3 ways to contain SaaS sprawl and spend in a post COVID-19 world

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The ability to work from home was once a luxury. Now, it’s a necessity.

With the rapid spread of COVID-19, employees are staying home and working remotely. While some organizations are built to handle this drastic change, most are having to modify the way they operate to ensure employees can maintain productivity from their new work environments.

The result has been an upsurge in the demand and adoption of software as a service (SaaS) applications like Google Hangouts, Zoom, Google Hangouts Meet, Slack, and more. In fact, business conference apps experienced their biggest week ever March 14-21, with more than 62 million downloads. During that timeframe, Zoom and Google Hangouts Meet were downloaded 14 times and 30 times more in the U.S. than the weekly average during Q4 2019, respectively.

While going the SaaS route has allowed companies to virtually set up their employees and offer them the means to work off-premises, it also poses challenges to IT and finance departments – challenges that companies can’t afford to overlook as this trend becomes even more mainstream.

Under normal circumstances, companies would have time to build out a plan for rolling out SaaS solutions effectively and thoughtfully. IT departments would have more time to partner with finance and review SaaS spend and license usage to ensure cost efficiency and reduce waste. However, given the current climate, many companies must move faster than anticipated.

So, how can organizations ensure increased adoption of SaaS apps is working for them? By tackling the following areas head-on, your company can ensure successful deployment of new SaaS solutions and minimize wasted spend on overlapping or unused SaaS licenses.

1. Get to know your SaaS environment

Most organizations have no idea just how widespread their use of SaaS really is. So, the first step is to gain clear visibility into your SaaS utilization.

Who has access to what applications, and how are they using them? Better yet, are they taking advantage of these applications?

This task is less daunting for startups and companies born in the cloud, many of which are already SaaS-first organizations. However, daily adoption of new apps makes gaining true visibility challenging even for them. Companies with more traditional legacy environments, meanwhile, could find this more difficult, especially if they still heavily use on-prem and install-base applications.

Regardless of how far along you are in your digital transformation, don’t assume you know what applications your employees are using.

Find out for sure by auditing your SaaS environment. Even if the SaaS applications you discover aren’t sanctioned, it opens the door for a dialogue about what functionality employees actually need and what tools can deliver the best performance. Then you can work toward a larger rollout of those solutions.

Many companies start managing this process with a simple spreadsheet. But, as organizations grow beyond 200 to 300 employees or develop more complex IT environments, collaborating with a team of ITAM experts fluent in SaaS to help you implement a SaaS Management platform is often more cost-effective and sustainable in the long term.

2. Introduce education and training

Offering new tools and applications may improve your employees’ ability to work from home, but that’s assuming they’re already familiar with the solutions. That might not be the case.

Not everyone’s going to know how solutions like Zoom or Slack or Salesforce (or others) work right away. Introduce onboarding sessions so your employees can quickly acclimate to new solutions. By offering active training on approved apps, you’re less likely to see employees or teams self-select and adopt competing collaboration platforms, project management tools, and video conferencing systems they’re familiar with.

Training will also help employees utilize SaaS tools to their full potential. The value of a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Salesforce is the data. However, if your employees don’t know how to take full advantage of that data, then you’re not maximizing your investment and they’ll have a harder time doing their jobs.

Look for tools and additional resources to make this a smoother transition and be sure you’re constantly checking in and getting status updates.

Set realistic expectations and show your support. Which leads us to …

3. Align IT and business units

In today’s environment, some degree of rogue purchasing or shadow IT can be expected, as teams and individuals choose the SaaS apps they think they need to remain productive. IT and business leaders need to get ahead of this to avoid the interoperability, financial, and security implications that come with not having accurate insight into your environment.

You can’t just deploy solutions and expect everything to run smoothly. But you can ensure all your stakeholders are on the same page regarding the needs of the business.

Enable business unit leaders to take ownership of their team’s technology needs and empower them to be successful. When everyone’s working together, they’re more likely to be productive.

‘Remote’ is no longer just a remote possibility

The coronavirus pandemic has made one thing crystal clear: You need to be prepared to have your employees work remotely.

The ease of procuring, deploying, and using SaaS applications makes this possible. However, it can also lead to unnecessary and costly SaaS sprawl as teams and even individual users download apps in siloes to meet emerging needs.

For the best return on investment (ROI), organizations must have wide visibility into what SaaS applications are in use or have been purchased but are sitting idle. This not only will help you standardize and deduplicate applications; it could also yield opportunities to combine contracts and obtain price breaks for higher-volume usage. This is exactly what SHI is offering with its new SaaS Cost Optimization Services.

But a successful SaaS strategy doesn’t stop there. It requires constant communication and training for all users and stakeholders to ensure alignment. Only then will you have the insight and support needed to take control of your SaaS environment.

These are just a few of the tips that can benefit your organization. SHI and Intello hosted a webinar earlier this year that is now available on-demand below. Learn more about why your SaaS estate needs careful management and where to prioritize your governance efforts.

If you’d like to talk to someone at SHI about your SaaS Cost Optimization needs, please contact your SHI account executive or request a call back from an ITAM specialist.