A Look at the State of SaaS Management in 2020

Yesterday, in conjunction with the launch of Productiv Essentials, we released the results of a survey we conducted with our friends at Pulse on the State of SaaS Management. You can download a full copy of the report here, but we wanted to call out the most interesting findings in this post. 

 

The findings really drive home how important effective SaaS management is for enterprises today. According to the report, a whopping 97% of respondents don’t have complete visibility into how their applications are used by employees. 

Also, 88 percent of respondents believe that a central location for SaaS management would simplify internal processes, increase visibility, and provide teams with the opportunity to focus more on strategic initiatives. 

However, automation is key to this strategy, with 94 percent noting that managing SaaS applications with manual tools leads to out-of-date information and poor business decision making. 

The State of SaaS Management in 2020 was conducted by Pulse on behalf of Productiv. The study polled IT executives to better understand how centralizing SaaS application management can improve visibility into key tool analytics and their company’s bottom line. 

Get access to Productiv Essentials and learn more here.

 

Announcing Productiv Essentials, our Free SaaS Management Offering

I’m very excited to officially announce Productiv Essentials, our new free offering on the Productiv SaaS Management Platform.   As of today we’re opening up early access, and we will soon make it generally available to companies everywhere.

Why provide a free SaaS Management alternative?

In a few short years, Productiv has come to lead the SaaS Management category for those seeking a data-driven approach to understanding how employees are actually using applications. Companies like Zoom, Box, Okta, Robinhood, Uber and more all rely on Productiv. 

We’ve only begun to solve the SaaS Management problem for businesses at large. Our recent survey shows that organizations typically have 100 applications or more, yet 88% of executives admit they have low to no visibility on how those applications are being consumed. There’s still a massive amount of pain and frustration out there in managing a sprawling set of SaaS applications. 

The current state for millions of businesses is a mix of poorly maintained spreadsheets, some employee surveys, and a whole lot of good intentions. Many organizations have to dedicate a full-time employee to the task of chasing down SaaS owners, licenses, and contracts! Is this really as good as it gets?

We don’t think so.  Many organizations know they need a better way to manage their SaaS application spend, but haven’t yet figured out how to create a SaaS management layer. Teams are mostly reactive to SaaS renewals, and have limited insight into employees’ usage of applications. Very few organizations realize yet that this isn’t even just about license management – this is about building the central system of record where your C-suite and team leaders can collaborate on the application strategy of your organization.

Examining the scope and scale of this problem, we asked, “What if we gave every IT leader the foundation to start their SaaS Management journey now? How would that help companies more effectively using SaaS?”  

That’s why we’re announcing Productiv Essentials, our free SaaS Management offering.

A first look at Productiv Essentials

Productiv Essentials gives everyone a chance to build a strong SaaS Management foundation for their business.

We have detailed out the packages on our pricing page, but let’s talk about the philosophy behind what we’re doing. Our goal was to create a free product that would provide significant value to users out of the box. You can set it up yourself, easily find what you need, and get value quickly. 

So to better understand what we are launching, let’s start by talking about what Productiv Essentials is NOT:

  • It’s not a time-bound trial. You can use it for as long as you like.
  • It’s not limited by users. You can invite your entire IT team, Finance, Procurement, and C-Suite into the product to collaborate – just like our paid customers do.
  • It’s not limited by the number of applications. We will show you all of your applications in one place.

With 360-degree visibility of your application portfolio and the ability to track renewal data, Productiv Essentials will eliminate your need for a SaaS Management Spreadsheet.

So what is Productiv Essentials? Here it is, in three pieces:

  1. The core of SaaS management is around visibility. Getting to a 360-degree view of your applications is the critical first step to strategic SaaS management. To give you that core capability, key visibility features are entirely free. That includes connecting your Single Sign-On system to see your managed applications, as well as connecting to common expense systems to see shadow IT and expensed applications.
  2. Everyone needs renewal management. Productiv Essentials allows you to track critical renewal data so that you can proactively manage and prioritize your renewals, instead of chasing down vendors and contracts at the last minute.
  3. Deep insights on engagement. Customers like Amplitude, PagerDuty, Blue Diamond Growers, and many others chose Productiv because they know the best way to manage SaaS applications is to have a complete understanding of how those applications are being consumed by individuals and teams. Productiv Essentials also provides a taste of this capability, with the ability to report engagement analytics for the videoconferencing system of your choice (Zoom, Google Meet, and WebEx are a few of these options).

