In this second extract from our SaaS management whitepaper, co-written with Trelica, we explore the continuing growth in SaaS application usage and the new challenges and opportunities this presents IT operational teams.
SaaS Management tools currently provide a wide range of capabilities designed to manage SaaS from multiple perspectives. From an operational standpoint, organizations will benefit most from a SaaS Management tool with the following features.
Without a high degree of automation, managing SaaS operationally is labour-intensive. Even if we conservatively assume that each new starter needs 20 applications provisioned it would be reasonable to estimate that it would take Service Desk or EUC upwards of an hour to provision them manually. And that’s simply setting up the necessary accounts. It doesn’t cover the process of identifying which applications that user needs or consider the overhead of notifying the user of their login credentials.
The automated workflows and user application profiles provided by some SaaS Management tools, including Trelica, speeds up this process and removes a considerable burden from already busy frontline IT staff. The new user becomes productive on day one and receives a positive impression of IT and their new employer in general. Automation also frees up frontline IT staff to focus on higher value deliverables.
As previously noted, SaaS usage moves pretty fast. In distributed organizations in particular applications will come and go. It seems that we are always on the lookout for the one tool to rule them all. It’s perhaps no surprise that the application category responsible for the most sprawl in organizations is task and project management software. Clearly we’re hoping that a new tool will magically transform our “to-do list” into a “done list”.
In modern organizations it’s often the case that centralized control by technology teams isn’t possible or isn’t seen as desirable. The old way of working in IT – preventing users from installing non-standard apps, restricting usage to a small number of IT-select applications, and so on leads to users subverting the system and an unchecked rise in Shadow IT. Adopting a “nudging” approach, whereby we give users more freedom but encourage them to make informed decisions about the applications they wish to use is a better fit for modern organizations.
This nudging starts with Comprehensive Discovery and Inventory which enables SaaS Management Operations teams to detect new applications as soon as they enter the organization. This early visibility enables engagement with users of those applications – to find out what they’re using them for, why they’ve switched to that application, what their long-term intentions are, and so on. In the case of Trelica, this engagement takes place via surveys. The outcome is a user-sourced and data-enriched picture of your IT estate.
Surveys can also be used to gauge user sentiment and satisfaction with applications and potentially suggest alternatives and improvements. By engaging directly with users about the technology they use, SaaS Management Operations collates vital data for use by stakeholders such as HR & IT Architecture. In this way we can also answer questions asked by the burgeoning discipline of digital or employee experience.
Nudging can also be used to help users make informed application choices. For example, if the SaaS Management Operations tool detects usage of Dropbox, the user can be notified that the corporate standard application for file storage and sharing is in fact OneDrive. This could also be done at point of request via integration with an Application Catalogue.
An Application Catalogue is a vital part of any SaaS Management Operations toolset. Catalogues enable users to discover applications which meet their usage needs and enable them to be provisioned. From a management perspective, application catalogues provide a means of understanding and controlling application diversity and sprawl. Apps can be catalogued according to whether they’re sanctioned/approved apps, or ones where usage is discouraged. Catalogues may also include pricing information, information for users on how to request the application, and the status of the application from a portfolio management perspective (for example, are we intending to grow usage of this application, or are we planning to sunset it?).
Reducing application sprawl, automating user provisioning, and engaging with users on their application usage habits can deliver significant business value, as illustrated by the case study presented in the full whitepaper.
For the full text of the whitepaper, including analysis of the stakeholders and processes needed to deliver an effective SaaS Management Operations program click here.