Celebrating our first year being Productiv

Today marks one year since Productiv launched at Okta’s Oktane19 conference in San Francisco. With so much happening in such a short amount of time, it’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year!

Productiv teammates at Oktane19 in San Francisco

We’ve been fortunate to celebrate many milestones at Productiv since our launch. Besides a reason to celebrate, each of these milestones validate our mission to help enterprises drive ROI from their SaaS investments and strengthen IT’s partnership with the C-suite to deliver results on business goals.

In recognition of our first anniversary, here’s a quick recap of these milestones from a company, product, and team perspective, as well as my own thoughts on these milestones and what they mean for Productiv:

Our Company

  • Partnering with Modern CIOs and IT leaders at innovative enterprises like Fox, Uber, Equinix, Apttus, Databricks, HashiCorp, and more to drive ROI and app adoption to deliver against business goals;
  • Fueling our phenomenal growth by partnering with top-tier investors who have proven track records of success at Accel, Norwest Venture Partners, and Okta Ventures;
  • Expanding rapidly with new offices in Palo Alto, San Francisco, Bellevue, and Bengaluru;
  • Taking important steps to build an enterprise-grade company for the long-term, achieving SOC 2 Type 2 compliance and integrating with leading technology companies to help enterprises drive better, more data-driven decisions about their SaaS applications.

Our Product

Our Team

We’ve grown from 10 to 40 people, including our two most recent additions to the executive team: 

  • Neej Parikh joined us in January as Head of Sales. Neej has seen firsthand the transformative impact that SaaS has had on the enterprise, and that experience has been invaluable to our sales team as they build and develop relationships with enterprise IT leaders looking to maximize the value of their SaaS applications. 
  • Sadie Stoumen joined us in March as Head of Product. Sadie has been innovating and leading in product management and design for more than a decade. Product management and design are particularly important at Productiv, because the nature of what we do means delivering insights on a complex landscape of thousands of SaaS applications.

As we enter our second year, I couldn’t be more excited about what the future holds for Productiv. Every company is quickly becoming a technology company, with SaaS applications the glue that holds them together and unlocks productivity. As a result of this shift, IT leaders gain an even more critical business role in partnering across the organization to ensure every employee has the right applications, with the right license types, at the right times while still driving adoption and collaboration. 

This is why Ashish, Munish, and I founded Productiv, and nothing has validated our decision to start the company more than the reception we’ve seen in the last year. To learn more, listen to our customers’ results, request a demo or check out the resources on our website.

“We have been growing our headcount aggressively over the past couple of years. Productiv helps us manage our IT OpEx as we strive towards profitable growth.”

Dave McJannet, CEO, HashiCorp 

Productiv Can Help — For Free
For IT teams who need assistance right now, Productiv can help quickly measure real-time usage of your SaaS applications, rightsize your licenses, and support remote collaboration. Measuring and driving productivity for remote workers is in our DNA, and we’re here to help you as you navigate this new, and likely stressful, situation. We are offering a free 30-day trial of Productiv, so that you can quickly start understanding your organization’s current collaboration and productivity. To learn more, contact us below.

SaaS Best Practices for a Remote Work Surge

For IT teams who need assistance right now, Productiv can help quickly measure real-time usage of your SaaS applications, rightsize your licenses, and support remote collaboration. Measuring and driving productivity for remote workers is in our DNA, and we’re here to help you as you navigate this new, and likely stressful situation. We are offering a free 30-day trial of Productiv, so that you can quickly start understanding your organization’s current collaboration and productivity. To learn more, contact us here or below.


IT teams are under a remote collaboration stress-test with millions of employees suddenly working from home due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). What are the best practices for IT to support remote teams? How can IT see which applications are carrying their weight and driving productivity? Which applications can be quickly right-sized — up or down — to meet new business requirements? 

SaaS Application Usage

Productiv measures SaaS application usage and engagement at the feature level in real time. Since the remote work shift beginning in February, Productiv data shows dramatic changes in application engagement (or, what happens after a user logs in): 

  • Sharing video in Zoom has increased 175%; while overall Zoom usage and Zoom meetings have both increased by more than 50%;
  • Remote collaboration tools, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, have increased usage by nearly 100% each, with more people expanding their use of these applications;
  • File sharing systems, like Box and Dropbox have increased more than 20%, as employees are viewing and editing shared files with their colleagues

Remote Work Best Practices for IT Leaders

Productiv works closely with IT leaders and has identified four best practices to help adapt to this rapidly evolving remote collaboration challenge:

  • Ensure access and adoption. Are you set up to allow remote access to the software your teams use to get work done every day? This is the first question any IT leader will need to ask when faced with a surge in remote work. If there are cloud-based versions of applications your employees typically use in the office, are you set up to deploy them and will you have the necessary usage data to successfully drive adoption in those applications? 