Depending on where you are in your SaaS management journey, the capabilities of Productiv Essentials may be all that you need right now. If that’s the case, that’s great. We are happy to provide this to your company at no cost.

Getting started with Productiv Essentials

We’ve had a great time working with our initial users on Essentials, and now we’re ready to open it up to even more companies. Want to join in?  Come sign up for early access!  We’re actively welcoming new users to the platform every day. Please head on over and add yourself to the list. Once you sign up, we’d also love for you to share this among your community and colleagues, and will reward you by moving you up in line. We will work to get everyone into the product as quickly as possible!

Once you’re in, you’ll find that our engineering and design teams have done an amazing job. It’s going to be just a matter of a few steps for you to finally say goodbye to your SaaS Management spreadsheet and get on with your life!

How to Reduce Costs & Boost Productivity with Productiv

Software, software, software — much like the location mantra chanted by real estate agents, software is arguably a business’s most important weapon. SaaS management software ensures your software as a service applications simplify daily operations in a cost-effective way, improve employee productivity, and give you a competitive advantage.

But is there such a thing as having too many software as a service apps?

The simple answer is yes — when those tools overlap, are underutilized, or inhibit the very productivity they were chosen to create.

Where Software-as-a-Service Falls Short

The Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model has taken over – and understandably so. Instead of buying single edition software products outright, companies have more flexibility when it comes to licensing for all their users and maintaining the most up-to-date version of their software.

But despite these advantages, the SaaS model has also complicated the work of IT pros, cost controllers, and business leaders. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for companies to keep track of all their subscriptions and tools, not to mention the associated costs and how teams are using the tools they’ve been given.

Data points to growth as a leading cause of new apps and tools being added. As a company grows, the number of SaaS tools they use increases linearly.

But this could also be a signal of redundancy and inefficiency. Instead of adding seats to tools you already have, companies often wind up with multiple software tools that serve the same purpose.

This problem may be further compounded by the effects of COVID-19. As more companies allow employees to work from home, investing in SaaS tools has never been more urgent.

Even before the sudden and widespread shift to remote work, companies had no easy way of knowing when one or more of these tools aren’t being used by their employees, or exactly how many software tools they’re paying for that could be cut from their expenses without sacrificing productivity or results.

Calculating the True Cost of SaaS

The complexities of too many SaaS subscriptions are multifold, which makes it difficult to calculate the true cost of your software investment. It’s not just a matter of ticket price, but also the overall value you receive and the potential losses related to productivity and incorrect license size.

Loss in Productivity

For starters, most SaaS products are designed to fill one specific need for a specific user role. You might have one tool for accounting, one for email marketing, one for collaboration, etc. This is still the case when you have holistic business management systems like ERP and CRM, as these systems help you maximize your existing software applications.

However, switching between too many apps can take a toll on productivity. A 2017 report, The False Promise of the App Economy, shows that it takes employees an average of 16 minutes to refocus on a task each time they’re interrupted or need to “switch gears.” App overload is a cause of this, and limiting your tech stack to the most important tools can buy back some of your employee productivity.

Companies should also consider that some users may be doing the same task in different places. For example, when sharing files with others, Dropbox, Google Drive, and the email inbox can all fulfill the purpose. A lack of systematization can create unnecessary friction, not to mention adding guesswork to the process. Users lose precious minutes and focus when trying to track down items that would be more easily found in one standard place.

Incorrect License Size

Many SaaS products charge you by the user, similarly to licensing rights with traditional software products. If you’re a business that maintains a relatively stable workforce, with roughly the same number of employees in the same roles at any given time, then per-user subscriptions aren’t much of an issue.

But for businesses with workforce volatility, the unnecessary costs can add up quickly. As employees leave or change roles, their SaaS licensing needs change, too. When companies eliminate positions, they don’t always think to also eliminate the associated ongoing costs of those positions, specifically in terms of software subscriptions.

Something else to consider is the license itself may change as the provider adds new features or services. Over time, a license may no longer fill your needs like it used to.

Lack of Intended Value

Last but not least, companies must also consider whether the software products they’ve chosen to invest in are fulfilling their intended purposes. Software is only as effective as the people using it, and if some tools are being underutilized, companies could better allocate those funds into something more effective.

