SaaS Management
Erin Geiger, Director of Content at Lumos

SaaS Management Solutions

Do SaaS problems require SaaS solutions? At Lumos, we think so—and our software is that solution. Learn how much easier SaaS management could be for your org.

How many SaaS applications are there on your desktop right now?

If we at Lumos had to guess, that number is probably somewhere between one…and a zillion. But the real answer is probably around 125. That’s how many SaaS solutions companies use on average, according to a 2023 report by Gartner. Yes, you read that right: 125 is the average. Which means you probably have more than enough icons on your screen.

But if you’ve got 100+ apps to keep track of, a crowded desktop is likely the least of your worries. Tech stack proliferation is real, and it comes with real problems, according to Bloomberg. But how does a company handle so many apps? We all know that juggling 125 things is a tall order, even for those of us who are many-limbed (we’re looking at you, Grievous). Not to mention, “juggling” and “managing” are two very different things—and the key differentiator is stress.

For SaaS operations, management is critical: not just optimizing your tech stack, but doing it in a way that’s sensible and sustainable. And we’re not talking about one or two apps here. We need to connect dozens of software solutions together. Is there even a way to do that without burning out your IT staff?

Well, as it turns out, there is a way—one that actually works. Enter SaaS management platforms: unifiers, connectors, and streamliners to help mitigate tech overload. SaaS management platforms provide security, automate rote tasks, and help forecast future software needs for the organization. We know, it sounds a little…XZibit-y (“You’re saying I need a platform…to manage my platforms?”). But, as you’ll find out, proper SaaS management can be invaluable—in more ways than one.

That said, exactly what is SaaS management? Better yet, what could it be with the right tools at your disposal? And how does one know which is the best SaaS management platform for their problems?

We’d hate to do this, but…

…keep reading to find out.

Let’s start by answering the question:

What Is SaaS Management, and How Does It Work?

For a company, SaaS management is exactly what it sounds like: managing the SaaS programs it uses. But what does that mean, really? To break it down further, let’s first define what “SaaS” means in this context. “Software as a Service (SaaS)” is any cloud-based app that users pay to access…but that’s a pretty broad term, and businesses aren’t using all types of SaaS solutions. For example, while Netflix is a SaaS application, an organization’s tech stack will probably not have Netflix (definitely no chill, either).

So, what kind of software do stacks actually use? Here are some more business-centric SaaS examples:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) | Tracking key customer data and partnerships
  • Examples: Salesforce, Hubspot
  • Communication | Instant messaging, email, and file sharing—internal and external
  • Examples: Slack, Microsoft Teams
  • Accounting | Streamlining and simplifying finances and forecasting
  • Examples: QuickBooks, Net Suite
  • Project Management | Keeping track of to-do lists, project progress, and deliverables
  • Examples: Monday, Asana
  • Human Resources (HR) | Managing employee data, recruitment, hiring, and much more
  • Examples: ADP Workforce Now, UKG Pro, BambooHR, 15Five

As you can see, businesses will typically use SaaS to either store data, automate rote tasks, or simplify operations. And as the world becomes increasingly digital, the need for e-commerce functionality makes software all the more important to business success. Keep in mind that these are just the most universal, simple SaaS examples; after all, that list above is about 120 software solutions short of the average number of SaaS programs businesses run.

Individually, each of these programs provides value to an organization. The problem is that we’ve hit a critical mass with technology: there are so many software solutions, each with their own functions, user interfaces, and unique learning curve. And while each of them focuses on doing a few things really well—such as customer management, accounting, or project management—the issue is that businesses need to do all of those things well. And here, dear reader, is where things begin to spiral out of control.

But thankfully, this is also where SaaS management steps in to help out. The key capabilities for SaaS management are as follows:

  • Secure | Protect sensitive information, such as customer data and company finances.
  • Streamline | Automate repetitive tasks, set schedules, and create organizational consistency.
  • Support | Provide education, connection, and resources around each SaaS the company has.
  • Share | Ease communication between SaaS platforms and the transference of information.
  • Save (Money) | See what software is actually being used, scrap the rest, and find gaps to fill.