Key Takeaway: A centralized and accurate list of applications and licenses is essential to evaluating and expanding remote adoption. 

  • Leverage already-remote teams as a model. Is your application stack optimized for remote collaboration? Previous “nice-to-have” applications may now be mission-critical in a remote-first work culture, and perhaps your organization already has a subset of remote employees whose application engagement can be replicated across your business. With more and more employees finding value in tools like Slack and Zoom, for example, this is an opportunity for you to reconsider those applications against the solutions you already have in place. 

Key Takeaway: Understanding what applications are already working well for remote work will help you anticipate and quickly react to needs. 

  • Manage license types by individual. Your sales team may have Zoom’s Pro licenses since they are frequently holding virtual meetings longer than 40 minutes, while an engineer who meets less frequently with external partners may not need such a license. But when you’re dealing with a sudden surge in remote work, you need to adjust your license provisioning strategy. Using an engagement-based approach, IT leaders can get regular updates on engaged and provisioned users on an application-by-application basis and automatically deprovision, upgrade, or downgrade licenses based on individual usage patterns to ensure each user has the appropriate license to get their work done.

Key Takeaway: Getting the right license types into the right hands has never been more important.

  • Minimize work interruption and maximize collaboration. As discussed in our recent interview with a customer, with engagement-based SaaS management, IT leaders can see whether files are being shared in Box, or video is being enabled in Zoom (compared with just seeing whether or not provisioned users actually logged in to those applications), giving a more complete picture of the effectiveness of remote collaboration. With feature-level engagement data, IT leaders can better understand the role that these tools play in enabling remote collaboration, better measure the effectiveness of remote work policies, and drive better adoption of these tools to ensure collaboration continuity remains uninterrupted at times of crisis. 

Key Takeaway: It’s the true test of IT, using technology to drive employee productivity–now more challenging with remote teams.


Productiv Insights: Measuring the impact of remote work

IT Leaders: Measuring and driving productivity for remote workers is in our DNA, and we’re here to help you as you navigate this new — and likely stressful — situation. To help you through these tough times, we are offering a free 30-day trial of Productiv so that you can quickly start understanding your organization’s current collaboration and productivity. To learn more, contact us here

Has the spread of COVID-19 made remote work the new reality for your company? While working from home is not a new concept, most companies have never dealt with a partially or fully remote workforce. As millions of employees stay home, continued employee productivity is the new C-suite priority. Business-critical questions, like  “Are we seeing a decrease in employee productivity?” or “Are my teams able to get their work done at home?” need answers. 

One of the key indicators of remote work productivity is employee engagement with remote collaboration applications, such as messaging and chat applications (Microsoft O365 Teams, Slack, and others), video conferencing applications (Zoom, Webex, BlueJeans, Skype For Business), file sharing applications (Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, Microsoft O365 Sharepoint).

In a world where every company has a remote workforce and every remote employee uses SaaS applications to work collaboratively, it’s never been more important for IT leaders to understand and influence changes in employee engagement with remote collaboration applications.

Understanding the effects of “work from home” on productivity

Here are some questions to ask:

  • Is there a noticeable change in how people are using applications? Are they consuming information but not acting as promptly as they would otherwise?
  • Are teams collaborating across the organization? Are there more meetings happening over Zoom, Teams, Webex, etc? Are employees turning video and screen-sharing on to maintain strong engagement during meetings? Has employee usage of messaging applications increased to take the place of face-to-face chats?
  • Have there been changes in how people are using essential applications? For each functional area, essential applications such as Salesforce for Sales or ServiceNow for IT, should retain strong engagement regardless of employee location.  Has anything changed?

What matters most: trends in remote collaboration application engagement

At Productiv, we help our enterprise customers manage their SaaS applications and measure the associated impact applications have on productivity. Productiv data shows that in the six weeks since COVID-19 became a rapidly growing global issue,


Week-over-week increase in engagement in remote collaboration applications


Week-over-week increase in number of online meetings 


Week-over-week increase in number of employees sharing video in these meetings

This indicates that remote collaboration is certainly helping a lot of companies maintain their employee productivity as teams work from home. However, we see that there is often room for improvement to bring employees even closer together.

Measuring and tracking this engagement data is critical in order to understand whether productivity is positively or negatively impacted by remote work. It can not only show you what’s working, but more importantly, also quickly identify what isn’t working. 

For example: If a few teams or functions are not using video conferencing, is it because of lack of training, lack of access, network bandwidth? Or is it a broader change management and cultural question?