These challenges make it difficult for companies to calculate the true costs of their software investments. It’s not just a matter of coming up with a bottom line dollar figure, but rather being able to determine with confidence that these expenditures are worth the investment in terms of adoption, productivity, and results.

Best SaaS Management Software: Advantages Across the Enterprise

Manually managing SaaS applications can easily become a full-time job among companies with 200+ employees. It’s not just a matter of knowing which services you’ve invested in, but also the number of users per tool and whether those users are actively using those tools for the right purposes.

In response, many organizations are turning to SaaS management tools, like Productiv, to take a proactive approach to software subscriptions.

Here’s a closer look at how Productiv is upping the ante for SaaS across the enterprise:

Manage SaaS Sprawl

Before you can decide whether you have too many SaaS products or determine their usefulness, you first need to understand what products you have. Most organizations have no simplified system for tracking their SaaS subscription costs, the number of licenses or users, or renewal periods. And without an easy management system, businesses are forced into the costly, time-consuming, and potentially error-filled methods of manual tracking.

Instead of relying on spreadsheets and Word docs, Productiv takes a data-driven approach to SaaS management.

It reviews all of your SaaS subscriptions, renewal dates, and spend, as well as engagement rates that look beyond login data alone. What’s more, it can send you alerts when licenses are running low so you can make adjustments in your budget.

As a visual platform, Productiv SaaS management software paints a realistic picture of your SaaS portfolio that includes financial data and user engagement in a single snapshot. And because its insights are based solely on your company’s unique data, it gives you the clearest picture as to how tools are being used and the most used features of each tool so you can make improved decisions moving forward.

Reduce SaaS Costs

A recent Business @ Work report from Okta found that companies deploy 163 apps on average, an increase of 68% over the past four years. For 9% of larger organizations, that number jumps to over 200.

Today’s fragmented work environment often creates multiple billing owners for SaaS products. Billing owners are the people responsible for purchasing the software tools and managing the subscriptions over time. But as billing owners change roles or leave the company altogether, they often fail to pass on their billing owner role to someone else. As business needs change, the company may continue to be billed for software products they no longer need or aren’t using.

There’s also the potential for redundancy when you have multiple billing owners. When different teams are using different but similar software tools, that overlap in functionality could be costing you more than it should.

Productiv takes a comprehensive approach to SaaS management software and licenses so you can right-size your software tools. Companies can identify software usage at the user level and get data-driven predictions on renewals and how many licenses to purchase based on usage histories.

You can also get a bird’s eye view into software redundancies and specific use cases that will allow you to cut costs without giving up valuable software tools. This is especially important when comparing two or more tools that are seemingly redundant but may provide different use cases.

Drive SaaS Value

When you’re paying good money for a software tool, you want to know with confidence how much value it’s delivering to your organization. This can be easier said than done, however, as value can be measured in different ways.

For example, if your goal is to increase productivity, then condensing your SaaS stack to eliminate redundancies can be a great way to do this. It allows employees to switch between fewer apps and stay focused.

Value can also take the form of proper budgeting. With Productiv SaaS management software, you can forecast whether you need to upgrade or downgrade your licensing prior to renewal.

Productiv also makes it easy to view app adoption and collaboration patterns across the enterprise. Knowing how apps are being used can help companies identify adoption gaps, user training needs, and information silos that need to be eliminated.

Plan SaaS Renewals

SaaS renewals have a lot of moving parts, from costs and licenses to specific app usage. Productiv makes it easy to manage all of the above to ensure the greatest value from your software tools.

Set up alerts for every SaaS renewal so that payments never catch you off guard. Productiv’s analytics can also give you data-driven insight into whether each tool is still meeting your current needs based on adoption and usage.

Last but not least, Productiv SaaS management software compares apps and features that overlap to help teams eliminate costly redundancies. This allows businesses to downsize their app stack by standardizing specific tools rather than invest in multiple apps that do the same job.

Make SaaS Tools Work for You with Productiv

The best SaaS management software is as multifaceted as your SaaS stack: it goes beyond planning renewals and licensing and dives deeper into usage patterns and adoption rates. This need only becomes more important as you grow and develop the need to include new tools in your software suite.

Request a demo and see how Productiv helps you reduce SaaS management costs and increase productivity in a way you can measure.

