What is SaaS Operations?

SaaS Operations (SaaSOps) is a new an exciting field that is quickly becoming essential for companies of all sizes. We dive into what it is, why SaaSOps is important and what a SaaSOps team is responsible for.
What is SaaS Operations?

SaaS Operations (also known as SaaSOps) refers to the operational processes relating to how Software as a Service (SaaS) is discovered, purchased, managed and cancelled in a business. SaaSOps professionals are responsible for the end-to-end journey of software inside an organisation, from budgeting and approval, to leaver/joiner processes, risk management and compliance, employee enablement and automation of administration. Ultimately SaaSOps SaaSOps includes all the processes and systems companies need to enable teams to be successful users of SaaS.

Companies with a successful SaaS Operations function have more efficient processes, happier employees, are more secure, have significantly lower software costs and spend less time on repetitive software-related administration.

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. SaaS isn’t going away any time soon. Not only are companies using more and more SaaS, but many license-based software products are migrating to SaaS.

SaaS is fast becoming a key part of the way a company delivers its business. At the same time, it presents new challenges for businesses. 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 facilitates (and encourages) bottom-up purchasing decisions and so even understanding what software exists in an organisation is difficult, much less securing customer data and executing effective leaver/joiner processes.

Companies need to tackle this head on and SaaSOps is the new field tasked with this challenge. And the data is beginning to back this up - there are 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. Whilst most SaaS purchasing decisions are made by the teams and users directly, oftentimes companies will face new challenges as they scale that require new software solutions to solve. 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 their 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 a company, as well as the fully loaded cost of a team member or team and make more accurate budgets.

Automate SaaS administration

Companies that use SaaS 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, doing the bookkeeping takes hours. Doing that manually can make a “cheap” SaaS product expensive. SaaSOps teams need to take responsibility and find ways to do that automatically so that finance teams can get back to doing things that add value to the company rather than doing SaaS bookkeeping forevermore.

Own SaaS Enablement

SaaS touches everyone in the company and having a large number of SaaS tools doesn’t just make the finance team’s life difficult. HR is massively affected by SaaS - 40% of onboarding tasks relate to onboarding new hires to the SaaS products they need, a task that is especially difficult if HR don’t know what SaaS is in the company or what software the new joiner’s software uses.

Similarly, offboarding employees is very difficult when you don’t know what SaaS the departing team member had access to. Unlike a new joiner, the risk isn’t some 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. SaaSOps teams need 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 and ISO27001 or qualify for their UK Cyber Essentials need specific policies in place to manage vendor due diligence for SaaS, approvals linked to business cases and risk assessments, ongoing monitoring of SaaS and regular reporting to stay compliant. SaaSOps will be responsible for driving those processes and so, if they don’t already exist, should take the lead on introducing policies and systems to support it.

Many SaaSOps teams fall into a trap here by trying to enforce policies with threats, and yet 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.

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.

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