Basically, SaaS management ensures businesses stay connected, streamlined, and running smoothly. This is critical as our work environments grow increasingly complex. Sure, technology helps make some of that easier, but only if all that technology can connect and communicate. Marketing departments aren’t the only ones who need customer data, and sales isn’t the only team that needs to know the numbers. This is why SaaS management is crucial to businesses—and why you should be profusely thanking your IT team, because they’re the ones doing it!

What SaaS Management Solutions Are There?

Usually, the best solution is going to be a management platform of some kind. Since organizations use dozens of SaaS programs, it would be nearly impossible to do SaaS management without some kind of software support. That’s where SaaS management platforms come in. The best SaaS management platforms can not only solve existing problems but improve the business overall by reducing…

  • Time spent, thanks to automation and simpler communication between software.
  • Costs due to cutting unused, unneeded software or work  processes.
  • Stress on IT workloads, onboarding learning curves, and operations overall.

SaaS management platforms (SMPs) address the added problems that come with using a lot of software in the workplace—an issue that is only getting more common. Employees have to know a literal dozen of software applications on average to do their job, a number that has doubled in just the past four years. And if a new employee doesn’t know even one of those software applications, that’s yet another thing to add to their onboarding to-do list, which is already about 5 dozen other tasks on average. But, with an SMP, you help cut down on software applications, simplify the training process, and make work simpler for everyone. Let’s discuss them a bit more to show how they work.

What Is a SaaS Management Platform?

A SaaS management platform (SMP) is a centralized portal where a company can keep track of all the SaaS solutions it uses. Here, it’s much easier to see all software the organization pays for, what it does, and how much it’s using (or not using) the software licenses.

Companies today use a wide range of softwares for different purposes, but it can quickly become difficult to know what all is in the mix. Plus, since most of these tools come from different developers, they don’t always play well together, which complicates work operations. And hold on, weren’t we using these to make work easier?

SMPs actually do make work easier—not just for employers and departments, but the IT heroes who manage company software stacks. If your IT team is less bogged down with managing softwares, they’ll not only be happier at work but also freer to address issues on the fly.

But Wait, Is Adding Yet Another SaaS Management Tool Actually Helpful?

We know, it sounds counterintuitive. We already have too much software; what is a SaaS-based solution going to do other than make the issue worse? Yes, it’s true that you’re adding another piece of software, but the difference is that SMPs are designed specifically for this issue. Companies are already suffering the effects of poor SaaS management—sometimes, in ways they don’t even realize. A report from Gartner highlighted critical takeaways for leaders about the state of SaaS management, which included the following:

  • You’re most likely spending too much money on software. Gartner estimates that out of all the software licenses businesses buy, about a fourth of them don’t even get used. That’s not to say that the software isn’t useful, though. In reality, this happens for a number of reasons, from poor implementation in the company to miseducation—or simply buying something that isn’t useful for that particular company. Which leads to the worst part about overspending on software…
  • You probably don’t even use (or need) that software in the first place. As a whole, organizations are massively underusing the software they pay for. In addition to that 25% of unused software licenses, some software vendors estimate half of licenses don’t get used to their full potential. A lot of software is just sitting on the desktop, adding clutter. Probably the worst part, though, is that companies are buying redundant software: solutions that do basically the same thing or serve the same purpose. “One for the price of two” is never a good deal.
  • There is a lack of understanding in what SaaS solutions do (or don’t do). Part of the reason businesses end up with redundant software is because they might mistakenly think one type of software serves a purpose other than its actual intended usage. As Gartner pointed out, “many people mistake SMPs for software asset management (SAM) and security tools for SaaS—such as cloud access security broker (CASB), security service edge (SSE), and SaaS security posture management (SSPM).” Technology is hard to keep up with, yet keeping up is crucial because….
  • Poor SaaS management can (and will) lead to cyber attacks and data leaks. Companies that don’t properly manage the software they use are five times more likely to experience a cyber incident or “data loss due to misconfiguration.” And in a world where cyber attacks increase every year—both in volume and sophistication—keeping the organization safe is paramount.
  • By 2027, about half of organizations will have SaaS management of some kind. That’s almost double what it is now, and as you can see, there’s several reasons for that.

