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What is SaaS Management?

What is it, why does it matter, and what's next?

💡Key Points:

  • Related: What is a SaaS Management Platform (SMP) in 2023? 
  • SaaS Management is the act of discovering, managing, and taking critical actions on all your applications (both Shadow IT and sanctioned apps)
  • SaaS Management is necessary due to the distributed nature of SaaS adoption
  • IT professionals should consider a SaaS Management Platform to help them better understand and manage their SaaS portfolio

What is SaaS Management? SaaS Management is all about getting insight into your messy app ecosystem and taking action based on that insight. SaaS Management is most often used for improving the employee and application lifecycles through automation, monitoring and improving SaaS spend, discovering newly added Shadow IT apps, monitoring the usage rates across multiple similar apps, and much more. 

In this article, we'll talk more about the utility of a SaaS Management Platform as well as give some context on how we got here and where the industry is heading in the future. 

Note💡 Already a SaaS Management Master? Check out our helpful article about the emergence of Automated SaaS Management - a new and evolving subset of SaaS Management that prioritizes automation capabilities. 

Before we can address those points, I want to step back and address how we got to this point. 

How We Got Here - The SaaS Explosion

Before cloud applications, IT and Procurement would be gatekeepers for the software that entered our companies. As a result, new tools were implemented methodically, and most workers rarely participated in decision-making. Fast forward to today, and everyone with a web browser and a company email address can try, buy, and integrate cloud apps.

This is the SaaS Explosion—a tidal wave of new software bombarding our security, budgets, and efficiency. 

tidal wave of saas

This explosion in adoption has left old-fashioned processes and IT management strategies in shambles. But the explosion of SaaS didn't just impact how many apps we have; it also affected where the data for those apps reside.  

Distributed SaaS Adoption: The Good and the Bad

Today, app adoption is messy. Different users will take the initiative, try new apps, and implement them into the SaaS ecosystem.

This is good because it increases innovation and allows employees to find the best tools for their work. But, it also results in distributed application ownership and scattered app data.

Cost, contract, user, usage... all forms of data are scattered without a single place to get a complete picture, like puzzle pieces scattered throughout a house. Different teams might have part of the picture, but nobody has the whole story.

And this leads us to the need for SaaS Management.

Why Do We Need SaaS Management? 

Managing SaaS is virtually impossible without an updated strategy and the right equipment. This is where a SaaS Management Platform comes into play.

A SaaS Management Platform fills the gaps left by antiquated IT Management strategies by improving our ability to: 

But for any SaaS Management initiative to be successful, it requires the strategic expertise of the IT team. 

What Does SaaS Management Do?

SaaS Management is a new category and is still evolving. However, there are still a handful of things that SaaS Management must do to be effective.

  1. Discover app usage for both sanctioned and unsanctioned applications within your organization
  2. Centralize that data and provide actionable next steps
  3. Automate the processes that are difficult or mundane

Those all sound good, but let's look at some real-life examples of SaaS Management in action. 

Three Critical Examples of SaaS Management in Action

Combat Shadow IT

What is Shadow IT? Shadow IT is all applications used outside the view of the IT department. Since our purchasing became decentralized, this number has ballooned without IT knowing its extent. In most organizations, IT managers underestimate the number of applications by three to six times the actual number. That means that for every application an IT manager knows about, there are two to five more that they don't know about! 

How does SaaS Management help? SaaS Management includes discovery tools that show the IT department which applications the employees use - including Shadow IT apps. There are different ways to discover the apps used, and not all are equal (For example, Torii's discovery tool finds two to three times more shadow IT apps than our leading competitors).

What can you do with this information? Shadow IT carries absolute risk but can also result in your team trying out new tools. With discovery, you can identify possible threats before they break out. You'll also be able to learn which applications your teams use.

Learn how discovery with Torii shines a light on Shadow IT through a simple browser extension and finds two to three times more apps than leading SaaS Management Systems. 

Automate Onboarding and Offboarding Processes

Why Onboarding and Offboarding Matters: Millions of workers leave their current job every month and try something new. A Poor onboarding process can result in lower productivity and employee retention. Likewise, poor offboarding can result in wasted time, money, and a significant security threat when an employee leaves. (read more here)  

How does SaaS Management help? In an increasingly SaaS-centric environment, software is the new workplace. SaaS Management helps you better manage your licenses and offer employees easy access to your app portfolio, where they can see which apps are approved and quickly select the right tools for their job. Similarly, when employees leave a company, their access privileges can be automatically revoked thanks to SaaS Management. (Note - not all SaaS Management systems automate onboarding and offboarding, but it's a critical capability)

What can you do with this capability? YouFirst, you create a lasting first impression with new hires by giving them easy access to their needed tools. This increases retention and productivity. Also, let IT rest well at night, knowing that one of the most significant security threats now has an automated solution. 

Note💡 Offboarding is an extensive process with many steps. If you want to improve your strategy (and eliminate possible security risks), check out our comprehensive offboarding checklist. 


Help You Control SaaS Spend and Find Wasted Application Licenses

What are Wasted Application Licenses? Wasted is a broad term. These licenses might be unused seats, they might be duplicate tools purchased by two different departments, or they might be similar tools that overlap in capabilities. Waste becomes easy to overlook, but it bloats your expenses and weighs your company down. 

How does SaaS Management help? A SaaS Management system like Torii gives you insight into all the tools used (like mentioned above) and gives you a view of where your waste is accumulating. Find wasted licenses and wasted seats. Pick out the duplicate or overlapping tools and determine which drives your business forward. 

What does this do for the bottom line? When appropriately implemented, SaaS Spend Management with a SaaS Management system can dramatically reduce your software expenditures (one of our customers, Rock Content, saved one million dollars immediately just by finding these wasted expenses - read the case study here). However, they also give you insight into which tools are worth your money. In addition, good SaaS Management centralizes your contract information, so you eliminate surprise renewals.  

Conclusion: What Should You Do Now? 

SaaS Management is an emerging category of tools designed to help us reckon with the changes from the SaaS Explosion. But, each SaaS Management tool is a bit different. Moreover, not all devices can do all they should, especially automation and discovery. For that reason, we're seeing the growth of automation as a critical differentiator among SaaS Management Tools. 

Ready to learn more? You're in luck! Check out our latest guide examining Why automation is critical to SaaS Management. 

Get your demo today

Now you can control, manage, and save money on the SaaS being used by your company. Let us show you what Torii can do for you.