SaaS Subscription Management: How to Easily Track SaaS Application Renewals

When you review your SaaS subscriptions, do you ask yourself how many SaaS apps you have? Or, do you ask yourself whether those apps are being used to their fullest? To better understand your SaaS subscriptions, you need to analyze which apps you have, how these apps are being used, and whether they allow for collaboration and greater productivity.

In this post, we’ll explore what SaaS subscription management is, why it matters, and how you can effectively track SaaS application renewals.

What is SaaS Subscription Management? 

SaaS subscription management is about overseeing all of the subscriptions to SaaS applications and platforms that your company has.

The goals of SaaS subscription management are:

  • To track and manage SaaS subscriptions
  • To ensure there aren’t overlapping SaaS subscriptions (for example, Zoom and Webex)
  • To save money – you don’t want to pay for orphaned subscriptions no one is using
  • To derive value from your SaaS subscriptions – you want these apps to make your workforce more productive and collaborative

Why Does SaaS Subscription Management Matter?

Why does it matter if you manage your SaaS subscriptions? There are four reasons:

  • Cost savings
  • Greater productivity
  • Greater collaboration
  • Greater ROI on your apps and platforms

Cost Savings

SaaS app usage is growing rapidly. Deloitte’s 2020 Global Technology Leadership Study shows that 94% of respondents are using SaaS applications.

Yet, just because more people say they’re using SaaS applications doesn’t mean those applications are actually being used. Seventy-one percent of organizations have an orphaned SaaS subscription (meaning there’s no clear owner), and those apps can cost as much as $8,520 annually per subscription.

SaaS subscription management lets you determine which apps are used the most, which apps are least-used, and which apps are duplicate so that you can save money.

Greater Productivity

When we think of things at the office that kill productivity, the first thing that comes to mind is meetings. However, in our March 2019 report, less than a third of employees said that too many meetings had a negative impact on productivity. What ranked higher was a lack of access to the right apps – 39% of employees said their productivity was low because they weren’t able to use the apps they needed.

SaaS subscription management improves employee productivity because it enables managers to make the right decisions about which SaaS subscriptions to keep, which to add, and which they can eliminate. They can invest in SaaS apps and platforms that make employees more productive, rather than continuing to pay for those that hold them back.

Greater Collaboration

Collaboration drives productivity – when you can’t work together effectively with colleagues, you can’t complete assignments or reach goals. Yet, as we mentioned in the previous paragraph, many employees don’t have access to the right apps and platforms to drive collaboration. As a result, they’re not accomplishing as much as they could.

That’s where SaaS subscription management comes in. SaaS subscription management helps you figure out which of your apps and platforms facilitate collaboration, and which don’t. With that knowledge, you can invest in the right apps that drive business success.

Greater ROI on Your Apps and Platforms

Another benefit of SaaS subscription management is that you’ll see greater ROI on your apps and platforms.

Why is that?

The right SaaS subscription management solution gives you insight into how many users an app has, as well as how they’re using it (for example, are they making use of all of the features?) Moreover, does it help them to stay productive, and can it help them collaborate? The data your SaaS platform subscription management solution provides enables you to make the right decision about SaaS applications, so you can see higher ROI.

How the Right SaaS Subscription Management Solution Makes It Easy to Track Renewals

The right SaaS platform subscription management solution makes it easy to track renewals in three ways:

  • Use a renewal calendar
  • Centralize all of your subscription data in one place
  • Understand SaaS app and platform usage at a granular level

Use a Renewal Calendar

Do you know when your next SaaS subscription renewal is coming up? How long will it take you to prepare all of the information you need to make an educated decision about this app or platform?

A built-in calendar in your SaaS subscription management solution allows you to keep track of when renewals are coming due, so you don’t get stuck with an expensive auto-renewal for an app or platform that no longer serves your needs.

Centralize All of Your Subscription Data

If someone were to ask you how many Zoom subscriptions you had, would you be able to answer? Let’s say you have an answer – is it being stored in a spreadsheet somewhere (and is that spreadsheet even accurate)?

Market-leading SaaS subscription management solutions centralize all of your subscription data in one place so that it’s in an easy-to-read, easy-to-consume place. You won’t waste time trying to find the information you need (especially not the details on auto-renewals and early termination clauses).

Understand SaaS App and Platform Usage at a Granular Level 

Here’s another question for you: do you know how employees are using SaaS apps and platforms? For example, are your team members using every single feature within the G-suite, or do they only really use Docs and Slideshows?

