Currently, managing business continuity, liquidity and operational efficiencies – plus, figuring out how to save staff, grab the spotlight. But for all the talk about refocused priorities and resilient business models, effective IT leadership still struggles to find the best strategy.

Reshuffling effective IT leadership priorities

IT Leaders need better insight into processes keeping a business afloat. Ongoing effectiveness in turbulent times demands this. But many leaders aren’t sufficiently attuned. In particular, with software and technology assets and processes. However, these links to cash flow, data security, and employee productivity, that are the company’s life sources and that we focus on in this article.

“Like most business leaders, CIOs now have to rethink priorities, or at least reorder them, and we must reinvent ourselves now as virtual leaders.”

Consider one example – supporting remote workers – to see how this works in real life.

ZDNet describes the crush of companies readying office-based employees for work-from-home. They note the challenges of provisioning even basic applications like email, file sync and sharing – while making video conferencing, phone and team messaging solutions broadly available.

1. Employee productivity when the world is working from home

CIOs have been tasked to enable a positive work from home environment and to improve IT collaboration with other departments. "In fact, CEOs have made “improving the remote work experience” a new top priority for 37 percent of IT leaders, tied with leading digital transformation initiatives."

Our new work dynamic means new needs and tools...and now. Paul Chapman, CIO of Box, offers one example of digital signatures.

“Digitizing the way employees sign paperwork might come across as a detail in normal times. But now that workers are stuck at home, applying an e-signature seems a lot more helpful than losing time printing, signing, scanning, and emailing back documents.”

Before COVID, employees (mostly) still signed paperwork with a pen. Now, they can’t. But with a credit card and a few clicks, they can solve this. All of a sudden, to keep employee productivity up and running with no interruptions, a company has multiple contracts with multiple vendors providing e-signature services.

License and spend management are ignored. Eventually, someone will be responsible to optimize and manage these rogue purchases. The question is: can they?

2. Budgeting and cost control

Information Technology leaders are bound to curb spending because of the economic implications of the last few months. "An IDG survey of 414 IT leaders in April found that most budgets will either hold steady or increase in the next 12 months.

They also expect a renewed emphasis on operational efficiency, expense management, and cost controls. Meanwhile, business collaboration, hiring, and training will take a back seat in the coming months."

According to IDC, businesses are expected to further adopt cloud services to offset capital spending. Forrester analyst recommended taking a lead with cloud projects as a way to control the costs to make it easier to match spending to revenue.

This way you can cut spending on PC replacements, save for upgrades from old operating systems to newer ones, and machines needed for employees that are working from home.

Earlier this year, we wrote about the likelihood of a market correction. The guidance we cited from McKinsey is worth repeating.

To understand the behavior that matters for longevity, McKinsey studied the characteristics of companies that outperformed in past recessions. They observed what these companies did before, during, and after a downturn that ultimately made them successful.

Two of the top three strategic focus areas in their findings?

  1. Balance Sheet Flexibility
  2. Operating Flexibility

These companies preemptively cut costs, reduced SG&A spend during the downturn while maintaining employee productivity, and refocusing spend to high-value activities.

A recent study by one of our customers found that software has seen one of the biggest increases as an expense item in the workforce today (up 22%). As an IT leader, you need to be able to discover and aggregate all the applications in the business and ensure there are no hidden cloud applications or purchases in your portfolio.

3. Securing data in an accelerated Saas wave

A cloud computing survey, done by IDG shows that cloud now represents a third of the IT spend as a majority of organizations plan to use cloud services for over half of their infrastructure and applications.

Buried beneath corporate mandate are operational concerns heaped on IT. In a post-COVID survey of CIOs, 70% of respondents said they are increasing budgets or investments in cyber-security. In an all-remote world, protecting data moving out of the corporate office has been a huge deal.

“Like most business leaders, CIOs now have to rethink priorities, or at least reorder them, and we must reinvent ourselves now as virtual leaders,” says Adobe CIO Cynthia Stoddard. “We’re thinking even more about security due to the rapid shift to so many people working from home…”

Bigger budgets and SecOps staff may ease some of the challenges, but problems like visibility, uncoordinated purchasing, and license optimization remain at large.

Remote work adds issues like software license management, redundant applications, coordinated SaaS purchasing, and on/off-boarding, too. Forbes identifies “giving the frontlines access to digital technologies”, as well as “getting the right technology to the right people”, as top of mind in this era. CFOs and CIOs are realizing: easier said than done.

As we described in the WFH Automated Saas management article, on average, enterprises underestimate the number of SaaS apps they own by 50% which results in a lack of visibility and absence of control.

Top tech leaders became aware of the problem and started focusing on growing security challenges utilizing Enterprise Saas Management platform like Cleanshelf.

How Cleanshelf helps: controlling SaaS – the new IT imperative

When it comes to SaaS investments, Cleanshelf’s platform gives effective CIOs visibility and control. It helps them address technological and financial vulnerabilities, manage cloud apps, and drive performance within new priority areas – like supporting a remote workforce – discussed above.

> Cloud app license, seat and subscription visibility

Cleanshelf's platform helps IT leaders to monitor software use, purchases, and contracts. Whether you need to keep an eye on a buying ban or want to consolidate licensing among departments, our intuitive dashboards help.

Cleanshelf's demo dashboard screenshot that gives effective CFO and CIO visibility and control to their monthly Salesforce CRM spend

> Contract management and cloud app renewal planning

According to Cleanshelf's Business SaaS Spend report, unoptimized contracts are one of the top three reasons for wasted SaaS spend. Cleanshelf automatically parses SaaS contracts to identify which contracts are renewing in the next months. This helps determine what vendors to prioritize.

Cleanshelf's demo dashboard screenshot that gives effective CFO and CIO visibility and control to their Saas contract renewals.

> Ongoing cloud app inventory tracking

Need to discuss software spend or usage with your sales department, but not sure who manages what? Cleanshelf connects with enterprise systems and pulls key information about every SaaS service. This enhances security as they know what they have implemented in the company.

Cleanshelf's demo dashboard screenshot that gives effective CFO and CIO visibility and control to their monthly Saas spend.

> Cloud app and vendor metrics

Cleanshelf analyzes thousands of data points across our customer base and aggregates pricing and usage tracking for consumption-based subscriptions. We equip you for vendor negotiations – you’ll know if you’re overpaying. The platform also provides intelligence to keep the employee onboarding and offboarding process as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

Cleanshelf's demo dashboard screenshot that gives effective CFO and CIO visibility and control of their Saas vendor usage.


Every business has vulnerabilities and opportunities for performance improvement. Tougher situations simply expose them. With Cleanshelf, clients can address these, and emerge more lean and organized.

In a recent feature article Dennis McGonigle of SEI Investments and a leading voice on managing businesses during turbulent times stated that he believes leaders have a knack for enforcing control and direction in challenging environments.

His parting thought: "Practice good monitoring. Our responsibility is to maintain the safety, integrity, and security of our company’s assets. That hasn’t gone away."


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