An Introduction To SaaS Management Platforms
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has been an established business model since the 1960s. The concept grew from a widespread need for centralized computing during the third industrial revolution. The introduction of SaaS technology has enabled businesses to automate and centralize management tasks across the company’s entire portfolio of SaaS applications. Today, the SaaS industry is worth more than $145 billion, according to a Gartner press release.
What Is SaaS Management?
SaaS Management (SM) refers to all of the processes required to effectively scale cloud software, account for users’ needs, extend strategic business objectives and uphold privacy and data security standards.
Instead of relying on traditional spreadsheets to manage SaaS appliances, SaaS management platforms utilize advanced methods including integrations with enterprise resource planning (ERP), expense and contract systems, human resources (HR), web traffic monitoring, email scanning and single sign-on (SSO) technology. The main objectives of SaaS management are to reduce risks from unmanaged tools, improve the value of purchased software and boost the effectiveness of deployed applications.
A SaaS management platform (SMP) is described by Gartner as a standalone tool that can discover, manage and secure SaaS applications from a centralized administrator dashboard. Fully-featured SMPs should help IT administrators perform the following tasks:
- Automate routine SaaS management tasks
- Protect sensitive data and files in their environment
- Optimize SaaS app usage to increase productivity and collaboration
- Gain visibility into all applications in use, including shadow IT
What Is the Purpose of SaaS Management?
A SaaS management platform performs as an all-in-one tool for tracking and managing a company’s SaaS subscriptions in order to increase usage and reduce costs. With a quality SaaS management platform, company leaders are able to see all of their SaaS applications in one location, who is using them and the overall value that they present to the business.
There are several key reasons why companies choose to deploy SaaS management:
1. Manage SaaS Licenses
SaaS management platforms make it easy for business leaders to see the details of each SaaS license. With this information, they can decide whether to maintain the license or eliminate unnecessary spending by reassigning or canceling licenses that may be unused across the organization.
2. Contain Costs of SaaS Applications
Excessive spending can occur due to common issues such as duplicate apps, forgotten cancellations, un-revoked licenses and un-optimized licenses. SaaS management platforms enable businesses to better determine the functionality of SaaS apps allowing them to focus on the most valuable licenses and reduce costs elsewhere.
3. Plan SaaS Renewals
Without a solid SaaS management plan in place, SaaS renewals may often be overlooked. A SaaS management platform reminds business leaders ahead of time of upcoming SaaS renewals, allowing them ample time to negotiate and plan for renewals in advance.
4. Manage SaaS Contracts and Vendors
SaaS management platforms make it simple for business leaders to stay up-to-date with SaaS vendors and ensure that all contracts are accurate and optimized for value. Complete visibility of SaaS contracts and vendors can help prevent gaps in software licensing.
5. Secure SaaS Applications
With SaaS management platforms, employees have the necessary tools to get the job done. The right applications are secured, allowing employees to work as efficiently as possible while reducing spending on unnecessary SaaS investments. Convenient app catalogs allow staff to see what is available and search by category.
6. Reduce and Prevent Shadow IT
With shadow IT, information technology projects are managed outside, and without the express knowledge, of the IT department. The implementation of a SaaS management platform can help reduce and even prevent shadow IT while minimizing the possibility of harmful security gaps.
7. Improve IT Collaboration in an Organization
Quality IT collaboration within an organization is dependent on several factors, including the manner in which different parties understand each other and succeed in managing each other’s expectations. SaaS management platforms are effective in improving IT collaboration by providing teams with complete transparency.
8. Maintain an Active SaaS Inventory
Access to better insights can make it easy to take action. SaaS management platforms enable businesses to maintain an active SaaS inventory that includes all current licenses and subscriptions. Businesses are able to immediately access detailed information and uncover new opportunities to renegotiate contracts and enhance the functionality of essential apps.
What Are the Benefits of SaaS Management Platforms?
SaaS now represents the go-to delivery model for business software. There are many reasons why businesses are deploying SaaS management strategies, starting with enhanced SaaS license management. The risk of mismanaging SaaS licenses drastically increases as more departments or teams purchase SaaS tools. One of the biggest concerns for license mismanagement is unused or under-utilized licenses.
