SaaS User Management: How to Track Employee SaaS Usage
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” said Peter Drucker, the father of business studies and a widely-known influential thinker on management. And we think he’s right.
When it comes to managing software-as-a-service (SaaS), you can’t optimize software usage without knowing what’s going on in your company.
Who’s using what? Do they have the proper access? Should we be using this tool? What’s our most used software? Is there something better or cheaper? These questions might be on your mind.
But before we go any further, let’s first answer the more important question.
What is SaaS user management?
SaaS user management is a data-centralizing process and tool to organize a company’s SaaS workforce information into a single source.
In other words, it allows you to manage what employees have access to certain SaaS products, all in a single view. You can also provide access to this view to anyone who needs it — be it IT, HR, Payroll, and so on.
Why SaaS user management is important
SaaS app use has increased 30% since 2018. And on average, a company uses 137 unique SaaS apps, many of them with overlapping features. This increase can lead to company workflow inefficiencies.
Moreover, software management has become decentralized. Most businesses maintain an employee and app-use list through various systems — often in the form of spreadsheets. Because these systems are not linked and don’t communicate with one another, employee and software data rarely match. In short, they don’t share a common source of truth.
If your organization only has a few hundred employees, spreadsheets are probably holding the line, but they’re not the best solution for SaaS user management. (They’re not suitable for recording relationship data, which we’ll cover later in this article.)
If you have 500–600 employees, a manual data-entry system certainly won’t meet your company’s needs. You need accurate employee- and user-data across every department. You need a SaaS user management solution.
Without a SaaS user management system — or one with a poor configuration and setup — systems can remain out of sync or take too long to sync up.
This inefficiency can create unneeded administrative work, lead to a potentially sensitive data breach, or become a compliance issue. And these same inefficiencies can open up opportunities for error — some at a cost to your company (such as duplicate apps). Most opportunities for error happen during employee onboarding (new users), offboarding (disabling user accounts), or status changes.
While SaaS has made it easier to purchase and deploy new software across teams, the following five dimensions create new, potentially hidden problems and inefficiencies:
- Role: A role determines a user’s access to SaaS apps. Typical roles include IT admin, contract owner, billing recipient, and user.
- License: A license can be free or paid. Paid licenses can sometimes be tiered.
- Usage: If a SaaS solution’s cost is usage-based, usage can affect a license tier. The more employees use an app, the more it costs.
- Data: In addition to needing to meet security and compliance standards, data can be created, generated, and delegated by SaaS apps.
- Vendor status: A vendor’s status can be in one of four phases: exploratory (think free trial), unsanctioned (rogue software purchases), sanctioned (approved apps), and deprecated (unused app but not yet canceled).
A SaaS user management solution can help manage these dimensions and the inefficiencies they can produce.
Benefits of a SaaS user management solution
With a proper SaaS user management platform, all of your systems and software solutions update in real-time. Having a management platform in place that collects, stores, and organizes all of your company’s user and software data reduces opportunities for error, saving your company time and money.
The most important function a SaaS user management solution provides is maintaining a SaaS system of record. A SaaS system of record is a shared common source of truth for your company’s departments. This shared, collaborative approach provides a single system of employee and software data to many teams.
With a SaaS system of record in place:
- Your finance department can keep the budget in check.
- HR can ensure your employees have the right access to the right tools at the right time.
- IT can secure access control and privileges through identity authentication.
- Leaders can get the apps they need to meet your teams’ goals.
How SaaS user management works
Understanding how SaaS user management works is understanding the relationship between your people and your SaaS applications. Each relationship is a potential point of security vulnerability or inefficiency, made complex by the number of people and applications introduced — from new applications to provisioning new software.
We call this relationship The Saas Graph.
A collaborative IT approach brings your organization’s key stakeholders into the process of SaaS management. Despite having differing priorities, team leaders, finance, HR, operations, security, and IT departments ensure that each SaaS Graph relationship is valid and up-to-date.
The seemingly complex shift of responsibility from an IT command center approach to a shared one is simplified by gathering your teams around a single system of record, in which each team has a vested interest based on their priorities.
SaaS user management best practices
If you’re implementing your own SaaS user management solution, here are some tips to get the most out of your systems.
- Audit your current tools. Establish a baseline of what tools are in your stack.
- Track software renewals. Find out what software is due to renew and when.
- Track software usage. Find out if you’re getting the most from your software or if employees are using essential software enough. For maximum visibility, use single sign-on (SSO) identity management with multi-tenancy support through a cloud identity provider to get a better overview of software use.
- Watch for new software. Keep an eye out for new solutions that could replace one or more components of your software stack with the same functionality but at a lower cost.
- Apply automation. Use tools to automate your workflow and process to save time.
- Provide a positive user experience. Key stakeholders will buy-in to a new workflow if they can access a web app with an easy-to-use front-end design.
How Vendr can help
Simply put, with Vendr + SaaS management, you can track your apps and vendors and save money. Here’s what else you can do with SaaS Management:
- Automatically discover apps used throughout the entire company through our various integrations, like API.
- Benchmark your SaaS-spend and app-usage based on your company’s stage with data from thousands of companies. Think of it as “software measuring.”
- Track your vendor-spend over time by team and department and identify any important trends.
- Understand employee tool adoption and usage to make informed purchase and renewal decisions.
- With OneLogin™, you get a cloud-based identity access management (IAM) providing end-users a secure SSO portal to access all their applications from any device, in the cloud, and on-premises.