landscape with 100% accuracy.
Zluri not only manages your spending but also tracks the applications in use, how much it costs, and within a week of signing up, it understands your SaaS ecosystem and starts giving you recommendations for cost-effective and better SaaS apps.
Understand the tools adopted by your employees and make more informed purchases in the future.
Zluri maintains a SaaS system of record by integrating with your core business system, after which it prepares to maintain your vendor life cycle with your predefined workflows.