SaaS Visibility

Everything you need to know
about SaaS visibility
and how it can transform your business

With dedicated customer purchasing teams supported by the Vertice platform, we can help your business optimize SaaS application visibility while reducing SaaS spend.

What is SaaS visibility and why is it important?

110 — that’s the average number of SaaS applications businesses now subscribe to. It’s not a trend that looks to be slowing down any time soon, with the SaaS market forecast to continue its exponential growth. 

SaaS visibility is the ability to see all the apps in your SaaS portfolio in order to extract maximum productivity and functionality from them. But as subscription numbers increase, it becomes harder for businesses to effectively monitor their SaaS usage — without effective SaaS management solutions in place, licenses risk becoming underused or forgotten altogether. 

This neglect represents an obvious financial cost: businesses are subscribing to products they either don’t need or aren’t fully conscious of, and are likely overpaying for the privilege.

As well as this, low SaaS application visibility represents a security risk: if you’re not tracking user access and user activity, the appropriate security controls aren’t in place. 

Effective SaaS visibility, then, demands more than a simple awareness of the number of applications in your SaaS environment; it’s about understanding exactly what each platform is used for, by whom, and whether its features are being realized to the full extent. Only with these insights can companies confidently claim to have good visibility of their SaaS stack. 

SaaS visibility challenges

To achieve maximum SaaS application visibility, organizations must overcome a number of challenges:

  • SaaS sprawl — For big enterprises, it doesn’t take much for the number of SaaS tools to quickly spiral out of control. In the interests of boosting innovation, productivity or pace, SaaS licenses are often purchased outside of established procurement processes, bypassing security measures such as single sign-on (SSO) and access permissions. When IT teams are unaware of new SaaS products entering their ecosystem, SaaS sprawl can stretch beyond the reaches of manual control. The implications of a sprawl are sharpened when there’s a data breach, and security teams are unable to account for the source. 
  • Increased number of devices — Regardless of whether they’ve been trained on SaaS security, the fact is that employees are unlikely to flawlessly adhere to strict company security policies on their personal devices. With many organizations now adopting remote working models, employees are regularly interacting with SaaS apps away from the office. If overall SaaS visibility is low, the possibility of mishandling sensitive data increases.
  • Audits — The only way to achieve SaaS application visibility is to conduct a comprehensive audit of all the company’s SaaS investments. Not only will this reveal the precise number of subscriptions in the stack, but it will also shed light on the frequency with which these subscriptions are used and by whom. Manual audits can be incredibly time-consuming without assistance from a software visibility platform.

The benefits of increasing SaaS visibility

Increasing SaaS visibility is about improving the process of purchasing and maintaining your IT infrastructure. As such, it brings a number of benefits to your organization:

  • Better security — A greater awareness of SaaS products results in fewer vulnerabilities in your system. When every SaaS application is accounted for — whether that’s on-premises or through cloud services — your security teams can better track and resolve any threats as and when they occur. Without this, data security breaches become hard to see and even harder to act upon. 
  • Optimization — When software visibility is high, businesses give themselves the chance to optimize their entire SaaS stack. You’ll be able to see exactly which apps are useful, which aren’t, and which could be working a little harder with just a few modifications. SaaS visibility also means that overlapping products can be dealt with, streamlining application use and general workflows across the business.
  • Cost savings — A natural byproduct of optimization is a reduction in spend. By providing insights into platform usage, SaaS application visibility enables organizations to retire any products in the stack that are underutilized and therefore no longer needed. If your business objectives have changed since your last SaaS audit, chances are you’ll find a few redundant applications in the system. Looking for efficiencies is also a good reason to reopen conversations with your supplier, who will be happy to renegotiate a deal that better supports your needs.
  • Time savings — Conducting manual audits of your SaaS portfolio can be incredibly messy and time-consuming. With the right platform, SaaS application visibility can be achieved at speed through automations, notifications, and appropriate metrics, alerting teams to usage data and platform performance with real-time insights. This will modernize your current SaaS stack and save invaluable time in the process.

Best practices for mitigating shadow IT to increase SaaS visibility

Shadow IT refers to any IT products that have been procured without the oversight of a centralized IT department. These purchases take place when individuals or teams within an organization look to make a quick purchasing decision in order to save time, often to ensure that a particular project can be completed as efficiently as possible.

The issue with shadow IT is that purchases aren’t subject to the rigorous security posture of established IT procurement processes. The presence of shadow IT makes organizations a bigger target to hackers — data breaches are more likely to occur through shadow SaaS platforms, since cybersecurity practices cannot be fully in place when these purchases are made.  

When shadow IT fulfills its function, a lack of company-wide awareness into its existence often results in contracts rolling over, with no accountability into who’s responsible.

Shadow IT represents an obvious obstacle to SaaS visibility: without an understanding into which platforms and products are running in your system — and where ownership of these platforms lie — software visibility becomes practically impossible.

With this in mind, here are some best practices to help mitigate against the threat of shadow IT:

  • Implement clear procurement processes — It may cause some annoyance now and then, but developing clear procurement processes and ensuring employees adhere to them is the best way to eliminate shadow IT. Your IT department will then be able to account for every SaaS product in your system.
  • Educate employees — You’ll need to enlist the support of your employees in order to ensure purchases aren’t made without the knowledge of the IT team. Part of this process is making sure everyone in your organization understands why shadow IT is problematic.
  • Monitor network traffic — Introducing a platform that tracks the usage of applications running on your network is the best way to eradicate shadow IT. With this in place, you’ll not only improve visibility of everything in your system, but you’ll also be notified as soon as security issues arise.

How to increase your organization’s SaaS visibility and cut costs

The Vertice platform is an essential tool for improving SaaS visibility. It provides a complete account of every SaaS product in the system to enhance visibility for IT teams, allowing companies to optimize their SaaS portfolio, cut costs and boost security. 

Armed with a greater understanding of SaaS usage, negotiating teams put themselves in a better position to rehash the terms of their subscriptions. You’ll be able to see exactly the extent to which applications are being used and whether any features are unnecessary. With this information, you’ll be able to negotiate pricing points more reflective of your company’s application use — or hire Vertice’s customer purchasing teams to do this on your behalf. 

For more information on how Vertice’s SaaS Purchasing platform can benefit your business, click on the link and get in touch.

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Businesses spend over $150 billion annually on SaaS, across more than 15,000 software vendors. The odds are that you’re overpaying by as much as 20% per year for SaaS.

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