What is SaaS Management?

What Is SaaS Management?

Did you know that most companies now use hundreds of SaaS applications? We tackle the question “What is SaaS management?” and share why it’s essential that IT teams invest in a data-driven SaaS Management Platform like Productiv.

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The challenges of managing an application portfolio

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are becoming increasingly popular due to the ease of adopting cloud-based tools, the rise in companies relying on distributed workforces, and the rapid growth of the SaaS market. In fact, most companies now have 250-plus applications in their portfolio.

While the dramatic increase in SaaS adoption has mostly been a net positive for companies, it’s also created a new set of challenges for IT. These challenges include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Having visibility into all SaaS applications
  • Maintaining security and compliance
  • Spending significant time provisioning licenses
  • Not knowing which apps are being used
  • Giving employees a way to easily discover and request apps
  • Lacking the right data to build a strong digital work experience

Gartner forecasts annual SaaS spend will grow by more than 19%, but 25% of apps will end up being underutilized or over deployed. It’s clear that CIOs and IT teams need a way to efficiently and effectively deal with their company’s sophisticated app portfolio.

What is SaaS management?

Enter SaaS management: a method to help companies centralize the discovery, management, and security of their SaaS apps (as defined by Gartner).

It’s an idea that seems simple but is actually quite difficult and time-consuming for IT to take on. Why? Because the very features that make SaaS applications powerful for organizations — purpose-built, cloud-driven, easy to purchase, accessible with just a few clicks — also make managing them extremely difficult.

Here are some of the many reasons why SaaS oversight is so complicated:

  • Companies are adding hundreds of applications to their portfolios
  • Application functions tend to overlap and create silos
  • Companies often have little insight into the value of their tools
  • Spend can be a black hole when many apps are purchased outside of IT
  • Shadow IT increases the security risk surface of the company

In short, SaaS doesn’t manage itself.

Without a watchful eye, apps may end up being underutilized or outright forgotten — while continuing to be a very real cost for your business. That’s why IT needs access to intelligent insights about both IT-managed and non-managed SaaS apps.

It’s crucial for companies to invest in a SaaS Management Platform (SMP) to address these challenges — but not all SMPs are created equal. A data-driven approach to SaaS management enables proactive governance, accelerates operational velocity, and increases employee engagement and satisfaction with apps in the portfolio.

What are SaaS Management Platforms?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions we get at Productiv. The simple answer is that SaaS Management Platforms make it possible for businesses to proactively manage SaaS application licenses, workflows, usage, and costs.

SMP solutions come in different flavors. Some are primarily focused on controlling spend, others on license management. Regardless of their individual features, they all serve a similar purpose: To provide CIOs and IT teams with some level of visibility into the apps in their company portfolio.

A more robust SMP like Productiv digs deeper, leveraging SaaS Intelligence™ for superior SaaS management practices. Productiv provides visibility into whether — and how — employees are using SaaS apps, making it possible for CIOs and IT teams to:

  • Reduce app redundancies or sunset tools with minimal usage
  • Anticipate renewals and align license needs to actual usage
  • Create data-driven policies around software usage and purchases
  • Bring heavily used apps or those dealing with sensitive data behind SSO
  • Standardize security and compliance policies across all apps
  • Easily recommend IT-approved apps to employees

Download the complete eBook What is SaaS Management? to learn more.

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What are the benefits of a SaaS Management Platform?

Companies that use an SMP to proactively manage their app portfolio can realize a number of benefits, which depend on the capabilities of the SMP. A data-driven SMP should leverage predictive insights for improved governance and cost efficiency, automate workflows for greater IT productivity, and personalize digital employee experiences at scale for higher satisfaction.

Benefits of an SMP include:

Optimizing SaaS spend

According to an analysis of Productiv data, less than half of the tools in a company’s app portfolio are being regularly used by employees. SaaS Management Platforms help combat this problem by enabling IT to identify redundant apps that eat into the budget, consolidate individual subscriptions into an enterprise contract, and invest only in licenses that will actually be used.

Increasing visibility of app usage

The more information you have about how (or even if) your SaaS apps are being used, the better you can optimize your app portfolio. Productiv’s SMP makes it easy for you to dig deeper into insights at the application feature level, so you can see exactly how employees are using your apps. This can be extremely useful when consolidating duplicate apps or making renewal decisions.

Embracing shadow IT

Our data shows that 56% of a company’s app portfolio is now Shadow IT. With a SaaS Management Platform, IT teams get unprecedented visibility into all SaaS applications being adopted across the company. Now IT can leverage that visibility to highlight gaps in the application portfolio or identify trending tools that other employees may want to use.

Ensuring app security

When employees choose and download their own tools, IT can’t protect users or the company. SaaS Management Platforms enable the IT team to set and maintain consistent compliance policies across owned apps as well as Shadow IT. With security requirements only increasing in importance, it’s critical that IT can maintain governance policies across all applications.

Empowering employees to do their best work

With remote and hybrid work becoming increasingly common, employees are relying on SaaS tools to communicate and get their work done. At the same time, the sheer quantity of apps can end up hindering — rather than helping — employees be productive. SMPs give IT the ability to ensure employees have access to the right tools for their roles, and visibility into duplicate tools that may be impeding productivity or collaboration.

SaaS Intelligence™: From Instincts to Insights

Today, many IT leaders are relying on gut instinct to make decisions about their SaaS management operations and practices — even those who use an SMP. IT organizations need the right intelligence to move from intuition to data-driven decisioning.

At Productiv, we believe that effective SaaS management is impossible without the right data foundation. That’s why we’re pioneering a new data-driven approach called SaaS Intelligence.

SaaS Intelligence is the future of SaaS Management Platforms, designed to help CIOs and IT teams run a fundamentally smarter business and deliver personalized employee experiences at scale.

Productiv’s SaaS Management Platform — the only SMP powered by SaaS Intelligence — drives the following outcomes:

  • Improved app visibility and compliance
  • Higher cost efficiency across the app portfolio
  • Faster operations through intelligent automation
  • Better decisioning via predictive insights and benchmarks
  • Increased employee personalization via machine learning

Download the complete eBook What Is SaaS Management? to learn more.

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