How Productiv can help you understand your company’s employee productivity

With Productiv, you can analyze granular, contextual data on what employees are doing in SaaS applications after they log in, and understand trends in employee engagement with their SaaS applications. This data empowers them to define what actions to take, to increase employee productivity and help them get their work done. 

With Productiv, our customers track and share:

  • Engagement insights across applications: You can see if employees are using the collaboration applications you want them to use. Are those applications serving their intended purpose by bringing employees closer together? What types of collaboration patterns are being created across teams, by application? 
  • Engagement insights by feature and team. You can analyze engagement changes by function, location, or custom segments. This enables you to share the right level of detail with functional leaders, so they can mobilize their teams if engagement doesn’t match expectations.
  • Notifications. You can see daily or weekly changes in engagement metrics by application. For example: number of employees adopting Zoom and using screen sharing, sending messages on Microsoft Teams, managing Salesforce opportunities, and more.

With Productiv engagement data visualizations, you can see trends at the feature level for all your SaaS apps. The below company has seen Zoom daily engagement go up in the last few weeks. Yet, the black line – shared video in meeting – is still about half of the red line – attended meeting – meaning that only 50% of users are using video.

Considering that employees may be missing out on stronger, deeper conversations if they’re working remotely without video interaction, this engagement arms you with the data needed to report on change in how employees are using applications, whether teams are collaborating across the organization, and any changes in how people use core applications. This strengthens the partnership between IT and the C-Suite, and enables IT to influence the productivity of a totally remote workforce.

Measuring and driving productivity for remote workers is in our DNA, and we’re here to help you as you navigate this new, and likely stressful situation. To help you through these tough times, we are offering a free 30-day trial of Productiv so that you can quickly start understanding your organization’s current collaboration and productivity. To learn more, contact us here


Productiv 1:1 – Enterprise Sales Development with Ed Pagano

At Productiv, we are building a results-oriented culture which values family, fun, diversity, and mutual respect as much as earning customer love and winning big. That means learning from each other and collaborating closely with an extraordinary team consisting of new graduates to industry veterans. In this Productiv 1:1, we sat down with Ed Pagano, who shared a bit about his history in sales development and what the sales development function is like at Productiv. Watch this space for future 1:1 interviews with more members of the Productiv team. And if you like what you’ve read, check out our careers page and apply to join us today!

Tell me about your career history and what led you to Productiv? 

After graduating from Johns Hopkins in 2015 (can’t believe it’ll be 5 years this May!) I returned to my hometown outside NYC where I pursued finance as an analyst at Kroll Bond Rating Agency. While I was happy to be in the workforce, I quickly realized that my skill set was better suited for an external-facing role – more often interacting with people than spreadsheets.

Just over a year in, I became reconnected with a mentor from Johns Hopkins who also first looked to Wall Street to launch his career. He shared his story of leaving a finance role to pursue a career in tech in San Francisco and how he ultimately founded his own start-up.  Knowing I was looking for a change, he put me in touch with tech sales leaders in his network in SF. Having never been to the Bay before, I accepted an SDR position with AppDirect and moved to SF in July 2017. 

In March 2019, I found Productiv through a friend who worked with Munish at Linkedin. Though initially hesitant to join a company pre-launch (“in stealth,” no less),  I realized the massive opportunity to get in on the ground floor (employee #12!) of a company with an incredible founding team addressing a massive market need. 

Tell me about your responsibilities in sales development at Productiv? 

With such a large total addressable market (any company with a few dozen or more cloud applications can benefit from Productiv), my job is to speak with people experiencing the pains Productiv solves: lack of visibility into usage & spend (Shadow IT), under-informed negotiations with vendors, wasted spend, etc.  

I help drive alignment between their goals and Productiv’s capabilities. If we’re on the same page, I introduce them to one of our strategic account directors dedicated to addressing their specific use case. 

How does the sales development role at Productiv differ from other roles you have held? 

At larger companies with defined processes and enterprise tooling/resources, the charter of an SDR is often straightforward, though still difficult — spend as much time as possible talking to people experiencing the pain your company solves and help them see that it’s worth their time to explore your offering further.

At Productiv, it’s an exciting challenge to not only spend my time speaking with prospects but also to help put the processes and systems in place to ensure my success and the success of the Sales Development function moving forward.    

What are some of your favorite things about sales development?

I am very fortunate that most of my job consists of doing things that I love doing outside of work:  connecting with people, listening to their stories, learning about their interests, and building relationships. I also truly enjoy breaking down complex problems/ideas into something that’s easy to understand.

How does the sales development function at Productiv interact with other functions in the company?

Sales Development partners most closely with Marketing and Sales, but we’ve also established a great feedback loop across the business where I can quickly learn of the new ways we’re helping our customers and share how it’s landing in the field.    

What are you most excited about? 

