Whether an organization is looking to optimize spend, manage the adoption and administration lifecycle, or streamline and automate use of its major platforms, managing SaaS today is a complex undertaking.
Toward that end, Forrester has released its Now Tech: Software-as-a-Service Operations Solutions, Q3 2021 report to jump-start the process of tackling overgrown SaaS ecosystems by providing an overview of the SaaS management (SM) solutions available today.
Forrester recently reported that global SaaS consumption has reached a massive $500 billion – yes, that's half a trillion dollars – encompassing enterprises of various sizes.
In fact, SaaS comprises the entire software functionality in many emerging enterprises, according to the report, contributing to SaaS “sprawl” in the form of underutilized licenses, elevated security and audit risk, and needlessly bloated budgets.
Forrester believes the emerging SaaS operations solutions can help enterprises of various sizes manage their SaaS subscriptions and key supporting processes. Activities that were once done manually can now be simplified thanks to dedicated and automated SaaS management features.
LeanIX sees that organizations implementing SM platforms have never implemented a SM platform, are using an underperforming SM system, or own a legacy software asset management platform.
But most companies are still far away from taking advantage of the full benefits of SM.
This post offers LeanIX’s overview of how companies in all three SaaS categories identified by Forrester can chart a path to success in their SM journey – and meet their organization’s goals by selecting from an array of solutions with diverse functionality.
"Optimizing spending for the SaaS portfolio"
The primary SM objective is to lower software subscription costs by rationalizing spending. This is made possible by making SaaS usage “visible” and uncovering “shadow IT” purchased outside the purview of the IT department, excess spending, and suboptimal usage. The result is improved reporting and cost accountability, the removal of overlapping services, and scaled and downsized subscriptions.
The discovery process works by “following the money,” integrating with financial systems and uncovering the widest part of their SaaS portfolio across ERP, expense management, SSO and HR systems, and SaaS management. SM integration starts with the largest areas of presumed spend to drive the fastest ROI – including enterprise-wide applications like Microsoft 365, Salesforce CRM, Slack, and Zoom (whose owners and admins are often well defined) – and later conducts target discovery more narrowly.
"Managing the SaaS estate across the full lifecycle"
Salespeople usually make it easy to trial and deploy their software, leaving ongoing SaaS management – scaling up and down as needed – up to the buyer. The SM solution addresses this situation by providing a clear window into SaaS usage across the organization to determine which applications are needed, which aren’t, and what data is needed to maximize core SaaS.
The SM platform delivers ongoing metrics for success that help eliminate undue risk – for example, metadata such as name, version, lifecycle phases and more – to help get rid of unsupported applications. Equipped with up-to-date lifecycle data, the organization can spot soon-to-be-outdated assets swiftly and plan accordingly.
"Simplifying and automating administration of the major SaaS platforms"
Moving beyond manual management to continuous monitoring, the automated and integrated SM platform is the only way to eliminate "shadow IT" while providing the solutions that the business needs. SM has an always-on dashboard of information that allows the company to manage automate SaaS inventory on one platform – from discovery to rationalization – to prevent overcharges, engage in contract negotiations, and adhere to privacy compliance laws.
Web-browser plugins and integration with single sign-on tools and cloud access security broker (CASB) solutions provide key insights. But a comprehensive picture of SaaS spend emerges through expense monitoring – such as user requests for personal credit card purchase reimbursements made on personal devices – that don’t appear in CASB tool reporting.
The SM bottom line
The goal of SM isn’t discovery that results in IT taking back all SaaS purchasing responsibilities – rather, it’s to develop a full picture of SaaS from a cost-management, security, and compliance standpoint to guide purchases, utilization, and application sunsetting. It’s the complete picture.
Learn more about SM challenges and solutions by reading LeanIX’s SaaS Management: The definitive guide for IT and finance leaders.