As the pandemic forced companies to grapple with a completely remote workforce, the necessity and volume of software-as-a service (SaaS) applications increased dramatically, with companies scrambling to streamline and manage a more diffuse and dispersed staff. Gartner estimates that $102 billion was spent on SaaS applications in 2020, but nearly 30 percent of that spending went unused. In order to combat this bloat, business technology professionals should have a concise plan of SaaS management and maintenance. Matterport’s Head of IT William Che chimed in to help break down best practices for such management.
Understanding stages of business development
In order to create a concrete SaaS management plan, you should first understand what stage your business partners are in. Che presented several models, highlighting specifically the Tuckman stages of development (forming-storming-norming-performing) and Avigdor Luttinger’s three stage model (comfort zone-enlightenment-reassessment).
In the initial development stages, companies are often purely focused on growth, and in the process accumulate a number of SaaS apps in order to help them grow. It is during the middle stages of development, when companies begin to rethink their roster of SaaS apps, that BT professionals can start to work toward a robust management plan, one that is executed during the norming and re-assessment stages of development.
How to reassess and normalize SaaS management protocols
During the norming/re-assessment stages, Che says, BT professionals should first form steering committees focused on any number of functions, from HR to sales and finance. These steering committees will both encourage communication of needs and create a process for transparency. They should next identify what Che calls “anchor apps,” which are the most mature and well-implemented services, and which tend to resemble platforms in their wide range of uses. In identifying these anchor apps, BT professionals can both expand those anchor’s usability through modules and plug-ins and also understand which other applications are less necessary.
This leads to the next step, which is identifying which smaller apps can be excised from the company’s budget while still maintaining operations and reporting. “80 to 90 percent of the time, owners of small apps will say they can do without them,” Che said. He stressed the importance of ownership and initiative when it comes to SaaS utilization. If a given SaaS app is an anchor, it is critical that the owner understands its expanded benefits and new features, keeps track of renewals, and converses with subject matter experts as well as business partners on changing possibilities and obligations.
Integration and automation
Another important aspect of SaaS management is integrating the systems you have in place to increase their power and reduce manual tasks associated with processes like data reconiciliation. Properly integrated systems also open the door for automation opportunities to increase efficiency and productivity.
Che’s advice when it comes to integration is to take advantage of integration platform as a service (iPaaS) platforms when available and avoid diving too deep into custom integrations—if you create an integration system out of “sticks and bubblegum,” says Che, you’ll be vulnerable to unexpected API changes, custom code that lives in just one employee’s mind, and other vulnerabilities that can break integrations. SaaS management best practices are constantly changing to keep up with the constantly increasing offerings, but by keeping Che’s framework in mind, BT professionals can scale their SaaS ecosystem with more confidence.