Neej joining as Head of Sales! We’re already executing on his plans to build a world-class field organization and it’s exciting to see the growth of our rapidly expanding team. 

Enterprise SaaS Management: An Imperative for the Modern CIO

There’s a SaaS solution for every business need.

Today, there’s an enterprise SaaS management solution for virtually every business need: CRM, collaboration, design, file sharing, video conferencing, contract and document management and more. This is true across all industries: tech, healthcare, food and agriculture, transportation—you name it.

  • An average of 129 applications are in use for every company, and that only takes into account apps that use Okta’s single sign-on.
  • Netskope reports the actual number to be 1,071 cloud services per company.

Overall, the growth of SaaS is a good thing for businesses. Employees have more options than ever for getting work done productively no matter where they are. The ever-growing trend shows us that the forward-thinking, modern CIOs who enable SaaS-forward environments want different business units to be agile, and we all know agility is a key component of today’s digital-forward company. SaaS makes work better and easier because it streamlines routine business processes and gives employees more tools for getting their work done.

Widespread SaaS deployments and nonstop growth can make life a drag for IT departments 

At the same time, the dependency on SaaS across industries makes life hard for IT departments. The amount of SaaS applications per company is tipping into the hundreds or even thousands, and in IT it’s not easy to gain any real insight into which apps are being used and how much. This problem makes it particularly challenging to rationalize application portfolio decisions or even explain the value of business apps to leadership in the first place 

What makes SaaS growth so difficult?

IT teams have no way to see all apps in one place or gauge their usefulness across departments. As lines of business and employees contribute to the ongoing SaaS explosion, IT can’t see which apps employees are using regularly. Apps that IT does manage don’t provide the data they need for gathering adoption and engagement insights. In fact, only 45% of IT executives are confident they know how many SaaS applications are in use at their companies (Pulse Q&A).

In addition, the constant barrage of renewals plus the lack of info to manage them effectively is frustrating. The organic, sprawling nature of SaaS purchasing means that renewals are happening all the time. To make matters worse, IT lacks information on application effectiveness, which makes it hard to prepare to talk about renewals.

Then there’s application redundancy, which is a problem because costs get out of control, plus people can’t collaborate easily between teams. Because SaaS applications tend to multiply without proper oversight from IT, redundancy is pretty high. It’s costly and employees can’t easily collaborate because they’re all using different tools. Meanwhile, IT doesn’t have the data to make informed decisions on which apps should be standardized. Also, most companies don’t know the size and contents of their SaaS deployment footprint. Basically, IT can’t justify application portfolios or easily manage costs. Yet, 97% of IT leaders see managing the cost and usage of SaaS applications as a top business priority (Pulse Q&A).

Administrative overhead gets to be too much, too. There are a handful of enterprise SaaS management solutions on the market now, but most don’t have the right feature set required for collecting true application engagement analytics. Businesses have to supplement this data with quite a bit of manual effort—56% of IT executives still rely on internal tools and manual spreadsheets to discover and manage SaaS applications (Pulse Q&A). Plus, management processes are handled on an app-by-app basis, which isn’t scalable.

Businesses need a better way to help IT manage SaaS portfolios. What IT departments really need is SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics.

How to standardize SaaS apps across your company, make sure people actually use them and cut costs at the same time:

The modern CIO wants to empower employees to work flexibly and dynamically. At the same time, they also want to make it easy to standardize SaaS applications across the company, make sure employees actually use those apps and get rid of anything unnecessary. Although enterprise SaaS management can be a headache, fortunately the CIO community is rising to the challenge and taking ownership of managing the SaaS portfolio.

CIOs at leading companies like Uber, Equinix, Fox and HashiCorp are accomplishing this goal using Productiv, SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics:

Let’s walk through the capabilities enterprise SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics can bring to your IT team:

  • Easily identify and manage your SaaS apps while keeping track of engagement data 

Gain visibility into all SaaS apps in one console and track renewal dates, adoption milestones and spend. Evaluate redundancy by looking at engagement instead of login data alone.

  • Determine whether your company is getting value from apps

Once you know the apps your company is using and can control licenses and spend, it’s way easier to get to the real value. Be the expert who helps your company capture the true value of your applications 

  •   Make real changes in your business by allowing IT to focus on innovating and strategic work.

 Your IT team can bring together the right mix of apps for your business while controlling licensing and costs at the same time. Find out where app redundancy exists across teams and figure out the best app combos for every department based on usage

Quick recap on why enterprise SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics is a need-to-have

To sum it up, SaaS apps are growing fast and so are business app portfolios. This means that IT leaders have to figure out a way to manage applications successfully. The key: SaaS management powered by application engagement analytics.