There’s a lot more we could say, but essentially it boils down to this: companies in today’s world need SaaS management to survive. Without it, they are overspending, undersecuring, and ultimately left without a clue of how to fix either. Technology has become both the problem and the solution, but the key is finding the right technology to solve the problem—and SaaS management platforms are the right choice for the problem of SaaS management. (And not just because it’s in the name.) Let’s discuss why.

How Does a SaaS Management Platform Work?

SMPs work similarly to most SaaS solutions: they simplify, streamline, and consolidate work—in this case, the process managing all the software licenses a company owns. But perhaps a better question would be, “How does a SaaS management platform work for you?” To illustrate this, let’s use an example of a fictional business owner. We’ll call him…Drofo.

Drofo owns a business called Middle Planet Forces. Currently, this business uses three SaaS solutions—to support the accounting, marketing, and sales departments, respectively. Through these three softwares, each department has the tools they need to fulfill their individual roles. But as Drofo already knows, keeping departments siloed never works out, so he wants to ensure that the departments keep in touch and share information. This would have been a lot easier five hundred years ago, when business in the Middle Planet was much simpler…but now that every department uses a different software, staying on the same page is a much more difficult process.

So, what happens when Accounting and Sales need to share finance data but their Accounting SaaS and Sales SaaS programs speak different languages? Well, they do some research and find a fourth software solution—Communication Saas—that helps translate and share their data. Unfortunately, Communication SaaS doesn’t communicate with their Marketing SaaS (ironic), which means now the marketing team is left out…so they get a fifth SaaS—Project Management SaaS—that can store data from Customer SaaS, Accounting SaaS, and Sales SaaS in one place. Things are looking okay for Drofo’s business again, until local laws require him to add an HR department (yes, even Middle Planet has HR). This department gets its own software—HR SaaS—which has to interface with five other departments…aaaand you see where this is going.

Is SaaS a good thing if it’s creating yet another headache for employers, employees, departments, and IT workers? By the time it’s all said and done, Drofo’s business ends up with about 80 different software solutions (which is actually below average). And since most of those programs don’t talk to each other, Drofo’s employees struggle to share information, keep data secure, or operate the business. Let’s not forget the IT department, who’s up to their ears in bug tickets, training videos, and software questions from different departments. There’s barely any time left over to actually garden!

And then, one day, Drofo sees the light: Lumos, a SaaS management platform. While initially hesitant to add yet another program to the IT stack, Drofo and his lively leadership team quickly see how this software will actually reduce the tech overload. With Lumos, Drofo and his department heads can

  • Reduce average app cost by cutting unused licenses and redundant software.
  • Automate certain IT ticket requests, so the IT department can focus on other tasks.
  • Set up a digital “white wizard” that bars (and permits) access to information depending on users.
  • Speed up the auditing process for software licenses company-wide.
  • And much more!

After just a few months with Lumos, Drofo quickly sees the benefits to his business. Teams are less bogged down with work, employees are less burnt-out, and the company spends much less on software. On top of all that, his IT department is able to actually address tickets because their time isn’t spent managing mismatched softwares. At this rate, they’ll be ready to defend Middle Planet from Lord Shadow IT in no time!

How Do I Choose a SaaS Management Platform?

As you search for the right management solution, it’s important to keep in mind a few critical functions. Below, you’ll find some questions to ask as you browse through your options.

  • Can I manage all my different SaaS solutions from a single interface?
  • If so, does it integrate with my tech stack or offer customizable integrations?
  • Does this platform help me find sanctioned (and unsanctioned) SaaS use and cost?
  • Will this solution make things easier for my business?
  • …for my IT department?
  • …for me to communicate internally?
  • …for me to share important information?
  • Does the platform give me insights on SaaS spending, usage, and contracts?
  • Will this platform keep my data and company safe? Does it have…
  • …multi-stage approvals?
  • …time-based access?
  • …auditing tools?
  • Is the platform easy to understand, use, and teach someone else to use?

The questions above are a great litmus test for whether a SaaS management program is going to truly help your organization. But if the thought of finding software solutions alone still sounds scary, let Lumos be your guide through the unknown. We know the value of good SaaS management, and know how to equip your IT team with the tools to do their jobs well, easily, and with much less stress involved. If you’re curious to learn more about what we do and why it helps organizations succeed, feel free to schedule a demo or check out our resources.