When licenses do not have a clear attribution of ownership to employees or individual teams, unused licenses could pose a security threat. Active management of licenses can help ensure that sensitive data stored in SaaS applications does not fall into the wrong hands and that any unused licenses are promptly canceled before automatic renewals to prevent unnecessary spending.
The reduction or prevention of shadow IT is also a major benefit of SaaS management platforms. The growth of shadow IT is often correlated to an increase in SaaS application purchases by individual users, teams or lines of business.
The building or purchase of technology applications or systems within an organization, without the IT department’s knowledge or approval, can have repercussions such as the purchase of duplicate apps. The right SaaS management strategy can help hinder the growth of shadow IT by making all SaaS applications visible and discoverable. Automatic renewals can be convenient for smaller businesses but can also prove problematic.
Many SaaS applications feature automatic renewals that occur every 30, 60 or 90 days, or more. Businesses are not always notified of these renewals before they occur, essentially locking the company into another payment cycle. SaaS management platforms help reduce the occurrence of unwanted renewals by clearly defining and documenting all SaaS applications in use. Business leaders will know when a renewal date is approaching and can choose to continue paying for the license or cancel.
Another advantage of SaaS management platforms is greater insight into spending. A common challenge in managing SaaS within an organization is tracking expenses. Without a strategy in place to manage apps, unplanned technology spending can occur, especially when these apps are purchased as a reimbursed expense or with a credit card. SaaS management platforms provide business leaders with greater insight regarding how much is being spent on SaaS applications, who is making the purchases and the value that these apps provide.
Just one data breach could force a business to shut down permanently. With the increased use of SaaS by businesses, the risk of a cyber event drastically increases. All SaaS applications used for business purposes store sensitive data, such as customer information. Developing a SaaS management approach that discovers and identifies every SaaS application in use can help enhance business security and prevent the unauthorized release of information.
SaaS management platforms can also aid businesses in future application selection. In addition to providing insights into spending, SaaS management platforms can provide business leaders with the information they need to understand and analyze user behavior. Measuring the utilization of SaaS applications can provide a more complete picture demonstrating how applications are used in the long term. This data can help influence decisions about what types of applications will provide the business with the most value.
Getting Started with SaaS Management
Enterprise SaaS management focuses on SaaS discovery, the SaaS application lifestyle and IT collaboration. There are several essential steps involved in SaaS management, including the following:
Step 1: Achieve Full Visibility of the SaaS Portfolio
The average business uses dozens of SaaS apps, making it more important than ever to maintain a clear and accurate SaaS environment. Lack of visibility is a common problem for businesses that use Software-as-a-Service technology.
Modern SaaS management platforms are designed to give users full visibility into all of their SaaS applications from a single, centralized dashboard. On the dashboard, users can see each app in the environment, gain visibility into shadow IT and identify who is using each app. Administrators can then use these insights to make informed decisions regarding which apps to continue using. Data can also be used to optimize SaaS usage by identifying functionality gaps, consolidating SaaS usage and finding redundant apps.
Step 2: Automate Day-to-Day SaaS Management Tasks
The next step in SaaS management involves automating day-to-day SaaS management tasks, especially user lifecycle management (ULM). ULM refers to the managing, onboarding and offboarding of user accounts on a daily basis. This typically includes tasks such as resetting passwords, managing mid-lifecycle changes and updating profile information. An SMP can be used to automate these time-consuming and tedious tasks.
The use of pre-built templates can be useful for ensuring that the business is following the best practices for each process that they want to automate. Each workflow can then be customized to meet the unique needs of the company. Finally, workflows should be regularly updated when new apps are added to the portfolio.
Step 3: Mitigate Data Security Risks and Protect Data
While the use of SaaS can be highly effective in terms of collaboration and productivity, it does have some downsides when it comes to security. SaaS management can be useful in mitigating data security risks by automating file security, implementing a privilege access model and enforcing IT security policies.
Contact the IT Professionals at Orases
Software-as-a-Service represents a large and growing share of the public cloud services market. With access to the right technologies, businesses can better manage their subscriptions, negotiate contracts with confidence and minimize waste. For more information about SaaS management platforms, schedule a consultation with the SaaS development team at Orases.