Looking for a better way to make SaaS apps work for you the way they should? Schedule a demo with Productiv and learn how to visualize, rationalize and maximize the value of your SaaS apps

Productiv Insights: How Split Software gained SaaS management superpowers

At Productiv we love catching up with our customers. I recently had coffee with Matt Roeckel, Director IT and Information Security at Split Software. Split is one of Productiv’s early customers, and Matt shared his perspective on modern SaaS management.

What’s your role at your company? 

I am Matt Roeckel, Director of IT and Information Security at Split Software which is the leading Feature Delivery Platform for engineering teams. My role at Split is to develop, implement and manage our IT strategy. I ensure our employees have the right set of applications and tools to collaborate and get their work done efficiently, at the same time prioritizing information security and compliance.

What was the problem you were facing?

We are a fast-growing SaaS-first company. This has led to a situation where we have as many SaaS apps as employees! I run fast and hard, but it’s hard to catch up. I am negotiating ~2 renewals every week. I often have no access to user usage information for most apps. I want to know what those apps are – are we wasting money, are we exposed to risk, are users not using them to get value?

What made this a challenging, yet critical, problem to solve?

Two issues made it particularly challenging to manage this ever expanding SaaS app portfolio:

  • The key information for apps sits in diverse systems i.e. finance and expense systems, contracts and order forms, app-specific dashboards, Okta, etc. Hence, it was very challenging for me to understand what I need to prioritize. I had no visibility. I started building a poor man’s Google Sheet solution (sound familiar?). Pretty soon maintaining the sheet became its own beast. I was spending 3-4 hours every week just consolidating and maintaining information.
  • Given information is so fractured, decision making is hard and onerous. For example, for our most expensive SaaS application, what’s our true usage? What do I really need to renew? Renewing licenses just because users are assigned to those currently is not always the best call.

I wanted to move the company beyond SaaS chaos and into a more modern world of SaaS management

How did Productiv help?

Provisioned users or even logged-in users provide an incomplete view for us. I wanted to understand the usage information for SaaS applications. I think of Productiv as my SaaS management command center – it pulls information from multiple sources. From spend, contracts and SSO logins, to application usage by feature and by team – everything is available in one place. No more spreadsheets! Productiv has become the de facto place team members and I go to get answers.

More importantly, it has really helped me streamline how I work and make higher quality business decisions. It tells me what to do and when to do it. For example, I get alerts when a renewal is coming up, when spending has increased, etc. And the alert takes me right to the app, where I get a recommendation on what to renew.

How are things going today? 

With Productiv, I have been able to save 3-4 hours every week – time I can invest in proactively shaping and implementing our IT strategy versus being reactive. I have saved 20%+ on licenses for multiple apps where we had a renewal in the last 6 months given the analytical data Productiv provides, which is difficult to understand from vendor dashboards – something our VP of Finance is very happy about. Things don’t sneak up on me anymore – I love the weekly alerts I get when spend on an app increases, or a renewal is coming up. Finally, I am able to do fast, data-driven analysis on how applications are being used across different departments so I can run programs to drive app adoption – I could never get to that earlier. I think we have overcome SaaS chaos!

I had a great time chatting with Matt. To learn more about some of the benefits Matt is seeing, feel free to schedule a demo with us. Or check out our ebook to get more ideas about how you can rethink SaaS management for your company.

SaaS Management for the Modern CIO: Why I Joined Productiv

Last week, I joined Productiv as the Head of Sales and I am thrilled to join a company that is solving a real problem around SaaS Application Management. I am looking forward to building out an innovative and best in class field organization that is capable of consistent execution and is able to scale at lightning speed while delivering a red-carpet customer experience. I wanted to share a few reasons why I decided to join Productiv:

Disruption and Innovation

At my previous company, I led Digital Transformation programs for large companies like Symantec, IBM, and NCR, helping them double-down on the shift from traditional business models of perpetual license and maintenance to subscription-centric business models. This digital transformation trend powers the tectonic shift in the technology industry – the move from deploying on-premises applications to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and ultimately, the shift from building internal applications to buying SaaS apps.

SaaS apps have been a boon to customers and employees, who can use these applications for anytime, anywhere access to work along with the ability to easily collaborate. But the sheer number of SaaS applications and the ease with which they can be purchased creates a massive influx of applications with an ever-growing unaccountable IT spend. For example, the sales organization may prefer to use Box for file sharing, but the engineering organization may have standardized on OneDrive, while individuals from across the company are buying personal licenses for Dropbox. The result is that many companies have a huge overlap of functionality within their SaaS applications and often purchase more SaaS licenses than they need.

This disruption has created a need for innovation in the way SaaS application portfolios, IT spend, renewals, and application adoption should be managed. This is where Productiv comes in. Productiv is the gold standard for using true application engagement analytics to empower IT leaders to drive better business decisions.

