Finding the Right SaaS Management Platform
The SaaS Management space has grown significantly over the past five years. Do you even need a SaaS Management Platform? And if you do, how do you pick the right one for your business? Read on to find out.
What is a SaaS Management Platform?
A SaaS Management Platform (SMP) is a software solution designed to help businesses manage their Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. SaaS applications are cloud-based software programs that are accessed over the internet and are typically sold on a subscription basis.
Also known as SaaS management software, SMPs provide a centralized platform for businesses to track application usage and spend, manage user access and permissions, monitor security and compliance, and automate administrative tasks. SMPs can also provide insights into how employees are using different SaaS applications. This can help businesses optimize their software stack and reduce unnecessary spending.
Though SMPs are typically used by IT teams, they also provide value to procurement, finance, and line of business leaders.
Why should I get a SaaS Management Platform?
The average organization has over 300 SaaS applications, many of which are owned and managed outside of IT. And these SaaS portfolios — and their associated spend — grow every year. Managing all of those subscriptions can be an extremely time consuming and manual process. Here’s what’s driving organizations to adopt SaaS management tools:
Increased use of SaaS applications
With the rise of remote work and cloud computing, businesses are increasingly relying on SaaS applications to run their operations. This can lead to challenges such as managing SaaS subscriptions, monitoring usage, and ensuring data compliance across hundreds of applications.
Shadow IT refers to software applications used by employees that are outside of IT’s purview. This can create security and compliance risks, as well as increase costs. An SMP can help businesses discover and manage shadow IT by providing visibility into all SaaS applications being used within the organization.
Compliance and security concerns
Compliance and security regulations are becoming more stringent, and businesses must ensure that their SaaS applications meet these standards. An SMP can help businesses monitor and enforce compliance and security policies across their SaaS applications.
SaaS sprawl refers to the proliferation of SaaS applications within an organization, which can lead to confusion and inefficiencies. An SMP can help businesses manage their SaaS applications more efficiently, including consolidating redundant applications and monitoring usage to ensure that licenses are being utilized effectively.
Businesses are under pressure to reduce costs and optimize spending. An SMP can help businesses save money by identifying unused licenses, negotiating better contracts with vendors, and providing insights into which applications are providing the most value.
What are the benefits of a SaaS Management Platform?
SaaS management software can provide your organization with a number of benefits, including hard and soft cost savings. Benefits you can expect of an SMP include:
Optimize your spending on SaaS applications by identifying unused licenses, consolidating applications, negotiating better contracts with vendors, and managing SaaS spend more effectively.
Enhanced security, compliance, and risk management
Monitor your SaaS applications for potential security risks and ensure SaaS compliance with data privacy regulations. Identify potential security and compliance risks associated with your SaaS applications and take appropriate action to mitigate those risks.
Increased efficiency and productivity
Automate administrative tasks such as onboarding and offboarding users, managing access permissions, and provisioning licenses, freeing up time to focus on more strategic initiatives. Gain insights into how employees are using SaaS applications, which can help you identify opportunities to streamline workflows and improve productivity.
Improved user experience
Provide a better user experience by making it easier for employees to find the tools they need and easily request access to licenses.
Centralized management and enhanced collaboration
Gain a single platform for managing all SaaS applications, simplifying administration, and reducing the potential for errors or oversights. This also helps to improve cross-functional collaboration between IT, finance, procurement, security, and line of business leaders.
Streamlined procurement processes
Automate procurement workflows for software intakes and renewals to speed up time to value, improve stakeholder alignment, and drive stronger vendor negotiations with data and insights.
What does a SaaS Management Platform look like?
SaaS Management Platform capability checklist
The features of SaaS management software can vary depending on the specific provider. Here are use cases a comprehensive SMP should help you solve.
SaaS governance use cases
- Discover SaaS, including shadow IT: Automatically discover all of the apps in use across your organization leveraging integrations with SSO, HR, finance, CASB, contract and expense systems.
- Measure SaaS usage, engagement, and spend: Get insight into actual SaaS usage, feature-level engagement, and spend by app and team.
- Centralize contract visibility and management: Ingest, validate, and standardize software contracts in a single location to track contract terms, app owners, license usage, and more.
- Manage app lifecycle governance processes: Track all app metadata in one place to provide rich reporting, analytics, segmentation to improve governance.
- Put apps behind SSO: Identify the SSO protocols each app supports, then move them behind SSO to improve security.
- Track SaaS compliance posture: See the different compliance certificates apps have, including SOC2, GDPR, FedRAMP, and more.
- Drive app adoption: Understand how teams are using specific features within apps to create targeted adoption initiatives.
SaaS rationalization use cases
- Identify and assess duplicate, low impact apps: View apps by category and compare users, usage, and spend.
- Consolidate SaaS portfolio: Develop a strategy around which apps to renew, rightsize, and retire.
- Automate license rightsizing: Create workflows to automatically reclaim unused licenses on a set cadence.
- Automate license requests: Provide employees with a single place to discover and request access to available apps.
- Identify unused SaaS licenses: Find unused licenses based on days of inactivity, employee departure, and more.
