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IT Leaders Struggling with App Visibility, SaaS Management

Ownership and administrative responsibilities of SaaS have become scattered, with little cross-team collaboration and lack of visibility into the cloud app ecosystem.

Inadequate collaboration between teams is leading to mismanagement of software-as-a-service (SaaS) implementation, leading to wasted money and time, according to a Torii report.

Meanwhile, 60% IT professionals surveyed said they are in the dark when it comes to understanding their cloud app ecosystem, the "The State of SaaS at Work Report: Collaboration in a Distributed Workplacefound.

Related: Business IT Leaders Look to Reduce SaaS Spend, App Sprawl

The survey queried 300 IT leaders about the effects of decentralized app purchasing on collaboration and SaaS management, finding only 20% of IT pros regularly collaborate with other departments on critical SaaS management tasks.

This is despite 90% of IT leaders praising their level of collaboration with other teams around SaaS management.

"This is concerning because there is a clear dissonance between how well IT thinks they're working with others, and how well they are in reality," said Torii's co-founder and CEO, Uri Haramati.

How Poor Collaboration Leads to Inefficiencies in SaaS Management

Poor collaboration results in organizations losing significant amounts of money on apps and licenses, wasting time, and creating info silos that lead to poor decision-making and inefficiencies, Haramati said.

"In today's distributed workplace — and volatile economy — businesses can't afford substandard SaaS management," he said. "SaaS has completely changed how we work."

With cloud apps now much more accessible and easier for any employee to trial, purchase, and integrate, app ecosystems are more fragmented than ever.

And with employees continuing to subscribe to cloud applications at will, app portfolios have become scattered, and information on application usage and spend is stuck in dark data silos.

"This means that IT, as well as finance and procurement teams, don't have a true view of what's going on," Haramati said. "Manually tracking apps in static Excel sheets doesn't cut it anymore. It's simply not possible for any organization to stay on top of every app they have."

Without a real-time, centralized view of every single app used by every single person, organizations are opening themselves up to unnecessary risks from shadow IT and wasted resources.

"In today's cloud-powered workplaces, SaaS is a team sport that brings together everyone from IT, procurement, and lines of business to finance and security," Haramati noted.

With this shift, IT teams need to evolve their mindset from a centralized command-and-control culture to more of a "team coach" approach.

Collaboration Is Key to SaaS Management

When it comes to forming a plan to improve app visibility, IT teams and SaaS stakeholders throughout the organization need to work together to proactively discover and manage distributed apps and spend.

"This is the only way to have a truly collaborative environment and successfully tackle the challenges inherent in distributed environments," Haramati explained.

Related: Policies for SaaS Apps, Shadow IT Prove Difficult to Manage

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies and employees have deployed SaaS at record rates to adjust to remote/hybrid work, he said.

"Now cloud applications are the workplace, and most work takes place in home offices where people operate much more independently than in the past," he said. "Now anyone can be an app owner."

People outside of IT and procurement make decisions on which apps to use and then go and acquire them on their own, often without informing IT.

"In this distributed model, information on apps, usage, and costs live with the app owner, or with the department in which the owner works," Haramati said.

This has created information silos with no single source of truth for app visibility — all of which makes it impossible to see all the apps an organization has on any given day, where redundancies — and potential cost savings — exist, and which apps and user access issues are putting the company at risk, he said. 

From Haramati's perspective, the first step toward creating an effective strategy for SaaS management is for organizations to acknowledge that managing SaaS properly is critical to their business and to their bottom line.

They also need to realize there's no way humans can keep on top of all the apps and all the users on their own.

"Many companies don't understand the extent to which shadow IT exists and, therefore, the extent of their problems," Haramati said. "They don't know who is really using apps, and which licenses are assigned but not used. They don't know how much money and time they're wasting."

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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