What is SaaS Operations?

SaaS Operations (SaaSOps) is a new field that's quickly becoming essential for companies of all sizes. So, what is it? Why is SaaSOps important? And what does a SaaSOps team do?
What is SaaS Operations?

You're here to find out about SaaS Operations, so let's start with a quick definition:

SaaS Operations (or SaaSOps) refers to the operational processes relating to how Software as a Service (SaaS) is discovered, purchased, managed and cancelled in a business.

It's a relatively new field, but, as the importance of software grows, SaaSOps professionals are fast becoming vital cogs in scaling companies.

They are responsible for the end-to-end journey of software inside an organisation. This goes all the way from budgeting and approval, to leaver/joiner processes, risk management and compliance, employee enablement and automation of administration.

It's a lot. But to put it simply, SaaSOps includes all the processes and systems companies need to empower teams to be successful users of SaaS.

Ultimately, companies with a thriving SaaS Operations function have more efficient processes, happier employees and better security. What's more they have significantly lower software costs and their teams spend less time on repetitive software-related administration.

All sounds good so far – but why now?

Why SaaSOps? Why now?

SaaS and cloud service spending reached $170 billion in 2019 and is forecast to grow by 20% to $205 billion in 2020.

Not only are companies using more and more SaaS, but many license-based software products are migrating to SaaS. SaaS is fast becoming an essential part of the way a company delivers its business. At the same time, it presents new challenges.

Traditional Software Asset Management processes and systems are no longer relevant and the challenges and risks faced by businesses using SaaS are different to those using traditional software.

SaaS software facilitates (and encourages) bottom-up purchasing decisions. That means even understanding what software exists in an organisation is difficult, never mind securing customer data and executing effective leaver/joiner processes.

SaaS isn’t going away any time soon. So companies need to tackle these challenges head – SaaSOps is the new field tasked with doing so. And the data is beginning to back this up. A quick google reveals over 3,000 vacant roles today that mention SaaS Operations or SaaSOps.

What do SaaSOps teams do?

Support users in selecting software

As SaaS subject matter experts, SaaSOps teams primary role is to help users and teams be successful users of software.

While most SaaS purchasing decisions are made by the teams and users directly, often companies face new challenges as they scale that can only be solved by new software solutions.

As SaaS experts, SaaSOps can help teams take purchasing decisions.

Establish a system of record

The first step to managing SaaS is knowing what SaaS you have.

This is a challenge when SaaS is often bought by users directly, without the involvement of IT or procurement. SaaS Operations platforms like Cledara empower SaaSOps professionals to spend less time on manual spreadsheet work, and more time on adding value to your business.

Monitor, manage and optimise the SaaS budget and identify potential savings

Globally, 50% of software spend today happens outside of official IT budgets.

Once you have a system of record for software, you can start using that data to identify forgotten, unused and duplicate SaaS subscriptions and opportunities to consolidate products.

You can also use the data to understand the real software spend of your company, as well as the fully-loaded cost of a team member or team – this all leads to more accurate budgets.

Automate SaaS administration

Companies that use SaaS tend to use a lot more software than those that use traditional software. For companies with 800-1,000 people, 7-10 new SaaS products are adopted by at least one person in a company every month.

Every new SaaS product in a company adds extra administration every month. Chasing invoices from the company, reconciling them to payments or expense reports and doing the bookkeeping takes hours.

Doing these tasks manually can make a “cheap” SaaS product expensive.

SaaSOps teams are responsible to find ways to make mundane, slow manual work automatic. That way finance teams can get back to doing things that add value to the company – rather than spending forevermore on SaaS bookkeeping.

Own SaaS Enablement

Having a large number of SaaS tools doesn’t just make the finance team’s life difficult. SaaS touches everyone in the company.

HR, for example, is massively affected by SaaS.

40% of onboarding tasks relate to onboarding new hires to the SaaS products they need. A task that's especially difficult if HR don’t know what SaaS is in the company or what software the new joiners use.

Similarly, offboarding employees is no easy task when you don’t know what SaaS the departing team member had access to.

Unlike a new joiner, the risk isn’t just lost time – it’s risking a data breach and fines. Data security is probably the biggest risk arising from the Bring Your Own Software (BYOS) revolution and so getting this right is not optional for most companies.

With this in mind, SaaSOps teams should strive to use systems and develop processes that help protect the company and customer data.

Own SaaS Compliance Policies

Businesses that need to comply with SOC2, ISO27001, or EBA Outsourcing Guidelines need specific policies in place to manage vendor due diligence. This includes SaaS, approvals linked to business cases and risk assessments, ongoing monitoring of SaaS and regular reporting to stay compliant.

In most cases, SaaSOps will be responsible for driving these processes. So, if they don’t already exist, it's time to take the lead on introducing policies and systems to support them.

But this is a tricky task when 72% of CIOs still have no idea how many SaaS tools exist in their business.

Each undocumented or unapproved SaaS product that is subsequently discovered is a breach that needs to be recorded. As a result, traditional SaaS management tools that only detect SaaS once you have it result in lengthy breach registers.

Modern SaaSOps teams should seek a SaaS Operations platform that includes authorisation and payment integrated to the normal SaaS Ops management solutions. That way compliance becomes a seamless part of the SaaS purchasing experience.

If you'd like to find out more about how Cledara helps bring visibility and control to SaaS Operations, try out our platform for free here.

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