The Modern CIO

The problem I described above spans across every single industry – from tech to healthcare, financial services, transportation & logistics, food & agriculture – all of these companies have invested in SaaS applications for CRM, collaboration, design, file-sharing, video-conferencing, contract/document management, e-signature, etc. The great news is that the CIO community is rising to the challenge and taking ownership of what a true managed SaaS IT portfolio should look like. Modern CIOs want to empower different business units to continue to be agile. At the same time, they want to make it easy to standardize useful SaaS applications across the company, drive adoption across those apps, and cut the fat. These modern CIOs at companies like Uber, Zuora, Equinix, Fox, Hashicorp, and other companies are doing this with Productiv. It’s exciting to be a part of a company providing these deep analytics to technology leaders to make stronger and better business decisions, and I look forward to working with more modern CIOs.

The Team 

Lastly, I joined Productiv because of the impressive pedigree of the founding team. What drew me to the team was Jody’s experience building Google Analytics for the Enterprise, Ashish’s technical vision for the product grounded in his experience leading engineering teams at companies like Postmates, Amazon, and eBay, and Munish’s sound experience leading operations at companies like LinkedIn and Equinix.

I couldn’t be more excited to join a company with founders who come from highly successful technology organizations. The second-to-none culture and values along with the top-tier investments from Accel, Norwest Venture Partners, and Okta Ventures are also a true sign of an up-and-coming unicorn.

I am incredibly grateful to be part of such a team and company and my plan is to build-out an unstoppable field sales organization that is focused on delivering an exceptional red-carpet customer experience.

If you’re interested in being a member of a world-class field organization that will help IT leaders rethink SaaS management, while building a professional path to leadership, please have a look at our job openings or reach out to me directly. We’re looking to bring on Enterprise AEs, Mid-Market AEs, SDRs, and SEs. This is a rocketship you won’t want to miss! ????

The Secret to Smarter SaaS Management: What Employees Want

If you are anything like the thousands of companies analyzed by leading access management platform Okta, you likely have hundreds of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications in your company. The explosion of SaaS applications in the enterprise, often purchased by teams and business units without informing IT, is no longer news.

What is news is how acute this problem has become. While 97% of the IT executives surveyed by Pulse Q&A think that it is a business priority to better manage SaaS applications, only 45% even know how many such applications are in use at their company.

Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?

  • The CIO wants to know what apps we are using, but our app tracking spreadsheet is outdated – again!
  • We are behind on new user license provisioning requests – again!
  • How do we know we need 1,163 of the most expensive license? Are people even using all those high-end features?
  • Another auto-renew put us over budget — again!
  • We are paying for four cloud storage apps… how do we even start rationalizing these?

Pitfalls of SaaS Management today

56% of IT teams still rely on manual, error-prone and frequently outdated spreadsheets and internal tools for SaaS management. Some use internal surveys to glean what users are using and what they need to get their work done. These surveys surface less information than expected – users who are purchasing SaaS on their own don’t want IT to interfere with or “shut down” their favorite applications.

Even if a company has started adopting a SaaS management platform for application discovery, you may only discover applications that have had a financial transaction or have users who have logged in, in a certain time period. This is a very narrow lens for multiple reasons:

People often sign up for free SaaS applications which may go undetected
Managing SaaS based on inactive users spotlights inefficient or wasted use, but does not show you how users are getting value
Many redundant applications (such as multiple cloud-based file sharing apps, team chat apps and others) will have similar counts of logged in or provisioned users. Without understanding how or how frequently the application is used, incorrect rationalization and rightsizing decisions are made.

There’s another thing to consider. In today’s world where employee choice is a key driver of employee happiness and retention, heavy-handed SaaS management by IT and procurement is not only unpopular but can have negative consequences. So what is the solution?

Employee engagement with applications: The secret to smarter SaaS management

Forward-looking companies such as Fox have realized that they need to make SaaS management decisions based on smarter, deeper user engagement data. They want to drive adoption of SaaS that delivers real value to their teams and their business. So they focus on understanding:

  • What applications are actually being used day in, day out by users?
  • What features of these applications are users actually using?
  • Are there trends or patterns in how different teams use applications?
  • Is there a difference in application adoption by teams, locations, devices, business functions or any other criteria?

Let me make it real. Here are 3 examples of critical SaaS management decisions made smarter with user engagement data:

1. SaaS renewal planning

IT leaders and procurement teams are demanding more control over their renewal decisions, and want it to be data-driven. This goes beyond just tracking unused licenses to manage spend. They want to understand what applications and features are in use, what users really need, and how that maps to license types.

