Optimising SaaS: 20 tips to ensuring maximum value

Optimising SaaS: 20 tips to ensuring maximum value

It’s easy to lose track of how many SaaS apps you have, whether they’re the right options, and whether you’re spending more than you need to.

Published on 18th January 2024

Leveraging software as a service options provides an easy way to ensure your team has proven digital tools to effectively and efficiently do their work. With feedback provided by a broad pool of users and maintenance, security and updates being primarily managed by the provider, company leaders can be confident their internal software is on par with their competitors’.

However, the ease and convenience of adopting SaaS tools can be a double-edged sword: Without careful oversight, it’s easy to lose track of how many apps are in use, whether they’re really the optimal options for your team, and whether you’re spending more than you think (or need to). Below, 20 members of Forbes Technology Council share tips to help leaders ensure their companies are achieving maximum efficiency and value through their SaaS usage.

1. Make Sure You’re Monitoring All Apps In Use

Companies usually have adequate policies powered by identity platforms to grant and remove access to SaaS apps when employees join and leave the company or when they change roles. However, tools that are not “birthright” apps can fall outside of those policies. Also, most organizations don’t consider how an app is being used or pull back or downgrade to a different license based on actual use.

2. Integrate Tools Deeply And Intelligently

A key failure in SaaS optimization is the lack of intelligent connectivity. Organizations often miss maximizing their SaaS investments by not integrating their tools deeply and intelligently. Integration for seamless data flow and custom automated workflows enhances efficiency, fosters data-driven decisions and transforms how organizations leverage their SaaS ecosystems.

3. Thoroughly Train End Users

Inadequate onboarding and training programs lead to reduced efficiency and underutilization of software features. For example, a company using project management software can enhance optimization by tailoring training programs to different user roles, ensuring team members understand the features relevant to their responsibilities.

4. Carefully Review Licensing Needs And Agreements

Many organizations have been sold the dream of less expensive technology landscapes, moving to SaaS models based solely on operating expenses, only to see a significant increase in costs as they fail to monitor the usage and appropriateness of what’s been licensed. Ask, “Is perpetual, individual or concurrent licensing required, and does everyone need the same level of service?” Review these details and reduce costs!

5. Think About Adoption As Much As Use Cases

A common oversight is the assumption that users will simply realize a new tool exists the minute it becomes available. In reality, everything has a customer acquisition cost. Whether you’re rolling out a new enterprise resource planning system or asking clinicians to leverage a new care tool, think about the adoption strategy as much as the use case. Even if the technology adds significant value, don’t assume users will focus on it.

6. Ensure You’re Leveraging All The Features

Utilizing only some features and continuing with antiquated processes are two major reasons enterprises don’t get full value from their SaaS platforms. Most SaaS platforms provide functionality that exceeds what they were originally acquired for. Companies should look into additional use cases they can solve with the tools. SaaS brings industry-standard practices to many problems for better processes.

7. Look For Solutions That ‘Wear Many Hats’

The key to optimizing SaaS usage is consolidation and value enhancement. As more organizations feel the pressure of growing SaaS expenses, they need to opt for solutions that “wear many hats.” When selecting a SaaS product, IT leaders should think not only about the primary offering, but also about how it can augment some of the products that the company is currently investing in (or help eliminate them altogether).

8. Assign Service Owners To Each SaaS Product

Assigning a service owner to each SaaS can optimize ROI. Owners not only help design, manage and support the service, but also expand its adoption. That entails nurturing a group of champions, notifying users about new capabilities and demonstrating them, teaching appropriate and secure use, and analyzing metrics. In bundles such as Microsoft 365, having multiple service owners (for security, SharePoint, Teams and so on) can maximize value.

9. Regularly Assess Your Organizational Needs

One way organizations fail to optimize their SaaS usage is by not actively managing and monitoring their subscriptions. By actively optimizing subscriptions, organizations can not only reduce costs, but also improve the overall efficiency of their software tools. Regularly assessing the needs of the organization and aligning subscriptions with usage ensures that resources are allocated wisely.

10. Calculate The Total Cost Of Your SaaS Portfolio

Organizations frequently acquire various SaaS subscriptions over time to address specific needs or challenges. However, without a structured approach to subscription portfolio management, a company may lack visibility into the total cost of its SaaS portfolio, making it challenging to assess the overall financial impact and return on investment.

11. Get A Holistic View Of Cloud Workloads

The insatiable demand for SaaS applications is creating an IT environment where uncontrolled SaaS sprawl results in lower resource utilization, higher costs and rising cybersecurity risk. Without clear visibility into SaaS application usage, organizations are flying blind, which is why it’s critical to get a holistic view of your cloud workloads and manage them wisely.

12. Routinely Eliminate Unused Licenses

Continuously monitor SaaS costs and assess whether the value derived from each subscription justifies the expense. Ensure that employees are trained effectively on the SaaS tools they use. Adjust the number of licenses or seats for each SaaS tool based on actual usage, and eliminate unused licenses to reduce costs.

13. Establish A Rigid Evaluation Process For New Solutions

Organizations find themselves with a proliferation of SaaS solutions because a person or team decided they needed a specific capability and didn’t check to see if the capability existed in an already-licensed solution. This can be expensive. IT should put a rigid evaluation process in place that looks at individual and team requirements to see if the capabilities needed can be addressed by existing tech.

14. Pay Attention To Data Security And Compliance

To avoid data breaches and legal consequences, organizations must pay more attention to data security and compliance when adopting SaaS solutions. Thoroughly vet SaaS providers for security measures, implement encryption protocols and stay informed about relevant regulations. Regular audits can ensure ongoing compliance.

15. Regularly Reevaluate Each SaaS Solution In Use

Before adopting a SaaS service, you evaluate its services, performance and costs. But is that the only time you do such an evaluation? You should reevaluate your SaaS solutions on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Is a SaaS tool still cheaper than developing an in-house solution? Is it still safe and reliable? Are there any new services available that you should be utilizing? Can you optimize any costs?

16. Analyze How Features Are Used In Different Projects

Disparate usage methods can lead to confusion, inefficiencies and quality issues. Regular SaaS utilization reviews offer a structured approach to identifying and addressing these inconsistencies. By thoroughly analyzing how features are used in different projects, organizations can standardize processes. Tailored training programs can then bridge knowledge gaps, promoting effective utilization.

17. Leverage Platforms’ Analytics And Reporting Features

Many companies underutilize the analytics and reporting features SaaS platforms offer, including insights into user behavior, efficiency and system performance. Regularly analyzing these metrics helps you make informed decisions about workflow improvements, training needs and opportunities to scale or downsize software licenses based on actual usage and ROI.

18. Ensure Alignment With Long-Term Goals

Organizations often fail in SaaS optimization due to misalignment with long-term goals. Effective strategies include integrating SaaS evaluations into strategic planning, involving cross-functional teams, conducting regular ROI analyses and ensuring user involvement in decision making. This approach ensures SaaS investments are cost-effective and aligned with organizational objectives.

19. Create And Review SBOMs

Many organizations don’t have visibility into what components are in the SaaS products they’re using or the capability to find and fix vulnerabilities in the components that affect them. With software bill of materials mandates looming for enterprises, teams must be able to produce and review SBOMs to understand their SaaS risk posture.

20. Develop A Subscription Renewal Audit Strategy

Unintended auto-renewal of SaaS licenses is a common oversight in SaaS usage, leading to unnecessary expenses. To address this, develop a subscription renewal audit strategy. Conduct frequent audits to assess whether plan expansion is required, and set reminders to notify the team well before renewals. This approach enables businesses to strategically cut off irrelevant SaaS renewals.


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