Vendor approvals can be time-and-energy consuming if you don’t have a well defined process from the very start. Here’s a brief SaaS vendor approval checklist that will help guide your process and make sure you’re getting the best price, maintaining data security, and keeping necessary records as you bring a new vendor and product on board.

1. Identify The Need

  • Before searching for a solution, involve all stakeholders to identify your problem. Begin your search with complete information knowing exactly what features you need.
  • If this is a larger project or organization, you might consider creating an RFP (Request for Proposal) to circulate to potential vendors.

2. Review Your Current Vendors

  • Determine if existing tools in your organization meet the needs of this project. SaaS tools are constantly updated and have features added and retooled. You should be keeping an app inventory, but even so, your toolset has almost certainly gained new functionality since your last update. Determine if there are features/functionalities you aren’t yet using that could solve your issue.

3. Understand The Landscape

  • Identify competitors, explore review sites, expert reports, and consult peers to identify alternative products. Once you understand the alternatives, you can make sure you are selecting the right vendor for this project.

4. Review Privacy Policy Terms & Conditions

  • Once you’ve selected the right vendor, review the vendor’s Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. Links to these should be available on the vendor’s page and/or in your communications with the vendor. You want to make sure there’s no surprise data exposure.
  • Responsibility: IT Lead

5. Negotiate Pricing and Terms

  • Review key terms and pricing to negotiate accordingly. Make sure to be aware of the number of licenses needed, the level of customer service you’ll require, and whether you want an annual or monthly license. Typically, an annual SaaS subscription will be 10-25% cheaper than a monthly plan.
  • Responsibility: Finance

6. Establish Internal Relationship Owner for this Vendor

  • Confirm who the vendor’s internal owner will be, and confirm their proposed use case. Having internal ownership of a vendor is important for tracking documentation and responsibilities.
  • Responsibility: In many cases IT or Team Lead, but varies by organization.

7. Conduct a Security Assessment

  • A best practice in the age of SaaS is to make sure to review the security of key vendors up front. In the rare case this vendor doesn’t have access to anything sensitive, then you can skip this step. Otherwise you’ll want to get documentation on what security processes, certifications, and/or attestations your vendor has, particularly as it relates to your internal or regulatory compliance.
  • Responsibility: IT Lead

8. Approve Annual Budget

  • Review the contract and pricing for this vendor. Determine what department is responsible for budgeting the tool. Is approval from a higher management level or the financial team needed? Update any necessary budgets or financial plans accordingly.
  • Responsibility: Team Lead, Finance

9. Review Compliance

  • Consider how this software will fit into your existing data and/or regulatory compliance needs. For SOC 2, you’ll need the vendor’s SOC 2 report, or a questionnaire that captures the same information. If you are GDPR compliant, you’ll need to sign a DPA and update your subprocessor list and notify any key customers of the change.

10. Review and Sign Contract

  • Read, review, and sign the contract. If you have a legal team, they will be involved in this step. This is the last chance for any red-line changes. Make sure to keep a copy of the executed contract for your records.
  • Responsibility: Ownership, Legal.

11. Record Key Vendor Metadata

  • Add your new product into your app inventory, and record key metadata about this product. You will want to have a documented record of:
    1. Renewal date
    2. Business Owner
    3. IT Admin
    4. Contract
    5. Compliance and security documentation
    6. Key Documents
    7. Any important notes
  • If you’re using a spreadsheet to track this information, it can quickly become out of date and burdensome to maintain. A SaaS management platform will give you automated vendor approval workflows and help track key information for the many vendors your organization uses.

Using this checklist will give you a quick handle on your SaaS vendor approval process and help you onboard new tools faster. As your software stack grows, you’ll want to consider SaaS management to keep all your tools visible, integrated, and secure, and Blissfully can help with that and more.

If you found this checklist helpful, be sure to check out our Vendor Renewal Checklist and our SaaS Provisioning Checklist as well.

To see how Blissfully can help you, schedule a demo today.

To learn more about SaaS Management, read our comprehensive SaaS Management Guide.