The best SaaS subscription management solutions enable you to gather information about how your employees are using SaaS apps and platforms, including which features they’re using, by teams, and by location. With that data in hand, you can confidently go into meetings with your vendors so you can get the licenses you need, rather than what they want to sell you.

As SaaS subscriptions multiply, SaaS subscription management has become imperative within the enterprise. Request a demo today to learn more about how you can drive greater value from your SaaS subscriptions.


Request a Productiv Demo Today!

SaaS License Optimization and Rightsizing Guide

Building an Enterprise Software Usage Report in the Age of SaaS

“Just get me a software usage report”

It’s a phrase that most IT professionals dread – and that was before the average enterprise had hundreds of SaaS applications. For the person asking, the request is simple: She just wants to know how much software is being used, and probably wants the usage compared to how much software is licensed. Simple, right?

Not so fast. It turns out that software usage reports are incredibly hard to create — even more so if you expect to meaningfully track application usage. But they don’t have to be! This post will walk through modern software usage reporting with a focus on SaaS. More importantly, this guide will help you understand:

  • Why might someone want a usage report? What are the key use cases for it?
  • What are the common problems for saas usage tracking?
  • How does one monitor usage, including usage monitoring software options?

Let’s dig in.

 

What is software usage reporting? How does it apply to SaaS?

First of all, let’s clarify what a software usage report actually is. There are three ways to think of application usage tracking, depending on who you are. Here’s a quick summary of the most common patterns:

  • Product managers look at software usage analytics to understand the adoption of their application by individuals who are likely outside your company. They may possibly be internal users if you are building a custom application for internal workflow or similar processes.
  • Developers and DevOps may look at usage analytics combined with application performance to understand areas of stress within their application or areas for performance improvement.
  • CIOs, IT administrators, and Procurement look at SaaS and software usage reports (or the related usage monitoring software) to understand the broad portfolio of applications used across the employee base, and how well those applications are being adopted. This can include license usage and cost, but ideally includes deeper analysis of what employees are actually doing with those applications.

So, while Product Managers and Developers are typically looking for depth in a single application (or the specific areas of code that they’ve personally built), CIOs need breadth as well as depth across a large number of applications which they most likely didn’t build. In fact, in the case of software as a service, they may not even run those applications themselves.

Now we have more context around usage reporting, depending on who’s asking. And while there are many resources for developers and product managers to track what they need to do their jobs, it’s less true for IT professionals. So let’s go into more detail about the CIO and IT use case around software usage reporting.

 

Use Cases for Software Usage Reporting

IT usually has more than one purpose for tracking SaaS application usage. So, when considering a reporting project like this, it’s helpful to understand exactly why someone needs this data. There are a half dozen common reasons for usage tracking:

  1. License Management – Can we report on how many licenses per application are being consumed? For SaaS applications, can we report per tier (basic/advanced/enterprise etc)?
  2. Auditing – Can we report for audit and compliance purposes on who is using particular applications, and what corporate information is flowing into particular applications?
  3. Software Adoption – We’re paying for many applications. Can we track application usage to see if these investments are being adopted? And specifically, can we track if key features within those applications are actually being used?
  4. Renewal process – We’re coming up on a renewal for a particular application. How are we doing with it? Is it being used? Are employees happy with it? Are we using the product at the right packaging tiers? Are there alternatives we should be considering?
  5. Mergers and acquisitions – We just acquired another company. What does their application portfolio look like? What applications have been adopted significantly? Where do we have overlap? What investments should we double down on, and which should be sunset?
  6. Future software investments – Are users adopting the applications we have invested in, or are similar applications appearing as shadow IT in our portfolio? For applications that are being adopted, do our usage reports show where we should be proactively increasing the available functionality of those products?

In an ideal world, any reporting on SaaS application usage can answer all of these questions at once, but this context is helpful for anyone doing the analysis so that she can provide the appropriate depth of information.

Now, in a data reporting exercise, asking the right questions is only about a third of the challenge. How you capture usage information, normalize it, and report back is a real mountain to climb. Let’s talk through some of the common software usage reporting challenges that IT faces.