For example, understanding how users are using the expensive features of high-end licenses for products such as ServiceNow leads to better decisions about license mix to purchase at renewal. In the example here, there are many users who have the expensive Fulfiller license type for ServiceNow, and their engagement shows they would be equally served by lower-end licenses. Using this type of engagement data allows the IT team to renew the contract with a more customized license type mix and save real money in the process.

2. License allocation and management

User licenses, once allocated, are no longer available for other users even if they are underutilized. Once you can track actual usage of features, it’s possible to make decisions such as:

  • Proactively upgrade a user’s license if they are often using features that seem advanced – they will love IT for it!
  • Warn a user and proactively downgrade their license if you see they don’t use high-end features – they won’t notice the difference and you will optimize spend

Ideally your SaaS management platform automates workflows so you can set it up once and see ongoing value. In the example here, we have it set up so that anyone who is provisioned a ServiceNow Fulfiller license but has only used the lower-end Requester license features gets downgraded.

3. Managing redundant SaaS applications

Often when redundant applications, such as Box/Dropbox/Google Drive for cloud-based file-sharing, or Slack/Microsoft Teams for team chat are in the mix, it is difficult to make a call on leaving them alone or standardizing on one. Having data about what users are constantly using and how they are using these applications can save you a lot of money, as well as eliminate confusion about which applications to keep active.


One of our customers made a smart decision about choosing between Slack and Microsoft Teams. If they had just compared the number of provisioned users on each, they would have been left managing two expensive applications. Instead they focused on user engagement and were able to standardize on one application.

The secret to smarter SaaS management

Savvy SaaS management is critical to streamline daily IT tasks, optimize spend and run a stress-free procurement process, and drive adoption of your approved applications.
The next iteration of SaaS management brings employee choice into the mix. Bringing in data about user engagement with SaaS applications means that IT and procurement can achieve their goals, while also giving employees the tools they know and love – a win-win for all!

Predictions: Enterprise SaaS in 2020

In 2019, SaaS applications continued to grow in popularity because of their scalability, ease-of-use, rich feature sets, and no need to rely on installing and running servers. When coupled with the fact that SaaS applications make it easier for employees to collaborate and do their jobs, it’s no wonder that the SaaS market is projected to be worth more than $120 billion in 2020. 

After working closely throughout 2019 with customers across every industry and identifying their most pressing SaaS application management needs, here are four of my predictions for the world of SaaS applications in 2020.

100% SaaS companies will no longer be an outlier

In 2019, there are companies (primarily in the technology industry) that are already 100% SaaS. These companies were born in the cloud, and in many cases were built to displace legacy technologies, which informed their software purchasing decisions. For example, they selected G Suite because it was much easier to operate than traditional, on-premises office applications, or selected Box because collaborating was easier and more cost-effective than with an on-premises server.

In 2020, we will see more of this, especially as generational changes continue to transform the workplace with leaders who ‘grew up’ with SaaS or started their careers in SaaS-first companies. Additionally, with the rise in SaaS-only companies, we will see more of them looking at how their employees are using SaaS. Before, IT leaders just wanted to know if employees were using specific applications. In 2020, the conversation will shift more toward how they are using these applications to get their work done and how business technology leaders can replicate that productivity across their entire workplace.

Acceptance of app sprawl means the death of the spreadsheet

App sprawl has always been an issue, as there are constantly new applications popping up that solve new business problems. The SaaS go-to-market model, where vendors market directly to business units and even sometimes to individual employees has exacerbated this. 

In 2020, enterprises will begin to think about solving the app sprawl problem organizationally vs. individually, looking at how the broader organization interacts with and uses SaaS applications. By analyzing employee engagement with applications, enterprises can identify cost savings, align the number of SaaS application licenses with the number of engaged users and optimize their application portfolio. This approach can save enterprises as much as 30% in costs – and that doesn’t even take into account the time otherwise spent managing perpetually incomplete spreadsheets and conducting surveys to measure application engagement and redundancy.

The new role of the CIO in the age of productivity

As more companies standardize on SaaS, IT will continue to evolve more into a proactive business partner vs. a reactive service provider. The IT organizations of yesterday weren’t called ‘help desks’ for no reason — IT was a place where people went when the software that they were provided wasn’t working. But the SaaS go-to-market model has upended this, and SaaS vendors now market directly to business units and end users. Because of this, when these business units or end users select SaaS applications, IT needs to partner with them to make sure that the SaaS application will work in the context of the business’ broader IT objectives and goals.  

