Lynn Johnson, Director of Business Systems at Seattle’s Qumulo software, laughs when asked about the moment she realized she needed a tool to manage the growing software use inside her 180-person, file storage technology company: “My CFO walked into my office and said, ‘I’m putting you in charge of our SaaS apps’”.
While her team handled corporate wide applications, including an ERP and other core business systems, non-centrally managed SaaS was an entirely different challenge.
We have so many things,
Lynn recalled. “How am I going to keep track of all of this, make sure people are buying SaaS tools that aren’t redundant or overlapping, and figure out if there are security risks.” Her immediate concern was trying to figure out a way to get visibility into what was being purchased and used in a company that trusted its teams and was committed to giving budget authority to department managers.
“I knew I could just do a big export from our financial system and from Concur, dump the data into Excel and try to figure it out”, Lynn shared. But instead of resigning herself and her team to a manually intensive, error prone and unscalable approach to license management, they started exploring software vendor solutions.
After hitting a dead-end with their existing ERP provider, the company had conversations with a few other spend management tool vendors. “There are a few different ways that [vendors] tackle this problem, and some [of the vendors] have things that look at network traffic, or install a browser add-on to monitor activity. We just didn’t want to be that invasive to our employees.”
After a quick trial period, Qumulo adopted Cleanshelf and, as Lynn shares, “[...] finally got visibility!”
- Growing extremely fast and supporting their growth with over 100 SaaS tools.
- No Central Repository for SaaS spend data.
- SaaS buyers are spread across the business with limited controls or visibility.
Today, the team meets regularly with department heads to review spend and finds this to be a helpful, collaborative experience. “Each department has their own SaaS budget, and they’ve got to manage that, so they’re definitely interested [in meeting] and looking at the spend part, but also the renewal piece.”
In discussing the immediate benefits of Cleanshelf and how the company intends on further leveraging the software in the future, Lynn was quick to note – “It’s got really nice visualizations and notifications for contract renewals.”She also found that Cleanshelf answered questions and helped tighten budgeting exercises in ways the company didn’t initially expect: “So someone in finance was doing some planning as part of the budget cycle and comes to me and asks, ‘How much software does someone in sales need to start?’ In thirty seconds, I had that answer.”
How much software does someone in sales need to start?
Going forward, Lynn has plans to utilize renewal alerts to help dig up SaaS contracts around the company that are on auto-renewal. She also acknowledges that the improved visibility lets her connect interested managers and departments, supporting company goals for collaboration. “If somebody is looking for a tool, or trying some, I can say, ‘Oh, well, Customer Success is using this tool. Maybe you should talk to them.’”
In addition, the company plans to begin loading software budgets into Cleanshelf to improve tracking of spend against plan by vendor. The finance and business systems teams expect this new alignment with the budgeting process will grow cost consciousness and efficiency.
Customer Success and the monthly SaaS audit reports allow us to save money while we sleep.
Today, Qumulo has around twelve users working with Cleanshelf. And for the finance team, the benefits from usage have been pronounced. Like most companies, Qumulo employees will purchase SaaS with their credit cards and run the licenses through their expense reports. Transactions come into the financial system with little description or indication of what they represent. Now, the company can immediately tie spend to a specific vendor and aggregate out.
Cleanshelf’s interview with Lynn closed with this question:
What guidance would you give to someone else in a finance or a business/technology systems role at a startup around the topic of SaaS management?
“I’d say starting earlier is not a bad idea. There is a proliferation of software. People are always purchasing what they need, or what they think they need. So, having an understanding of what everyone is using is helpful – not just in terms of budgeting, but in terms of what we need to run the business and finding out ways to be more efficient.”
To learn more how Qumulo and other fast-growing startups are using Cleanshelf to build financial clarity and improve SaaS efficiency, contact our team today.
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