Common problems for enterprise SaaS usage reporting:

  1. Knowing what software to report on. In the age of user-driven acquisition of applications, it’s actually pretty hard to know what software is being used. Sure, you’re likely to know that your company has a company-wide contract with Salesforce or Microsoft, but what about the viral adoption of Slack within Marketing, or the fact that Sales has standardized on Zoom for customer communications? Some of these dynamics will be clear to IT, others are waiting to be discovered. 
  2. Getting feature-level software and SaaS usage reporting. Even within a known application like Salesforce, how can you accurately get a picture of what people are actually using within the application? That is, are the features they are using appropriate for the tier of license you’ve given them? And how often do they use those features? What if you have multiple instances of the application for different business units or geographies? Learn more from our blog post on measuring salesforce ROI.
  3. Real-time data reporting on an individual’s usage. While executives most frequently think of reporting on an application’s usage, they are actually asking about the aggregate usage of many individuals. To the data gatherer, this is a really important distinction: if the approach to SaaS application monitoring starts at the user level, most questions around feature usage, license usage, audit and compliance, and future investments can be effectively derived from the information at hand. If, however, the starting point is the application or the license, then application tracking is much more limited in its scope and impact.

 

How to monitor software usage: three different options

  1. Surveys. This is the most low-tech option available to you. The pros for using surveys as the basis for your software usage report are:
    • It’s low cost.
    • You can run them when you like, across a specific set of applications
    • You can customize your questions per application

There are however, a number of cons which might make surveys far less effective than software or SaaS usage monitoring applications:

    • It’s high effort on the part of the administrator
    • Results can vary depending on response rates and bias based on who responds. For example, only the people who love an application might fill out a survey, even if they are the minority.
    • Survey respondents will often tell you what they feel or what they intend, but it’s harder for them to share what they have actually done with an application.
    • They are point-in-time, not continuous data collection
    • How many surveys can your employees handle before they go dark on you?
    • Significant post-survey data analysis efforts on the administrative side, including correlating data with contractual and license information.

2. Application administration dashboards. Individual applications may provide some amount of usage reporting within their product. For example, here is an application usage report from Microsoft Office 365:

At first glance, it seems like a great high level view of a company’s use of Microsoft products.

The pros of a dashboard like this:

  • It is included with your purchase of the application
  • Typically no effort to set up

The cons of this approach:

  • This data is primarily accessible to the administrator of the application, making it more challenging for others in the organization to access it
  • It’s hard to normalize this data across applications – different vendors will report on different statistics according to what they feel like they want to share with their customers
  • If you have more than a handful of applications, using each one can be a significant burden to gather the necessary usage tracking data
  • Application vendors’ own software usage monitoring rarely correlates this information with licensing information to optimize usage of the application

3. SaaS Management Platforms. Usage monitoring software has now evolved to address the challenge of application tracking in a world where “your” apps are really vendors running their software for you in disparate locations across the globe. These tools are called SaaS Management Platforms, and are a third approach to how you can monitor software usage.

SaaS Management Platforms connect directly to SaaS applications you use, as well as through layers like cloud identity management, in order to provide you a complete view of your application portfolio.

The pros of this approach:

  • See all of your contracted applications, as well as discover shadow IT that users are adopting
  • Some SaaS management tools provide normalized, deep feature-level insight on an application by application basis, essentially replacing the need of dozens of vendor-specific dashboards or employee surveys
  • Optimize renewals by combining the usage data with contractual data
  • Minimize ongoing efforts by implementing workflows to provision and deprovision licenses automatically
  • See security and compliance details for each application, across each user and every team
  • Easily give access to all the data to IT, Procurement, Security, Finance, and business leaders

The cons of this approach:

  • You will need to administer another piece of monitoring software
  • There will be a one-time setup effort to get up and running
  • Depending on the platform you choose, you may have to pay for the monitoring software

 

Conclusion: Many ways to build a software usage report

Tracking application usage is important, but the effort that you put into the challenge should be driven by the questions you are trying to answer, the breadth of the applications you’re trying to answer them for, and the frequency at which you need to answer them. 

Over time most organizations need to automate and centralize their application usage tracking, so SaaS Management Platforms like Productiv will likely make sense to drive real-time collaboration, better software utilization tracking, automation, and ultimately right-sized application investment. In the short term, however, you might be able to squeeze by with another method if you have limited time and limited needs for the data at hand.

Announcing User and Team Insights in Productiv

Today we’re announcing some of the deepest data available in any SaaS Management Platform: Insights down to the individual user as well as teams in your organization. From the beginning we’ve held the belief that SaaS Management is so much more than just knowing your license count: it’s about unlocking productivity for every one of your employees. But how can you do that if you don’t have insight on each of them? 