The employee experience will be as important as the customer experience

There’s been a rise in marketing owning the customer experience, but more businesses are starting to focus on the employee experience. In many organizations, the CIO owns the employee experience. In 2020, we’ll see more businesses placing the same focus that they put on their customer experience back on their employees — and this will foster collaboration and increase productivity.  Progressive business technology leaders care about the employee experience, because they want to empower their employees with good technologies to help get the ‘lower level stuff’ done, freeing people to pursue more strategic business goals.

Productiv 1:1 – Design for Enterprise Software

At Productiv, we are building a results-oriented culture which values family, fun, diversity, and mutual respect as much as earning customer love and winning big. That means learning from each other and collaborating closely with an extraordinary team consisting of new graduates to industry veterans. In this Productiv 1:1, we sat down with Jocelyn Lin who leads product design to learn more about her career, her role at Productiv, and the important role design plays in the overall Productiv business strategy. Watch this space for future 1:1 interviews with more members of the Productiv team. And if you like what you’ve read, check out our careers page and apply to join us today!

Tell me about your career history and what led you to Productiv? 

I actually started my career in product management at Oracle in enterprise software, but realized that I really loved design. So I moved to Google as a user experience designer where I got to work on things that the whole world uses, like Search and Google Maps. After that, I wanted to learn about other aspects of building products and went to different sort of experience at Polyvore, a fashion community/ecommerce startup. It was a fun new user base to think about (women who love fashion!) I was the first designer there, and wore many hats. Eventually Polyvore was acquired by Yahoo, where we got to spin up some really interesting projects in lifestyle and media. But after a while I decided to take a break and spent a year and a half off to spend with my family. When I was ready to work again, I found that I really enjoyed being at a startup. Productiv was a unique opportunity of very early stage, brand new space, no product yet, and a very strong starting team, so I jumped at the chance!

What role does design play at Productiv? 

At Productiv, design is about understanding user motivations and pain points so that we can create solutions to meet those needs. Design is particularly important here because we’re delivering insights on a complex landscape of hundreds, or even thousands of SaaS applications. This means that we need to extract the data and present it in an immediately understandable way. We also need to focus on simplifying workflows and making people more efficient. 

How does leading the design function at a startup differ from other design roles you have held? 

Startups, in general, are resource-constrained. There are fewer people (and, consequently, less time), so leading design at a startup requires strong alignment on strategy and a laser focus on priorities. You also need to move fast. Because of the fewer process layers, you are able to make decisions much more easily because you know the people you work with more intimately. Decisions aren’t wrought with politics, they’re conversations with people you know well who are all focused on the same goal of building a great company. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, is the freedom that startup design leadership provides. I am empowered to define what role design has in the company, and I get to shape the process, team, and principles. 

How do you approach design decisions? 

Design decisions are essentially just decisions that help you move the design forward for a product. Clear and early communication with my engineering, product, sales, and marketing partners help me correctly define the design objectives. When there are divergent opinions, I work with my partners to identify the divergences, hash it out in person, and move on. Collaboration and transparency aren’t just two of Productiv’s key values, they are also crucial to making good design decisions.

Why is design important to enterprise software? 

In the past, software was a utility. Businesses knew that people had to use software to accomplish tasks, so it was primarily purchased for features rather than ease of use. Now, however, enterprises are starting to catch up to the revolution that happened in consumer software over the past decade. As more people use software outside of the workplace, there is a higher standard for ease of use. On top of this, the proliferation of SaaS in the workplace has meant there is more choice. So for enterprise software companies like Productiv, design is a smart business decision. Product design is about solving people’s problems. Even if the end user is not the buyer, there is still a person interacting with the software, and good design strategies need to align the product to the user’s needs, not just the buyer’s needs. 

What differences have you noticed in designing enterprise software vs. consumer software? How does this affect your overall design strategy? 

While enterprise and consumer software are both designed for the same end user, the goals are different. In enterprise, you typically design software for smaller numbers of very specialized professionals with deep expertise and a vested interest in accomplishing goals, whereas in consumer software you solve problems for larger swaths of the general public with a very limited window to capture their attention. In enterprise, you can also assume a lot more knowledge and technical expertise. While workflows still need to be as simple and short as possible, you can assume that they’re familiar with using tech tools, and common user interface paradigms. As far as setting an overall design strategy, in enterprise software (and particularly at startups), you need to test assumptions and ideas on these specialized people, which leads to a very different product validation strategy.

What are you most excited about? 

Productiv is an exciting place to be, but what excites me most is figuring out what product-market fit is in a brand new business, and building something new. Given that my experience is primarily in consumer, it’s been fun to learn how marketing, customer success, and sales work in enterprise. They have close ties with the customer/user, and I’ve been really interested in seeing how that overlaps with user experience, so that we can work together towards the same goals and establish a shared understanding of who our customer/user is. And of course, continuing to learn and solve interesting problems, both in product and in company process, is always exciting!