As some companies opt to continue remote work after COVID-19, the complexity and expense of SaaS continues to rise. Teams that were once in-house learned to collaborate in a new way, adding software to keep everyone together virtually.

For companies who went remote for the first time, navigating contracts and renewals can feel haphazard and obscure. Even for the more mature company, increasing tech stack means more licenses, tracking, costs, and hours invested in accounting for it all. 

Reliable SaaS spend management can help organizations looking to ease into a long-term remote or hybrid work model. It can streamline the tech offering to provide more of what your employees need, and make it easier for them to explore tools and services to improve their remote experience. 

Here are a few ways to improve your remote SaaS spend management to fully support your distributed teams in doing their best work.

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To manage SaaS spend, manage communication

One important aspect of managing SaaS spend is managing the communication around how purchases are made. It’s important to every organization, but when you work across geography and time-zones, intentional, over-communication is key to success. This communication doesn’t have to be heavy-handed, but it should be consistent. Use all your remote channels, (email, Slack, etc.) to let people know how to get their needs met and expectations for new requests. 

Consistent communication is important for a few reasons. Not only are remote stakeholders exploring and requesting more helpful tools, but the decisions to buy may be made in counterpart. In distributed teams, the gap between time-zones can further extend and obscure the process.

A well-communicated buying process closes this gap, sheds light on decision-making, and helps stakeholders track the process from beginning to end. 

Good process also makes life easier for the gatekeepers. Communication keeps managers in the loop. It lets them prove the business case, help where needed, then trust the process for the rest. It reduces the management burden of chasing loose ends as teams and projects change. 

It also governs other behaviors (for instance, downloading a free app to a company device). This can reduce risk and empower employees without losing sight of your spend or security. In remote organizations, this process is especially important. In the absence of a clearly-defined workflow, remote employees may be inclined to figure things out on their own.

Use automation to thwart unintended SaaS spending

With new remote apps and contracts comes added renewals and contract management. Handling this influx of contracts from remote work apps is essential to stabilizing your SaaS spend, avoiding unwanted renewals, and ensuring that your budget for software is used effectively to support your newly remote or hybrid company. 

Two important pitfalls to address as your stack grows:

Auto-renewal

One common and costly feature of a software license is the auto-renewal clause. As your tech stack grows, there’s a lot more to keep track of, and more margin for error. Sure, service interruptions can be frustrating. But auto-renew can be a stealthy, costly budget-buster. Despite unpopularity with buyers, 69% of contracts have auto-renew clauses, according to G2.

What's more, many of these renewal clauses aren't straightforward. Clauses may include specific performance, such as 30-day advanced notice of cancellation. Others have obscure notice requirements. "Dark patterns" in contract terms may make it harder to cancel or gain recourse in the case of a missed renewal. This makes good SaaS spend management vital to your evolving organization.

Using software to manage your contract renewals process will position finance to be proactive. You’ll be able to assess the needs of your remote staff, learn through data analysis, and survey what’s working for them vs. what’s going unused. You’ll understand utilization in a new way, and fine-tune your stack to preserve the budget while keeping your team productive and connected.

Duplicate and abandoned subscriptions

When various teams put contracts in place, it’s easy to create costly redundancies. This is common even with everyone on-site, but may become more of an issue when your workforce is remote.

Purchasing conversations that might otherwise happen on a team level are now siloed to a remote conversation. With people spread out across time zones, they may be more likely to serve their own needs on-demand on a corporate card or expense report.

Without a single source of truth for teams to refer to, it can be an invisible issue. On the other hand, when your management is well organized, teams can know the preferred options even before the intake form, and finance can ensure the best price and terms while meeting employee needs. 

Abandoned subscriptions are another piece of the puzzle. When users change roles or leave, their license may survive them, possibly for years. Auto-renewal makes this especially problematic if it's charged rather than invoiced. With a SaaS management platform, off-boarding licenses become part of the separation process. This can prevent thousands in waste over time.

As remote work inspires more software, so grows the potential for missed cancellation when an employee leaves. Centralizing your spend management can address this issue. 

Improve productivity and support evolution through good SaaS spend management

When you have a clear picture of your tech stack, you can make good decisions to support your workforce.

Understanding how your teams use their tech toolkit can help you buy more of what matters, trim less-desirable solutions, and improve engagement by providing your team with tools tailored to their needs. The stack that worked for years in-house may rapidly evolve as teams shift their work style long term.

Even the new tech stack will evolve over time. What works in year one of remote may change in year three or five. With a clear understanding of the data, the changes are more visible, and course-corrections become easier to make. You’ll be able to effect change proactively and avoid staying tied to contracts or features that no longer serve your organization.

The story behind the data is important in multiple settings, where you may not get consistent user feedback. In a hybrid structure, employees may suffer in silence or get along with “good enough” options or work-arounds. 

Good SaaS spend management provides the insight to make better tech decisions over time. Your teams will have access to the right tools so they can work and collaborate effectively. When they identify new needs or business cases, they’ll have a clear process to get them met. On the finance side, you’ll be able to provide these best-in-class options while keeping spending in check.

This benefit of SaaS spend management can improve your employee experience overall, smooth the path of remote adoption, and streamline budgeting as teams adjust and evolve.

Getting a handle on SaaS management

Software spending is only going to grow as more teams and organizations go fully hybrid or remote. Growth and complexity don't need to get ahead of you, though, and changes to your stack don’t have to lag behind business needs. With consistent SaaS spend management and streamlined budgeting, a better remote work experience is within reach.

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