If there’s one thing COOs know how to do, it’s build processes. Their remit is broad, and touches every part of the business. COOs are responsible for putting the tech, infrastructure and people in place to ensure that startups not not only run smoothly, but scale – and that’s impossible without robust, repeatable processes.
But startups are high-pressured, fast-moving environments, and priorities can change as strategy pivots. With so many teams working on many different workstreams, COOs can find themselves pulled in different directions as they attempt to optimize each one. It can be hard to identify which initiatives will have the most business impact, let alone how to support and progress them.
One important area for COOs to spend their time is on building processes for software management. SaaS is a key enabler for startups, but can also become one of the biggest time, resource and morale drains if not managed properly. To boost productivity and ensure the whole business is empowered to work efficiently, strong software management is key.
Why COOs should focus on software management
Software is the second-biggest expense for most startups and scaleups - right behind payroll. But it’s estimated that 30% of SaaS Spend is wasted on forgotten, unused and duplicate SaaS. For COOs tasked with making sure the business stays within healthy operating margins, and in the midst of economic uncertainty, that’s a problem.
Many already know this. When we surveyed startup business leaders, 65% said that there was room for improvement in their SaaS management processes, and expressed concern about the cost and cultural implications if they failed to act. That challenge has become even more critical post-pandemic. EY says that in order to survive and scale, businesses need to “use digital operations to be proactively agile, not just responsive”. And increasingly, responsibility for guiding strategic digital transformation is falling to COOs.
Building and embedding business-wide processes around the end-to-end software lifecycle is an opportunity for COOs to alleviate business pain points, and add real value. It’s not a one-man job: building effective processes requires the buy-in of multiple senior stakeholders (especially IT) and bottom-up behavioral change. Though tough to navigate, that’s a win-win for COOs: not only could SaaS management processes increase business-wide operational efficiency, they could also foster better collaboration and company culture.
4 software management processes to implement today
Knowing they need to improve software management processes isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. Here are our tips for how COOs can streamline their software operations, and which processes to prioritize building out first.
Software requests and approvals
There’s a large amount of SaaS on the market (cloud software is set to be worth $374 billion by 2026), with tools to optimize every part of every job. It’s easy for employees to find and buy, and while that empowers them, it makes it hard for COOs to retain visibility over what the business already has, what’s adding value, and which new investments are worthwhile.
A clear software request and approvals process is crucial to help evaluate providers. A good process should balance business needs like compliance and cost against individual needs, like functionality and performance. That way, employees can have autonomy over their work, while COOs keep control of the wider tech stack.
Software purchase and onboarding
After approvals comes purchase. This might seem straightforward, but is worth thinking strategically about. Is there one company card for software purchases? Can all team members access it? What happens if that card is compromised and all software subscriptions need to be reset? If employees use their own cards and expense back payments, how easy is it for finance teams to reconcile at month-end?
Software purchase processes need to be lightweight and easy for all team-members (including remote workers) to follow. Using virtual cards can help reduce security risk and set automated spend limits, so budgets aren’t accidentally exceeded.
Software usage review
Software typically has a very low churn rate – which either means businesses love every single tool they buy, or they stop using them and forget to cancel subscriptions. Since our research shows that only 20% of business leaders think all of their SaaS subscriptions add value to their business, it’s probably the latter.
Introducing a software usage review can help COOs get a better sense of ROI. Understanding which SaaS is dormant is a quick way to cut unnecessary costs and look for opportunities to optimize existing spend. Looking at usage can also help uncover shadow IT, which may not have been budgeted for or risk assessed at all.
Software cancelation and offboarding
One reason many SaaS subscriptions are left to roll over is that they’re complicated to cancel. Renewal dates are easily forgotten, and complex onboarding workflows can mean that even when they are remembered, they’re missed. This costs money and wastes human resource.
Software management platforms help streamline the cancelation process, by centralizing all subscriptions in one dashboard and enabling one-click cancelation. This also makes it easy to handover control if primary subscription owners leave the business or move team.
Implementing these four foundational processes will help COOs drive efficiency across the whole business, and get maximum value from their software investment. Software management processes like Cledara offer bespoke functionality for COOs to create, streamline and automate software management processes.
To find out more about how Cledara empowers COOs to meet their goals and scale their business, download our free ebook for operations leaders.