Re-imagining IT as a business partner

If modern enterprises are to achieve the promises of a cloud-first future, business and IT teams must improve collaboration. For IT leaders, delivering insights from Enterprise SaaS Management is an ideal starting point.

How companies procure and use software has changed over the past few years. Often, IT is removed from the central decision-making (or influencer) role. Absolutely, decentralized approaches have benefits; users may more quickly access the software they need to stay competitive.

As well, cloud is relatively easy to deploy, and departments often know what tools and applications they need–especially for more technical use cases like data science, analytics, or engineering. Centralized IT intervention is not always the best approach.

Current practices in enterprises show that employees and departmental levels have a much bigger role in software purchases.

Graphic showing who buys Software in the organization, divided by employees, department level and IT.
Software purchases between employees, department level and IT are divided much differently today to how they were in the past.

However, increased cloud adoption brings a variety of must-dos. For example, companies need to manage regulatory compliance and work to minimize the security risks SaaS introduces.

The average user is not prepared for this. Here is where IT–using Enterprise SaaS Management processes–can reestablish its essential role.

With ESM, IT can help build a secure company culture and collaborate with other departments on cost, security, and compliance initiatives from a place of influence and leadership.

Not simply being the “bad guy” trying to root out shadow IT.

Enterprise SaaS Management: a key to collaboration

Some CIOs still think that operating independently of the business side is the best way to work– it’s not.

IT leaders who want to lead digital transformation efforts need to regain relationships within the business and use their technical knowledge to facilitate more open conversations with teams in finance, procurement, and security, for example.

As Alm Brand's EVP Hjort-Madsen stated: "Being hidden is not as much fun as being able to show the value of your investments. Because if you can show the value, you get more money to innovate."

For forward-thinking cloud companies, Enterprise SaaS Management is central to decision making, savings and investment, security management, and productivity.

It produces a sort of ‘hive effect’ where critical departments can connect, leverage one another’s insights, and, together, deliver business value. Consider business units’ overlapping, functional responsibilities surrounding ESM:

  • IT drives productivity and cloud usage. It provisions and onboards new tools and administers existing ones.
  • Finance controls spend and prioritizes financial responsibility. It guides budgeting, cost optimization, and planning.
  • Procurement sources recommended tools at competitive prices and looks for license consolidation opportunities.
  • Security teams monitor vendors’ data access and ensure conformance to company policies.

Benefits that IT collaboration can yield

As the ITAM Review guides, IT asset managers must lead business change by identifying usage and entitlement insights. These are most easily gleaned from an Enterprise SaaS Management platform.

Before ESM, leaders struggled to answer critical cloud-related questions:

  • Why are we over IT budget?
  • How do we get ahead of renewals?
  • What are the business reasons to use a particular tool?
  • What is our cost to onboard new market hires?
  • Have users adopted our recently purchased tools?

ESM answers each of these through a variety of use cases and examples of cross-departmental collaboration.

Here are only a few that you can start with.

  • Improved technology on-boarding

    When IT leaders find transformative technology to deploy within the company, a challenge is realizing those benefits through full user adoption.

    To support this, IT must move from broad, company-wide outreach and institute targeted touchpoints to ensure users follow a prescribed usage plan.

    Salesforce CRM SaaS spend by department and it's utilization.
    You can improve the adoption of new technology by having insights from the ESM.

    This outreach requires adoption rate and usage insights at the departmental and user levels. But granularity is difficult to assess without an Enterprise SaaS Management platform that houses integrations with the full suite of cloud tools you own.

    Sure, insights like “spend by department” are useful for budgeting and cost-containment, but many find the usage stats even more illuminating; the departments that don’t log in, or underutilize enterprise tools can be notified and coached to increase adoption accordingly.

  • Proactive SaaS renewal optimization

    Many vendors require a notification of non-renewal in that event that a customer chooses not to renew a contract. These are often overlooked or forgotten.

    The consequences for this oversight may be severe; SaaS auto-renewals often include price hikes and–in the case of reduced licensing–may reprice to the price book’s highest level regardless of the previous term per-unit pricing.

    Sometimes, the smallest details derail cancellations. Does legal, finance, IT, or departmental owner send the cancellation notice? Who actually IS responsible for the contract?

    The vendor email may end up in a Spam folder or be sent to a contact that has left the company. Now multiply the likelihood of each of these issues by the hundreds or thousands of contracts managed between procurement, finance, and IT every month.

    With ESM this won't be a problem anymore.

    You can become proactive with SaaS renewals using our renewal schedule alerts.
    Setting up SaaS renewal alerts reminds you early enough to give you time for contract negotations or cancellations.

    Robust Enterprise SaaS Management platforms connect to contract management systems and assist with renewal management using automated renewal alerts and a highly visual, renewal timeline.

    We find this to be the quickest way to move from reactive to proactive contract optimization.

  • SaaS budget allocation and future planning

    Headcount growth or shrinkage requires agile software cost optimization processes. Few FP&A departments can handle this dynamic employee movement with a basic budget spreadsheets approach.

    Accurate planning and budgeting is even harder with decentralized buying and an ever-changing SaaS environment.

    As an IT leader, you need to be able to support financial planning by knowing software spend by department, as well as the standard software spend by the role. Imagine being able to answer: "how much software does someone in sales need to start?" in less than 30 seconds.

    With the help of an Enterprise SaaS Management platform, IT leaders can collaborate on budget planning; helping define cash flow impact and guiding accurate departmental software spend allocation when needed.

    Know exactly what tools one use in marketing and how much they would cost to onboard.
    Know exactly what tools employees use in each department and how much any additional employee in that department would cost to onboard.

Outcomes of ESM for IT leadership

Enterprise SaaS Management immediately elevates the role of IT through cross-departmental collaboration and by positioning IT as a central knowledge provider, and decision-making partner.

With a modern ESM, IT regains access to mission-critical data; data that are essential for financial, security, and essential business functions.

Do you want to find the insights to empower your IT collaboration?

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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 Qumulo, Wodify, and CoStar Group.

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