Ditch the Spreadsheet: A Smarter Way for SaaS Subscription Management
Did you know that the average mid-size business uses 137 SaaS applications?
Yet, despite those high numbers, most businesses still track their SaaS app usage with an Excel or Google spreadsheet. If you’re one of them, you probably know how unwieldy and inefficient this can be. Yet most companies feel this is their only option for SaaS subscription management, especially for those tools with recurring billing and various subscription plans.
In this post, we take a deeper look at why tracking internal SaaS usage with a spreadsheet isn’t the way to go. We’ll also offer a more effective approach for your SaaS subscription management.
SaaS Subscription Management
SaaS subscription management refers to how businesses track and manage any SaaS subscriptions used throughout their teams. These tools include software for marketing automation (HubSpot), sales management (Salesforce), IT (TriNet), business operations (1Password), finance (Stripe), and more.
With so many SaaS tools in play today, it’s important to have a SaaS subscription management system in place—regardless of your business model or the size of your company. What elements go into this system? Keep reading.
Note: SaaS subscription management also refers to how subscription-based SaaS companies manage and optimize their customers’ subscriptions for recurring revenue. Popular solutions for this system include Chargify, FastSpring, and Chargebee. However, for the purpose of this article, we’re referring to the former definition of the term.
Elements of SaaS Subscription Management
Before we dive in, it’s worth stating that a spreadsheet is better than nothing. An imperfect SaaS subscription management system is much better than none at all, so if that’s where you are today, know that you are still moving in the right direction. The first step is recognizing the importance of tracking your SaaS billing cycles, usage, and churn.
Now, let’s take a look at what goes into SaaS subscription management and examine why the spreadsheet approach isn’t the best fit.
1. Ever-Changing Subscriptions
Spreadsheets are hard to manage, especially in the context of SaaS subscription management. For one, SaaS apps are constantly rotating in and out of organizations.
This is normal — part of the value of cloud apps is that they’re easy to spin up or down based on what your team needs. But this also means that your SaaS likely has different usage metrics, add-ons, payment methods, subscribers, functionality, and subscription billing rules.
Using a spreadsheet for SaaS subscription management requires you to continually check in with your team about whether they have changed or altered any of these details. Inevitably, something falls through the cracks and doesn’t make it to the spreadsheet.
It’s hard — if not impossible — to stay on top of the ever-changing rotation of SaaS subscriptions in any given organization, at least if you’re trying to do it manually.
2. Ownership and Update Frequency
Keeping a SaaS spreadsheet up to-to-date could easily absorb one person’s job — that’s how tedious it can be.
There are a lot of factors to consider for SaaS subscription management, including:
- Number of subscriptions or apps from each vendor
- Number of seats per app
- Cost per month or year
- Average app lifecycle within your organization
- ROI and internal employee app retention
- Renewal dates and cancellation rules
- Invoicing details and ownership (all the way down to who’s credit card is used)
- Compliance status
- Employee onboarding and offboarding processes
- Security and privacy
It’s almost certainly too much for one person. Yet, if managing your SaaS subscriptions in a spreadsheet is delegated across multiple team members, responsibility can become confusing and updates may fall through the cracks.
As far as the mechanics of remembering to update the spreadsheet, teams could set calendar reminders to do this, but at what frequency? It’s not a rote or predictable task, since (as we mentioned earlier), subscriptions change all the time.
For these reasons, even the most organized person or company will struggle to keep manual spreadsheets completely up to date.
3. Human Error
Finally, spreadsheets — due to their manual nature — are naturally error-prone.
Whether it’s a mistyped line item or a small change that happened without notification (like a seat being added or a price increase from the vendor), these documents quickly become full of small mistakes that ultimately build an inaccurate picture of your SaaS landscape.
A Better Way Forward: SaaS Management with Vendr
Rather than manually maintaining a spreadsheet of your SaaS subscriptions, we recommend you invest in a SaaS management platform.
A platform like this provides an all-in-one solution to view invoices, manage renewals, configure approval workflows, monitor compliance, and track SaaS user management.
In one place, you can view all of your SaaS apps, who’s using them, and how much you’re spending on them.
Here’s what that looks like with Vendr:
As you can see, a SaaS subscription management software allows you to track all your vendors and the number of subscriptions from each (since you may have different apps or multiple of the same app for different teams.)
At a glance, you can see how much you’re spending annually and when subscriptions are set to renew. Moreover, you can track any upsells or downgrades and how that impacts your overall payment processing.
Additionally, responsibility is clear because you can assign an owner to each vendor. If HR or Finance has a question about how a particular program is being used, what it takes to onboard a new team member, or why the bill for AdWords is so high this month, they will know exactly who to go to for answers.
If your organization follows compliance or legal frameworks like GDPR or SOC 2, a SaaS management tool will also let you verify that you’ve only invested in tools that are also compliant with those regulations and requirements. This reduces your organizational risk and saves time and headaches when you have audits.
Say Goodbye to SaaS Spreadsheets Once and For All
Replace your dreaded SaaS spreadsheet. Use one platform to view invoices, manage renewals, automate ownership, create approval workflows, and track compliance. See all of your SaaS apps, who’s using them, and how much you’re spending on them.