Managing IT in the era of SaaS proliferation can be difficult, especially since the command-and-control model of old no longer works for most companies. A Collaborative IT approach, to contrast, involves team leaders, employees, finance, HR and IT in collectively solving SaaS management challenges. Here are six of the challenges high growth companies most commonly face, and how Collaborative IT can help address them.
1. Growth Spurs a Loss of Visibility
In the earliest stages of a company, it can be relatively easy to achieve visibility into SaaS usage and spend across the organization. However, once an organization enters the “growth stage,” it tends to become inherently less sensitive to cost. In many cases, this is a point in the business’s maturity when leaders are willing to do whatever it takes to drive aggressive growth goals around revenue, user acquisition, or other benchmarks. Visibility tends to start to get lost, and spending on SaaS can grow exponentially without any real strategy behind why or how.
How to Address With Collaborative IT: When your business begins to grow aggressively, it’s a good idea to introduce a SaaS management system that provides visibility into app spend and usage. It’s simply too much for a human being to track via Excel spreadsheet, and should be monitored in an automatic and continuous fashion. This allows team members flexibility while still providing oversight.
2. Wasted Spend
At many young companies, SaaS spending runs rampant until a finance hire is made, or someone at the executive or management level discovers a trend of inefficiency. This can take the form of overlapping subscriptions, paying for more features than are being used, or buying apps before they are truly necessary.
How to Address With Collaborative IT: When the SaaS budget starts to get out of control, an honest evaluation of SaaS usage relative to need is required. In addition, SaaS vendor contracts and licenses need to be reviewed regularly to ensure there is not overlap and waste.
3. Lack of Clear Onboarding and Offboarding Processes
The reality is that most onboarding and offboarding is done on an ad hoc basis today. You might even be surprised how common this is at larger, more established organizations. Employees request access to services or credentials when they need them, rather than receiving all of the appropriate onboarding materials up-front, which slows down productivity. On the other end, the lack of a clear offboarding process increases an organization’s risk of a costly insider threat. What’s more, onboarding/offboarding responsibilities might not even be assigned to a specific person or department, so there is often not sufficient accountability.
How to Address With Collaborative IT: This is one case where a formalized approach is very helpful. You should come up with a list of activities that need to take place every time a team member joins and a separate list of offboarding action items for when employees leave. A centralized SaaS management platform can help you automate much of these processes, with the end result of decreased risk and increased employee productivity.
4. An Overly Reactive Approach to Security
Often, it’s not until a real-world security incident takes place that teams realize they need to improve their internal practices to decrease risk. Both ad hoc and nonexistent security policies can open organizations up to a whole world of vulnerabilities. On the other side of the spectrum, some organizations employ arcane security practices (like forcing users to change their passwords at regular intervals for no real reason) that are not user-friendly and are thus often skirted by employees.
How to Address With Collaborative IT: As much as possible, security should be automated. You should put guardrails in place that make it very difficult for employees to make mistakes or engage in risky behavior. This includes enforcing secure authentication and the principle of least privilege across all SaaS applications, in addition to the secure on and offboarding practices we outlined above. (Take a deeper dive into security best practices with the Blissfully Guide to SaaS Security.)
5. A Customer-Driven Compliance Imperative
Often, when organizations sell to large enterprises or businesses within highly regulated industries, they need to complete a compliance audit such as SOC 2, or adhere to privacy regulations like GDPR. This can require a complete overhaul of how IT is handled, and often it’s difficult to do it on a dime, which means either shelling out the big bucks for outside help or losing out on the business.
How to Address With Collaborative IT: As soon as you identify prospects that are likely to have major compliance requirements, it’s time to evaluate which compliance mandates you need to meet and budget (both financially and time-wise) to meet those mandates. If you undertake this process proactively, it will minimize disruption to your business and increase your odds of winning the new customer. As far as how to check all those compliance boxes, implementing a SaaS management platform can help you verify that you are meeting requirements, provide proof to regulatory bodies and auditors, and ensure that controls are upheld on a continuous basis.
6. Discovery of an Ineffective or Redundant App
Sometimes, teams wind up using multiple paid apps that have overlapping functionality. In other cases, teams are using both free, unsanctioned apps and paid, sanctioned apps that accomplish the exact same purpose. For example, a sales manager purchases videoconferencing licenses, but the individual reps are using free apps because they’re simpler or better. In some cases, paid apps can be eliminated altogether in favor of free, allowing budget to be reallocated elsewhere.
How to Address With Collaborative IT: When a successful Collaborative IT program is implemented, it means that teams choose the apps they truly want and need, while IT and finance have oversight into what is in use. It’s a good idea to plan a quarterly review meeting where team leaders walk through which apps are being used and what team members have to say about them. Look at functionality in use as well to ensure that there is not significant feature overlap, and determine if there are areas where the fat can be trimmed, either by cutting tools or downgrading functionality to decrease overlap.
For more information on Collaborative IT, check out our comprehensive Guide to Collaborative IT.