SaaS Vendor Management for IT Teams

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SaaS Vendor Management for IT Teams

Today, organizations have thousands of cloud-based apps available that they can leverage to meet business needs. SaaS vendors have made it easier than ever for companies to implement tech solutions with more speed and at a much lower cost.

But this has brought its own set of challenges, especially for IT departments who have to manage access and deployment for these apps while upholding security standards in the age of increased data management, risk, and need for compliance.

As vendors add up, SaaS sprawl can feel like trying to rein in a circus. This article can help IT SaaS Vendor Management.

Who controls the process of choosing SaaS vendors? How can organization-wide SaaS usage be monitored and optimized? Where should SaaS-related workflows be created and tracked? How can security and compliance be maintained?

Enter SaaS vendor management, the solution for IT teams hoping to streamline and optimize their SaaS tools and combat SaaS sprawl.

Why managing SaaS solutions is challenging for IT departments

The double-edged sword of SaaS is how easy tools are to implement. Yes, the time to find and deploy a solution for business problems is much shorter, but now employees can also sign up for apps as quickly as they can order a new stapler. It takes little more than access to a company card. And this can be a headache for IT teams.

HR, Finance, Operations, etc. — each department has a network of SaaS apps to contribute to business objectives. It’s hard enough in smaller organizations, but for medium to large IT departments who might have to manage SaaS use across many large departments and, possibly, borders, this can be a nightmare. Research shows that the average mid-sized company has over 100 SaaS apps in use!

The result is that IT departments now face several new challenges, including:

  • Low visibility on the SaaS applications being used (and going unused)
  • Difficulty granting and revoking access to employees for multiple apps and platforms
  • Trouble keeping track of numerous SaaS vendor contracts and renewals
  • Security risks from unauthorized apps

What is SaaS vendor management?

SaaS vendor management — the solution for IT departments who want to keep a handle on what, when, how, and where SaaS applications are being used across the organization and maintain visibility for all their SaaS vendors and solutions.

SaaS vendor management solutions have many benefits, including:

  • Centralizing all information about your vendors in one place
  • Tracking and storing all relevant contract and license renewal information
  • Giving visibility on the vendors that you use the most and least
  • Allowing managing and tracking of all vendor compliance information
  • Creating workflows to manage vendor interactions and processes

SaaS and security: Minimizing your IT risks

One of the biggest concerns when it comes to SaaS is the security risks it can open up your organization to. Sure, your company no longer has to manage and store all the data on its own servers, but this means third-party data processors have access to company data and possibly sensitive information. Each of these access points presents a potential security risk, and mitigating these risks is a tough job for IT teams.

And there are internal threats too. Employees routinely try out their own unauthorized SaaS solutions, adding another layer of risk, and augmenting the difficulties of IT governance. And with the dynamic nature of companies today, employees are constantly on the move. When employees leave, IT teams must ensure that they no longer have access to tools and information that they shouldn’t. If you’re not prepared, you might end up blindsided by a security breach.

Compliance is critical

With numerous regulations and security frameworks that IT departments must adhere to SaaS poses a challenge. For example, in May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. The new laws meant stricter rules for organizations that do business within Europe or with European clients about how they can acquire, process, and store data.

Other compliance guidelines such as SOC 2 and the upcoming California Consumer Privacy Act further complicate the picture.

There are significant consequences for companies that don’t remain compliant, including a potentially hefty fine equal to 20 million or 4% of annual turnover. As a part of GDPR, organizations are required to know where and how third-party vendors are processing their data. But this can be hard for IT teams facing the challenge of mounting apps and vendor relationships to track, manage, and secure.

When it comes to SaaS, it’s crucial for IT departments to:

Get control — regulate SaaS access, permissions, and processes

Create clear, well-documented relationships with vendors to understand how your data is being processed, stored, and managed. Have a simple system for granting and revoking access for the people who need it and those who don’t.

Get visibility — see how Saas applications are being used and by whom

Don’t let shadow SaaS erode your organization’s security protocols and budgets. Keep an eye on how SaaS applications are being used across departments. You can’t control what you can’t see, and you can’t afford to let blind spots put your company at risk.

Get organized — manage all SaaS solutions from one centralized location

Audit all changes for ease of reporting to the right regulatory bodies. Compliance within major privacy and security frameworks — including ISO 27001 and SOC 2 — requires you to have a deep understanding of who all your third-party vendors are and what risks you are exposed to. Keep all that information organized and centralized, along with your permissions and controls.

How can IT departments battle SaaS sprawl?

IT departments can take several steps to make the sourcing, deployment, and managing of SaaS applications more manageable.

Step 1: Make a Plan

Create an organizational SaaS framework that governs how vendors are selected and added to the SaaS stack. Allow employees to make recommendations for apps, but set up a well-defined process of vetting and approval.

Step 2: Clear the Clutter

Eliminate wasteful shadow SaaS by regularly auditing how apps are being used and performing. We live in the age of data and optimization — gone are the days of throwing money at solutions needlessly without measuring ROI.

Step 3: Automate Key Processes

Automate routine actions related to SaaS onboarding and offboarding, approvals, requests, and terminations.

Once you’ve developed your processes, you need to institute them in an easily repeatable way. Create workflows for product vetting, approvals, granting permissions, connections with key decision-makers, renewals, and terminations. Set up alerts for when renewals are close so you can prepare and make informed decisions about which contracts to continue.

You can stay ahead of the proliferation of SaaS within your company by putting the right systems in place. It all comes down to managing your network of vendors in a way that makes sense for your organization’s goals and makes the best use of your resources.

What to look for in a SaaS vendor management solution

A solution for managing your vendors means oversight on all your SaaS apps, but that’s only half the battle. You need a solution that delivers all these basics that you need.

Some of the critical things you’ll want to make sure your SaaS vendor management platform does include:

  • Helping you and your team choose the right tools for your needs
  • Giving insight into vendor compliance for GDPR and other privacy and data regulations
  • Automating routine actions with workflows, saving time and money
  • Improving your SaaS vendor contract and renewal management
  • Recording your SaaS processes and changes for audits like SOC 2

Using Blissfully for SaaS vendor management

Blissfully helps IT departments gain visibility and control of their company’s SaaS tools with one comprehensive solution. Create workflows to simplify employee onboarding and offboarding, increase security with a centralized overview of your apps and data, and track and optimize SaaS contracts, renewals, and spend.

Get a Demo of Blissfully