- Identify inefficient license tiering: Compare employee app feature usage with license type to discover where licenses tiers are inappropriately allocated.
SaaS procurement use cases
- Automate data-driven renewals: Create renewal workflows to tigger on set conditions that align stakeholders across the process with data and insights to make quicker decisions and drive stronger negotiations.
- Automate data-driven intake: Streamline the software intake process and leverage SaaS portfolio insights and vendor intelligence to efficiently purchase new apps.
- Assess and manage vendor risk: Centralize vendor intelligence to assess new vendors and monitor current ones.
8 steps for finding the right SaaS Management Platform
Choosing the right SMP for your business can depend on several factors, including your business needs, size, and budget. Here are some steps you can take to choose the right SaaS Management tool:
- Identify your business needs: Start by identifying your business needs, such as SaaS cost optimization, security and compliance management, or streamlined procurement. Make a list of the specific features and functionality you require from an SMP.
- Evaluate vendors: Research and evaluate different SaaS Management vendors using a vendor assessment to determine which ones offer the features and functionality you require. Consider factors such as vendor reputation, customer support, and pricing.
- Consider integration: Evaluate whether the SMP can integrate with your existing systems, such as your IT service management tools, HR systems, or procurement systems.
- Evaluate usability: Consider the user interface and usability of the SMP. Is it intuitive and easy to use? Can non-technical users manage the platform?
- Evaluate scalability: Consider whether the SMP can scale to meet the needs of your growing business.
- Evaluate security: Ensure that the SMP has robust security features, such as encryption, secure data storage, and access control.
- Consider pricing: Evaluate the pricing structure of the SMP, including any hidden costs such as implementation or support fees.
- Trial the SMP: Finally, try the SMP before committing to a purchase. Most vendors offer proof-of-concept environments or trials, which can help you evaluate the usability and functionality of the platform before making a decision.
By following these steps, you can choose the right SaaS Management tool for your business, one that meets your needs, budget, and provides the necessary functionality and support.
5 things to know when implementing a SaaS Management Platform
Implementing a SaaS Management tool can help your business optimize its SaaS spending, improve security and compliance, and streamline application management. But in order to quickly get value out of an SMP, you’ll need a smooth implementation. Here are some important things to consider as you implement SaaS Management software:
- Define clear objectives: Before implementing an SMP, it’s important to define clear objectives for the project. This will help ensure that everyone involved is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Identify the key metrics you want to measure and the outcomes you want to achieve.
- Assess your current infrastructure: To ensure a successful implementation, assess your current IT infrastructure and identify any potential challenges or roadblocks. This will help you understand what changes may be necessary to support the new platform and to plan for any necessary upgrades or integrations.
- Create a deployment plan: A deployment plan outlines the steps involved in implementing the SMP and ensures that everyone involved understands their roles and responsibilities. It should include timelines, milestones, and key deliverables. This plan should be reviewed regularly and adjusted as necessary.
- Train your team: An SMP is only effective if it’s being used properly. Provide comprehensive training for all users to ensure that they understand the platform’s capabilities and how to use it effectively. This will help you achieve a faster ROI and maximize the value of the investment.
- Monitor progress and adapt: After the SaaS Management Platform is deployed, monitor progress closely to identify areas where you can optimize and make adjustments. Collect and analyze data regularly to understand usage patterns, identify issues, and make informed decisions about how to optimize the platform. This will help ensure that you’re getting the most out of your investment over the long term.
What are some recent SaaS Management Platform trends?
The SaaS Management industry is rapidly evolving to meet the changing needs of businesses as they continue to adopt and expand their use of cloud-based applications.
Automation and AI-powered tools
With the growing complexity of SaaS application management, many businesses are finding it difficult to keep up with the administrative tasks required to manage their applications effectively. Automation and AI-powered tools can help to simplify these tasks and improve decision-making by providing insights into application usage and cost allocation. Additionally, these tools are being used to streamline processes associated with license management, such as license requests and reclaiming licenses.
Software procurement solutions
SaaS Management vendors are also growing their investment in procurement solutions. Today, software intake and renewal processes are spread across a variety of disparate systems — many that are difficult to use cross-functionally, lack the necessary data, and have expensive licenses — which makes aligning stakeholders across departments quite difficult. By automating these workflows and infusing them with data from the SaaS Management Platform, organizations can streamline software procurement and drive stronger negotiations.
Overall, the future of SaaS Management Platforms looks bright, with new features and capabilities emerging to help businesses manage their growing number of cloud-based applications. As you evaluate SaaS Management Platforms, ask about the product roadmap to understand how they are investing in the future.
Productiv is the only SaaS Intelligence™ platform for the modern enterprise. More than a SaaS management solution, Productiv aligns IT, procurement, finance, and business leaders with trusted data to optimize spend and drive operational excellence across SaaS portfolios.
This employee-centric, data-driven approach combines billions of employee app usage data-points with vendor contract and organizational data, enabling teams to easily come together to govern and rationalize SaaS portfolios while streamlining procurement.
Founded in 2018 and backed by Accel, IVP and Norwest Venture Partners, Productiv is on a mission to align IT and business leaders to unlock the most value out of their SaaS portfolio at scale.