3 ways to manage SaaS spend in times of austerity
Nov 30 | 5 mins read
Topics: IT Operations, IT Strategy, SaaS Optimization
I’ll skip the predictions about the global economic outlook. Like many people making such predictions, I would be totally unqualified to make them. What is clear, though, is that layoffs are a well publicized reality among many of the the companies we talk to. In general, we see that small-to-medium-sized technology companies face the greatest challenges in this regard, and particularly those who are dependent on external funding. Many who were focusing on relentless growth until very recently are now beginning to look inwards to the bottom line, requiring significant changes to the business strategy. The good news is that reducing headcount is not the only antidote to slowing growth. In many cases, the IT team can take immediate action to reduce technology costs, which - in some cases - may literally be a lifeline for the business. The question is, how? One obvious way is to target inherent inefficiencies and wastage in technology spend, many of which are typically overlooked during the good times. As well as delivering significant cost savings, these kinds of targeted initiatives ensure that essential technologies and services are maintained - avoiding knee-jerk cost saving initiatives that can ultimately damage the business. When it comes to taking action to reduce wasted spend, SaaS management can be a key ally. Here are three practical ways you can manage SaaS costs, improve efficiencies and help your organization prepare for tougher times.
1. Optimize SaaS expenditure
During the good times it can be easier to just ‘birthright’ SaaS licenses to entire teams or indeed all new employees. Similarly, when the whole organization is focused on growth, there may not be anyone tasked with asking if those extra 100 Asana licenses are really needed, or even if the ones we bought last quarter are actually being used.
We’ve seen a lot of SaaS app engagement and utilization data and perhaps it won’t shock you to hear that even with very generous definitions of ‘inactivity’, it’s common to find that a minimum of 15% of your licenses are probably not being utilized.
How much could you save?
Apps like Zoom, Monday.com, Miro, Box, DocuSign etc. are licensed on a per-user basis so each one of those unused seats represents wasted spend. Imagine if you could reduce even 15% of your technology spend on core business apps without impacting any active users.
Optimization requires visibility into your license entitlements and utilization. Trelica combines data from your Identity Provider, finance tool and directly from your business applications to give you a clear overview of your SaaS licenses, usage and costs.
The next step is to try and reclaim those wasted licenses. Trelica can automate the process of contacting users so you’re engaging with them in advance of removing licenses and giving them an opportunity to opt-out. Workflows can also automate the deprovisioning or downgrading of users.
2. Maximize your existing SaaS investments
When IT budgets are tightening, you want to make sure you’re getting the best possible return on the core apps you’re investing in most heavily.
Fragmented and overlapping application SaaS app usage is bad for productivity and cost-efficiency. This is notably prevalent in certain application categories, with the most notorious being project management, file sharing and diagramming / whiteboarding.
Identify, engage and facilitate
Identifying overlapping usage is the first step to maximizing ROI on your existing SaaS spend.
The next step is engaging with users to understand their behavior so you can either a) redirect them to preferred tools, or b) formally onboard the overlapping app either as a replacement to the currently preferred tool or as an alternative with a distinct business case and user base.
In our experience, much of the fragmentation that undermines your ROI on preferred apps is down to simple lack of awareness. Taking a step back, the best way to drive people to your preferred SaaS apps and avoid fragmentation in the first place is to make it easy for all employees to find and access their approved tools via an app catalog.
3. Automate your IT operations
Managing SaaS expenditure represents the IT team’s greatest potential contribution to navigating leaner times and avoiding unnecessary layoffs. However, people leaving the business is a reality in both the good and the bad times. Whilst there’s a significant human impact to these decisions, there are also very specific technical repercussions that land squarely with the IT team.
Whilst your Identity Provider might help you remove access for termed employees, that’s not going to remove the user account (and license) in the SaaS app unless you’re lucky enough to have SCIM available and configured – which at best will be a subset of your managed applications. You need a systematic and auditable process to ensure access to, and accounts in, core business apps are removed for leavers.
What about apps not being accessed via formal SSO? The average employee will be accessing around 50 applications, the majority of which will be via OAuth / OIDC using their Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 accounts (aka, ‘social sign in’). These OAuth tokens and the resulting access can survive for days, weeks or even months.
Trelica can help
Trelica sits alongside your Identity Provider(s) to fill gaps and act as a safety net. From simply removing access and licenses for termed employees, down to removing all active OAuth tokens and even redirecting emails and stored files to line managers.
Great… but how do I build a business case?
Get a Trelica trial going using the link below 👇. There’s no annoying sales rep to work through to get your account set-up and connected to your existing apps. Without cost or commitment, we can use your data to help identify wasted spend, overlapping app use and even run a proof of concept for an employee offboarding workflow.
You can either work through the trial on your own or we will happily put our time in to help pull together the findings so you can share with your colleagues. No pushy sales reps, just focused conversations with people that know the Trelica product and who are passionate about helping IT teams win with SaaS management.