6 Steps for Getting (and Keeping) Your Company’s SaaS Stack Under Control
SaaS is awesome, but it's also everywhere. Spreading, both in the open and in the shadows— outside of IT's knowledge. While it's exciting, IT still needs some basic oversight and control
Related: Learn how IT can administer apps outside their control
Whether you are facing pressure to trim costs, close security gaps, or you simply want to get a handle on the state of your SaaS ecosystem, you need some help. shadow IT stands in your way. But, with the right steps, and with the help of a SaaS management app (also called a SaaS Management Platform—SMP) you can pull your SaaS stack into the light of day and make thoughtful—informed decisions on a continuous basis.
Here are six ways you can get your SaaS apps under control with the help of an SMP:
1. Create a dynamically updated SaaS Inventory of all business apps in use
To start making sense of how your company uses SaaS, you need to have a proper inventory of all the apps that are in use. Start by creating a comprehensive and updated inventory of apps, including details like who uses the app and for what purpose, the number of subscriptions, their tiers and lengths, costs, contracts, and legal and compliance information.
This may mean performing software surveys, app discovery, and system audits and with no SaaS management solution, quite a lot of manual work. You can use a SaaS management service that performs many of these tasks automatically – and that refreshes the audit in real-time, based on actual app use. Knowing the apps you’re dealing with is the first step in designing and implementing the right processes for your IT infrastructure.
Learn more about Torii's custom application fields give you a flexible and automated SaaS System of Record.
2. Review and vet SaaS apps
SaaS adoption is inevitable these days. Some 83 percent of enterprise workloads are predicted to take place in the cloud this year. Considering the latest SaaS apps often quickly become key tools to certain business roles, it’s highly likely that new apps will continue to be added to your stack.
But to ensure that your company’s SaaS adoption doesn’t spiral out of control, you must set up a proper review and vetting process for each newly adopted app. Consider factors such as feature sets, security, permission controls and ease of integration.
You’ll also want to check if these apps are compliant with regulations that cover your company and your customers. You don’t want to be exposed to potential fines, litigation and brand reputation damage just because you’ve given non-compliant software products permission to handle your customers’ sensitive data.
3. Give Application Owners true ownership
Among the reasons why companies eventually run into the problem of shadow IT and app stack bloat is users’ inclination to experiment with technology. Tech-savvy millennials now dominate the workplace, and 71 percent of them admit to using unapproved apps at least a few times a year. So, when trying to make sense of your SaaS inventory, involve your line-of-business users in the discussion.
To truly add value to organizations, IT teams need to empower line-of-business users rather than simply trying to stop them from doing harm. To do this, you’ll need to understand the rationales behind their preferences. While you may gain an appreciation of their thought process, it’s also crucial for you to let them understand the impact that their use can have on your company, especially the risks associated with shadow IT.
Better yet, assign specific team members as “owners” of each SaaS app. Allow them to become the champions of their selected apps and serve as the links or liaisons between IT and end users.
Learn more about Torii's designated Application Owner roles so IT can keep visibility and delegate tasks with ease.
4. Automate your SaaS product adoption processes
If your SaaS product evaluations are going to be reactive, at least you can minimize errors and lag times by automating as many aspects of the process as possible. For example, SaaS management platforms can already perform discovery and monitoring of SaaS app use. They can securely collect information concerning all SaaS activity within your network.
Monitoring tools can also be configured to automatically send notifications to administrators should anything require human attention. You can be notified if an app has become dormant, indicating that it may be an abandoned account and its license should be terminated. Even more crucial, you can be notified if an app you discontinued starts being used again.
You can also use custom triggers to deploy questionnaires and queue up evaluations that help managers make informed decisions. This way, all concerns can be readily addressed.
Learn more about Torii's nine unique triggers for no-code workflows
5. Automate user onboarding and offboarding
It’s important that your employees know how to use your apps properly. Connecting people with the apps they should be using allows for a quick onboarding process and shortens their ramp-up time.
Offboarding users is equally vital. Overlooking security precautions when an employee leaves your company can be a major risk. Make sure that they have properly turned over all work data. Revoke their access credentials with just a few clicks as soon as they leave the company.
Get your new staff up and running as soon as possible, and ensure that no unauthorized users linger within your network. This also allows you to make sure unused apps and subscriptions are readily deprovisioned.
6. Consolidate and optimize licenses
Sometimes, SaaS app choice can boil down to personal preferences, leading users to acquire multiple apps that support similar functionalities. This can lead to collaboration silos and redundancies in your app stack, a bad way to burn through your software budget.
You can avoid this trap by establishing a unique company application catalog so users can self-serve and request new apps in a sanctioned way. Determine which apps are safest and fit in best with the rest of the stack, truly adding value to your company’s work. Make sure you understand how each department benefits from these apps. Reconcile these parameters with the frequency of use and subscription costs, and look out for use case overlaps when new products are added to the mix.
What’s more, having access to an updated list of renewal dates gives you ample time to renegotiate terms or migrate from one platform to another as necessary. Having a streamlined stack allows you to get the most out of your SaaS spending.
The use of unauthorized or redundant apps exposes your organization to various risks. Comprehensive visibility and understanding of your app stack is key so that you can better monitor user activity, manage access controls and inventory, and implement policies that are tailored to the needs of your IT infrastructure. Ultimately, taking the necessary measures to properly manage your app stack will enable you to maximize the value of your apps and improve efficiencies in your organization.
A shorter version of this article previously appeared in Forbes.
Uri Nativ has over 19 years of software engineering experience as both an engineer and a hands-on manager. He founded the Klarna Engineering center in Tel-Aviv, holding the position of VP Engineering & Site Manager. Uri has broad experience building B2B enterprise products from his days at VMWare, EMC, nLayers, and Sanctum.