What is SaaS spend management?
SaaS spend management is the process of monitoring and tracking software contracts to better manage and optimize their cost. Monitoring all of your purchasing, licensing, renewals, and other SaaS-related costs is key to staying organized and improving the company budget. Whether conducted via spreadsheet or in an application, it’s important to track your SaaS spending and utilization.
SaaS management vs SaaS license management
SaaS management is effectively monitoring and using the software applications purchased by an organization. As businesses grow, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications become increasingly complicated to keep track of. SaaS management unlocks the full value of SaaS investments and saves companies time and money on SaaS costs.
The SaaS applications used by an organization may or may not have licenses associated with them. However, mismanaging SaaS licenses is a common mistake as technology grows. Unused or under-used licenses can go unnoticed and result in security risks. Proper SaaS license management protects organization resources and alleviates stress.
License management software offers many features to help organizations run more efficiently. A few key capabilities include:
- Automated software recognition
- License tracking and alerts
- Identification of license types
- Flagging unauthorized software
SaaS vs Managed Services
Managed services are different from SaaS. Managed services is the practice of using a third-party provider to manage and maintain the organization’s IT infrastructure and related services. Outsourcing the responsibility of managing the IT services and support is not the same as using a cloud-based customer-facing application hosted offsite.
The major differences between SaaS and Managed Services include:
- Accessibility: SaaS can be accessed from various locations. Licensed software has limited access on certain approved devices.
- Cost: Managed IT services are usually more expensive because you are paying for the use of the application plus the service of managing the application, though they have impressive capabilities.
- Security: With SaaS, users don’t always have total control over cloud data, but it is accessible from any device with an internet browser.
- Scalability: SaaS solutions are in the cloud, a scalable environment. The delivery model is flexible depending on the organization.
- Updates: Managed services have the ability to offer upgrades to the system and apply patches. SaaS models automatically update via service providers.
What are SaaS management platforms (SMPs)?
SaaS management platforms (SMPs) allow IT operations administrators to optimize the usage and security of SaaS programs. They help organizations understand the following:
Which SaaS applications are being used?
It’s critical to know what applications are currently in use. If an employee is using an application the team isn’t aware of, it could pose a security risk. It’s difficult to control security protocols if it’s not clear what applications need to be monitored as they are used.
How are they being used?
When applications are in use by employees, it’s important they are used correctly and according to the policies established by IT. IT cannot manage what they cannot see. All applications in use need to be reported and used properly.
Who has access to them?
Security is key. Role-based access control makes it easier. SMPs allow the IT team to choose who has access to what applications, providing stronger data protection.
Key features in a SaaS management platform
When searching for the best SaaS management platform, it’s important to look for a few key features to get the full value of the solution.
Centralized contract data
Handling contracts and invoices manually can be complex. SaaS management platforms help centralize contract data to make information, such as payments or auto-renewal dates, easier to find. Having a single source of data where the whole organization can see all software subscriptions in use saves teams time searching for what they need among various shared drives or spreadsheets.
Automatic discovery of subscriptions
SMPs can automatically discover all the applications and software vendors being used by your organization without the tedious process of sending emails and inquiries and hoping for accurate responses. Once the solution identifies SaaS subscriptions, it can categorize and monitor them going forward.
SaaS security features
Cloud-based security is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to SaaS management. These applications contain a lot of sensitive data that can be accessed on multiple devices, posing security risks.
Top security risks that need to be addressed include:
- Access management: Can the single access point expose private information?
- Disaster recovery: What happens to the data in the application in case of a disaster?
- Misconfigurations: Can the complexity of the system increase the chance of misconfigurations?
- Privacy and data breaches: How well can the application overcome security breaches?
- Regulatory compliance: Does the cloud service provider hold security certifications and meet data protection requirements?
- Retention: How long does the application hold on to the sensitive information entered?
- Storage: Where is all the data stored? Is the stored data encrypted?
Companies need a tool to help manage and protect sensitive data. This includes features such as controlled employee access and two-factor authentication. An efficient SMP updates the organization on vendor exploits. Users will receive security alerts if any software the organization depends on has been breached.
Tracking and insights
Most SaaS management tools provide detailed insights regarding usage. With real-time reports and analytics, it’s easier to monitor and optimize company resources.
Benefits of SMPs
The best SaaS management platform will provide the benefits listed below:
Organizations must follow strict regulations related to software and application usage for security and other concerns. Using an SMP abides by the necessary provisions and keeps the company compliant. No one at the company will use a non-compliant application with the right platform in place.
Identifying Shadow IT
Shadow IT is the use of IT-related hardware or software by someone without alerting the IT department. A reputable SMP sends notifications about new software with access to company data, whether that individual informs the team or not. Get alerts anytime a new vendor, user, or user role is detected by the SMP.
Improved data protection
As mentioned above, a reliable SMP will have security measures in place. SaaS management platforms send notifications about SaaS applications in a company’s network, and access can be terminated as needed. When it’s clear what applications are being used at a company, the risks of noncompliance or a data security breach decrease greatly.
As companies manage their SaaS budgets, it’s key to factor in an SMP as an option to reduce costs. SaaS spending shouldn’t be overlooked. A SaaS management platform identifies dormant applications and unused licenses that can be cut from business expenses. Additionally, a centralized record of all SaaS applications can help organizations identify if redundant functions are being performed.
SaaS spend management doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Relying on manual processes is tedious, but finding the right platform simplifies SaaS spend optimization and helps financial teams run more efficiently, and increases transparency. The points outlined throughout this blog will help you choose the best SaaS management platform for your organization.