The Future of ITSM Includes Distributed SaaS Management

Distributed SaaS Management

Now the dust has settled from the pandemic, IT is in the midst of a reckoning. The old way of IT, where a centralized IT department and ticketing system manages tech decisions and IT services, doesn’t work in the new normal. It’s too slow and siloed, which stifles productivity and collaboration across the organization. IT service management (ITSM) needs to evolve to support, accelerate, and improve business performance through better delivery of IT services. This includes the need for distributed SaaS management.

Perhaps that’s why there’s a growing interest in distributed IT, where department leaders and even individuals manage some IT services on their own. One service that enables and even encourages distributed management is cloud-based software. Where the SaaS-ification of tech stacks and the ease with which nearly anyone can acquire, test, and integrate cloud applications without going through IT has its merits, like greater employee productivity, more autonomy, and fewer access management bottlenecks, to name a few.

'As app adoption & ownership become more distributed, orgs need to ensure they’re not losing sight of the processes required for effective distributed SaaS management.' – @uriharamati #Cloud #SaaS Click To Tweet

However, as app adoption and ownership become more distributed and the self-serve mode of operating streamlines request fulfillment processes, organizations need to ensure they’re not losing sight of the processes required for effective distributed SaaS management.

How ITSM and distributed SaaS management work together

So what exactly is distributed SaaS management? At a high-level, SaaS management is exactly what it sounds like—the act of tracking and managing the full lifecycle of all cloud applications used within an organization. When done effectively, distributed SaaS management, like ITSM, improves the business value of software through processes that create complete, centralized visibility of all tools employees use, improve onboarding and offboarding, optimize SaaS spend, and automate complex or mundane tasks.

Do not be mistaken, though—distributed does not mean disconnected. In the case of distributed SaaS management, true success occurs when organizations treat it as a team sport, where processes are orchestrated by IT and co-driven by stakeholders across the organization, including application owners, lines of business, procurement, finance, and security.

This article by @uriharamati unpacks a few areas of #ITSM that directly correlate to #SaaS management, the associated challenges, and solutions. #Cloud Click To Tweet

Let’s unpack a few areas of ITSM that directly correlate to SaaS management, the associated challenges, and solutions.

1. Internal service portfolio and catalog management

One area of ITSM challenged by distributed SaaS adoption is service portfolio and catalog management.

You might think you have a complete record of all the cloud apps used by your employees, but do you know for sure? Is that spreadsheet you’re using really up-to-date? Probably not.

Because SaaS applications are so accessible and easy for anyone to adopt, organizations have experienced an explosion of applications in their tech stacks—but many of them are hiding in the shadows because employees acquire and use them without IT’s knowledge. Because of this, the number of applications in an organization is often three to six times higher than what they estimate. And dozens are added every month, making it impossible to stay on top of them.

To effectively manage SaaS apps in your portfolio and build an accurate service catalog, your organization must first gain visibility of all the sanctioned and unsanctioned apps in your system. Implementing tools that integrate with applications to provide automatic, ongoing complete discovery is the easiest way to accomplish this. Additionally, through this process, application owners, especially those of any unsanctioned apps, should collaborate with IT and security to establish why, how, and by whom the app is used.

Then, with visibility, IT can build out a complete, dynamic catalog of sanctioned SaaS applications that’s accessible to the entire company.

2. Access management and distributed SaaS management

The traditional service request method creates bottlenecks when requests for new IT services and applications are submitted through an IT help or service desk. Manually onboarding new employees with all the necessary apps forces IT teams to bounce back and forth between interfaces to complete configuration and end-user set-up tasks one by one. This repetitive, mundane, time-consuming process inevitably leads to a few things falling through the cracks.

On the other end of the employee lifecycle, offboarding, especially for unsanctioned apps, often remains incomplete, so former employees can still access your organization’s apps and their sensitive data. In that case, app licenses remain associated with that employee, when they could be reclaimed and reassigned to others in need.

SaaS management aims to make tasks like onboarding, offboarding, and general access management easier, more secure, and more efficient for everyone. For example, SaaS management tools that connect human resources systems and IT make it possible to create automated workflows based on employment status. So, new employees have all their apps available on day one, and apps associated with former employees are de-provisioned as soon as they leave the company, 

To effectively manage #SaaS apps in your portfolio and build an accurate service catalog, your organization must first gain visibility of all the sanctioned and unsanctioned apps in your system – @uriharamati #Cloud #ServiceDesk Click To Tweet

Additionally, when organizations successfully create a “shoppable” SaaS app catalog that empowers self-service, the volume of access-related help desk tickets submitted to IT will dwindle, giving departments and individuals greater autonomy.

3. Financial management for IT services

Every organization wants to cut costs and improve the return on investment (ROI) of their tech stack—especially these days—but many companies drastically overspend on cloud applications without realizing it. It’s estimated that just over one-third of spending on SaaS applications goes to waste, usually due to unused applications, underutilized licenses, duplicate or redundant licenses, and hidden costs in “Shadow IT” scenarios.

While distributed SaaS management is a good fix for service bottlenecks, organizations need to be mindful that in this model, renewal dates, usage data, and additional vendor contract information can become siloed or scattered, which makes it challenging to manage those areas of spend waste. 

For instance, your organization could be overpaying if your marketing and sales departments both use Jira but unknowingly signed separate contracts. Or, in the same scenario, there may be an opportunity to consolidate and renegotiate these contracts ahead of renewal. However, these opportunities get overlooked if there’s a disconnect or lack of visibility between IT and finance or procurement teams.

Additionally, distributed app ownership also makes surprise renewals a tricky thing to tackle. Remember, SaaS management is a team sport, so if key players don’t know the play calls (e.g. reharvesting instead of purchasing new licenses) or game schedule (renewal dates in this case), they won’t know how or when to show up prepared.

No matter who owns company apps or where #ITSM sits in your organization, distributed #SaaS management requires intentional collaboration. This article by @uriharamati explores. #Cloud Click To Tweet

Creating a single source of truth (SSOT) that unifies the spending, contract, and usage data of all applications – and enables direct spend management actions to be easily taken by IT, finance, procurement, and app owners – needs to be part of your SaaS management game plan.

What this means

No matter who owns company apps or where ITSM sits in your organization, distributed SaaS management requires intentional collaboration. It must be treated as a team sport where all players have shared insight into critical data from an SSOT, a shared understanding of business goals, and alignment on the execution toward those goals. 

With IT at the helm and stakeholders in close coordination, distributed SaaS management will enable people throughout the company to do what they must to optimize licenses, improve efficiency, and empower self-service.

Uri Haramati
Torii

Uri Haramati is co-founder and CEO of Torii, whose automated SaaS management platform helps modern IT drive businesses forward by making the best use of SaaS. A serial entrepreneur, Uri has founded several successful startups including Life on Air, the parent company behind popular apps such as Meerkat and Houseparty. He also started Skedook, an event discovery app. Uri is passionate about innovating technology that solves complex challenges and creates new opportunities.

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