Too many IT leaders are at odds with their business counterparts. They struggle to support users wants–while managing technology and security, and draw the ire of other employees.

Modern workers’ expectations have changed. They want immediate, convenient, and personalized software tools. They don’t want a monolith stack. Or someone telling them what to use.

They see draconian restrictions, IT sees prudent app management.

They see a buffet of SaaS options, IT sees security gaps and waste.

For decades, these false dilemmas (like security vs. choice) have persisted. They erode culture and sour relationships between IT and business leaders. No wonder so few SaaS management initiatives exist.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative.

The surprising role of SaaS management in building company culture.

Gain visibility, then share it with others.

Bonusly, a leading employee engagement company, notes how trust is the cornerstone of a healthy corporate culture. Rather than a logistical shift, they guide a practical one: default to transparency.

For IT, this means stepping out from obscurity and discussing software challenges and opportunities. For example: when IT rolls out an enterprise app, bring business leaders into the decision-making process.

This builds cross-organizational support (e.g., your business customers don’t feel micromanaged by a new policy) and rounds out perspective (e.g., lessens the likelihood of IT being unnecessarily prohibitive).

ComputerWorld reinforces this:

“[a] key trust-building option is letting people see and understand the processes, commitments, and stakeholders involved in IT policy decisions – and inviting a genuine real-time conversation about pain points users are experiencing at home.“

The alternative is what happens today: employees source their own solutions or workarounds because they feel unheard.

Unlock insights, then promote a better way.

Employees and managers underestimate how beneficial IT can be.

IT leaders must show–and share–what a great technologist can do. For example, IT can help sales and marketing source the right tools to wrangle disparate lead data into actionable insight.

IT is also positioned to connect-the-dots on effective app usage. With an enterprise SaaS management platform, for example, IT has visibility into what tools are in use, where collaboration can happen, and where savings opportunities exist.

Sharing these successful SaaS deployment findings with business users can shift the centralized IT management conversation from one of rule making, to productivity and cost savings.

As well, IT can reposition issues like security as beneficial to employees. Business users may not understand what the latest Apple or Google announcement about privacy and user profiles means, for example. Help them interpret it. This lets them make smarter choices about business and personal use of company hardware or applications.

Understand usage, and prioritize tools that help culture.

The pandemic season highlights two distinct ways communication improves culture. IT is a key enabler of each.

The first relates to connecting. In a recent podcast on working from home and culture, HBR describes how remote work relies on employees’ abilities to forge and maintain meaningful human connections.

Gone are the impromptu lunches and coffee walks–just imagine the instability and insecurity of a new hire during this season!

Communication and collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, and MS Teams are essential, and IT’s role to vet, deploy, manage, and support these is significant. Execs need IT to herd users of disparate tools toward a common one. Yes, for ease of communication, but also for collaboration and cost savings.

Second, communication makes IT more approachable.

One industry resource suggests a weekly newsletter containing tips and tricks for remote work. This, or any similar outreach, serves two purposes:

  1. It establishes dialogue and makes IT ‘more human.’ Users may be more willing to discuss shadow IT, security, or app usage issues as they arise.
  2. Second, it helps IT promote a larger agenda of SaaS hygiene. A helpful Guide to Productivity Apps, for example, may prompt users to abandon underperforming tools and adopt the better, company-sanctioned one.

Mark Parr, CISO at KPMG UK, admits that IT must make strides in this area:

“I want people to feel comfortable and that if they've made a mistake, they can tell me. That's all about building trust and for my colleagues to feel that I'm actually there to support them [...]”

Partner with users – from a place of control.

When IT commits to rigorous but inclusive SaaS management, they’ll hear stories of productivity breakthroughs, plugged security gaps, uncovered savings, and better alignment.

These should encourage IT – and be shared broadly to promote smarter software usage and partnership across IT, business users, and finance and operations.

According to Grame Park, head of global security operations for eCommerce retailer The Hut Group, this also serves as a Shadow IT reminder:

“People aren't bad; they're not trying to use shadow IT to deliberately circumvent company policy or company security. It's usually the case that they just want to do their job better, faster, easier [...]

“It’s a failure of IT and security; we can change from being that blocker to being an enabler to make sure that people have got the tools that they need to do their job.”

This mindset shift has the power to change the company culture.

But first, IT needs effective enterprise SaaS management processes in place. Being agile and accommodating users’ interests in new tools can happen, but only when operating from a place of being in control.


About Cleanshelf

Cleanshelf is the leading enterprise SaaS management platform focused on tracking, controlling, and benchmarking SaaS applications. Their SOC 2-compliant and AI-powered technology helps companies save up to 30% on their SaaS spending by automatically identifying unmanaged contracts, duplicate licenses, and wasted cloud software subscriptions. Based in San Francisco, Cleanshelf provides an enterprise-grade solution to over a hundred clients, including Hilton, Looker, and CoStar Group.

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