Even if an IT administrator is using a typical SaaS Management tool, it would be difficult to derive more detailed information than at an application level. But what if your goal is to partner with Sales for example, and help them make sure they are getting the most out of their applications? What if you want to see how you can help Engineering by offloading vendor management from them? And what if you wanted to see individuals across the organization that are adopting a key application at a lower rate than everyone else, so you can reach out to help?

In order to truly unlock the potential hidden in each application, for each employee, you need the visibility to understand and measure what they are using and how it impacts those around them. That’s what our team and user insights are all about. Once you have these insights supporting you, solving any issue “beyond the app” where you need to dig down into team or individual data becomes much more manageable. 

Finally, as we’ll talk about near the end, this type of data breakdown is going to help us build many more features in the weeks and months ahead. In other words, we’re just getting started. Enough about that, let’s show you what we’ve just released.

Team Insights

As we’ve become the default SaaS Management tool for many organizations, the questions our users ask have become deeper and more complex. One of the most relevant is, “OK you’ve shown me all the apps for my company, but how does that relate to the engineering department? Marketing? Sales?” 

The value of this data is clear, and high: By understanding how a team, a function, or a business unit is using apps, you can understand what’s working and being adopted, and what’s not. That allows you to decide:

  • Where can I run adoption programs to better drive productivity?
  • What applications should we consider deprovisioning or cancelling?
  • If we know a particular team is doing very well, what can we learn from their application usage to bring knowledge to others in the organization?

This where team insights come into play.

With team insights, you can get a complete understanding of how your applications relate to teams in your organization. A team is loosely defined as any segment of people that you naturally group together. We pull this information from your HR system (for example, Workday), and keep it up to date. If you don’t use a system such as this, you can also upload a CSV with the relevant structured information and we’re good to go! Let’s take a look at a sample organization. 

We’ll start with their breakout by team, and see how many applications they are running:

 

We see a powerful visual that instantly relates team size to the number of applications they are using. In this case, we see Engineering (our largest team, with over 2K employees), uses 130 applications.

By clicking on the engineering team, we now get to the good stuff. We see a breakdown of the team size, apps, as well as their provisioned spend versus the last 12 months.

Now, at a glance, we actually see all the applications we’ve provisioned for engineering, in addition to how many of those users are active within the app. 

 

You can further segment this information by location, or even create custom segments to analyze your employee data in a way that better suits you. Flexibility is key – if you want to see spend by Level III Distinguished Engineers located in Phoenix, we want to make that happen.

This allows you to get the specific view you need to support your team. Whether it’s making sure part of a group is well supported, or providing detailed expense information back to FP&A, Productiv makes it easy to get beyond thinking of an “app” and into constructs that actually represent your business, like a team.

If you’re following the screenshots closely, you might have noticed that spend in the last 12 months for the engineering team far exceeds provisioned spend. Let’s find out what that’s about.

Just scrolling down the page a little further, we can actually see all the line-item spend for engineering that wasn’t contracted and paid for by IT. By processing your expense system data, we can automatically pull out SaaS spend by individual as they are requesting reimbursement, and then aggregate that into a view of the team spend as a whole.

Here we have, among other expenses, over a million dollars in cloud computing spend being expensed. That’s a lot of frequent flyer points on someone’s credit card! More importantly, it feels like there is a good chance that IT could negotiate a much better deal, while also removing some overhead for engineering. Opportunity calls!

User Insights

OK, so now we’ve seen something you’ve likely never seen before: real-time data on activity and spend per application for a given team in your company, even split out to a location or other special segment. What could be better?

Well, probably nothing. But let’s look at something even deeper: some of those same insights down to the individual user.

Here is a small slice of our 2300+ engineering users, and we can see by identifier (email, in our sample environment) apps and their spend. Very powerful, but what happens when you click on a user ID? You probably know the answer, but let’s look at it just to confirm:

Now we see this individual user’s applications, engagement per application, the type of license she has, and the spend that has been provisioned for her against that application. If we need to help this person in some way, we have the deep data we need to quickly assess the challenge and isolate the most important applications or spend items that we should focus on.

That’s proactive IT. But do you want to get more proactive?

With this level of information, you can also be a consultative partner to managers, teams, and the business at large.  For example, if you know there is a set of high performers in the organization, what does their application stack look like? Where are they most engaged? You could flip this conversation around and look for those who aren’t high performers, and understand if they are stuck in tools where you can help through training or even replacement of the tools.

Users and Teams: Pervasive concepts in Productiv

It’s important to note that the concepts of Users and Teams are not isolated to a particular section of Productiv. They are fundamental concepts that are expressed continuously through the application.

Do you want to break down a particular application’s engagement by teams? We absolutely provide that. Do you want to compare application overlap within a team? Yes, it’s there.

And of course, we plan to continue to leverage this capability as we bring new datasets, engagement analyzers, and use cases into the product. This will allow you to become more data-driven, more strategic, and more proactive as you help your organization unlock the productivity hidden within your applications.

Productiv Insights: SaaS Management at Apttus

Apttus, an eCommerce optimization tool, was facing an after the fact SaaS renewal. Two weeks post the initial renewal date, their IT team received an invoice without time to prepare. “When we figured out we had to do this renewal, we had no insights into data, we had no insights into usage and we didn’t understand the license consumption,” explained Praniti Lakhwara, CIO at Apttus. The IT team had been relying on Excel spreadsheets to track SaaS usage and renewals – a manual, cumbersome process that didn’t allow for adequate planning. When their SaaS renewal arose, the team was without the data they needed to make an informed decision.

Choosing Productiv for rich engagement insights and data

As Apttus recognized the challenges they were juggling, they set out to do an evaluation on potential solutions and quickly landed on Productiv. Its in-depth engagement analytics were a major incentive to adopt the solution. “Having those out of the box connectors helped me to quickly get on board and get the real time data on our engagement,” said Chetna Mahajan, VP of Business Systems. Immediately, the team had an end to end view of their complete SaaS portfolio, allowing them to understand which contracts were in place and when renewals were up.

 SaaS management leads to reorganizing IT priorities and achieving cost savings

These days, Apttus considers Productiv a critical part of the organization’s IT priorities. Spreadsheets are no more, and access control, offboarding, provisioning and deprovisioning have become a breeze.

In fact, they recently evaluated an upcoming renewal for a 6-figure sales productivity tool contract. Using Productiv, Apttus was able to look at usage in detail and gather the data necessary for making a strategic renewal decision in seconds. “It was all in the dashboard. We were able to really, truly have a much more meaningful conversation with our vendor,” Lakhwara concluded. As a result, they were able to save 30% on their renewal.

“Productiv is key to realizing my priorities and my organization’s priorities from an IT perspective. Whether it’s our employee experience which matters a lot, being secure and compliant, and then really raising the bar of operational excellence and being able to financially prove it.” 

Praniti Lakhwara, CIO, Apttus

Announcing the Productiv SaaS Renewal Calendar

The Proof is in Productiv

During my career, I have seen the evolution of the SaaS business model. SaaS made it easy to adopt, by pricing it low and entering an enterprise through Shadow IT. Eventually, morphing into a fully managed Service for the Enterprise. At that stage the burden is on the CIO and their team to clearly articulate the value of the Service. Oftentimes the burden of this proof was unbearable because of the explosion of multiple SaaS services, making it much more difficult to get a clear value proposition of a particular service. This led to common exchanges like the one below:

“Tell me how my company is using your software,” was a phrase I heard early and often during my time working in various SaaS companies in the Bay Area.

“Well, I know that your legal team is using us to help work on their contracts.” I would posit. This was often met with head shaking.

“I know legal is using it. But can you tell me how all the other users that I’m paying for are, because I don’t believe we’re using it all that much.” I wish I could say this exchange was unique, but it was something that happened all too often.

When I was introduced to Productiv, there was an immediate eureka moment. Productiv makes the process of discovering the value of a service and enumerates it to the organization. Helping reinforce buying decisions, enablement, or a call to action for change.

Data is at the heart of everything we do at Productiv. We use our data analytics to help our customers drive strategic decisions. In my first 30 days, we’ve been able to use active engagement usage data–as opposed just using login data–to drive a number of initiatives for our customers. I’ve seen them save upwards of $100K in one renewal by right-sizing their deployments! I’ve also seen customers use our engagement data to run enablement campaigns on Best of Breed tools or help identify Shadow IT.

During these times of COVID, it’s especially reaffirming to see how our message is resonating with marquee customers like Zoom, Uber, Fox, and Okta (just to name a few.) But it’s not just about messaging, as one of our Core Values states, it’s about Delivering Results.