saas
September 27, 2022

A guide to tracking employee SaaS usage

Companies worldwide are embracing SaaS to increase the productivity of their workforce and thus increase business profitability. But unmonitored SaaS buying leads to SaaS wastage and leaky spends.

The first step toward mitigating wastage is to get data on SaaS usage. The challenges are endless, from checking how many SaaS apps your employees use to checking active licenses and users to tracking duplicate apps. 

In this article, we’ll share what SaaS usage is — the benefits, challenges, and how you can track your SaaS usage.

What is SaaS usage?

Simply put, SaaS usage is the process an organization follows to know how much their employees use their SaaS stack. This process helps increase efficiency, transparency and decreases security threats and costs associated with shadow IT.

The more centralized the SaaS usage data process is, the more effective it is. To be successful, avoid using outdated app tracking spreadsheets because they don’t show you real-time usage insights.

It's best to use a SaaS management tool to help you analyze granular insights such as active users, licenses, and usage for each department. 

This way, you’ll get a better return on your SaaS stack.

Why is it important to track employee SaaS usage?

According to Statista, in 2021 alone, companies were using 110 SaaS applications. From the same report, this number has been increasing since 2015. Some of these are never approved by the IT department.

Tracking the usage of the apps can help you get detailed visibility into your usage and use those insights to save on your SaaS spending and minimize security threats.

You’ll get visibility on:

  • The number of SaaS applications in your organization
  • The number of overused or underused apps
  • Team-wise usage of SaaS
  • Duplicate apps
  • Team member who owns the app purchase
  • Number of active users versus licenses purchased
  • Last time the team members used the SaaS app

Access to that usage information allows you to forecast and plan your SaaS budget.

 

Benefits of tracking SaaS usage

Tracking SaaS apps use creates a long-lasting system focused on helping you save on SaaS spending. Here are three benefits you can expect:

Minimize security vulnerabilities

There’s a high rate of usage of unauthorized cloud services within organizations.

In most cases, employees who use unauthorized apps that the IT department doesn’t approve, do so without intending to harm their employer

And because of this, they can’t be sure if these apps are secure. It introduces security risks to the company, such as unauthorized access to the company’s sensitive data, data leaks, and compliance violations.

Tracking your employees' SaaS usage minimizes those risks. Because you'll have a central approval process that will help you know the number of apps and users in the company and if those apps comply with the company’s regulatory requirements.

You’ll also have a granular view of how your employees use the SaaS application.

Save resources

Most organizations face the problem of underutilized and unused applications and licenses. In addition, with so many SaaS apps in an organization, tracking their usage is challenging.

But with a SaaS usage tracking management process, you’re able to:

  • Detect duplicate apps and eliminate them
  • Identify the number of underutilized apps and licenses

For example, you’ll be able to identify how different departments use their similar apps that serve the same purpose. For instance, your product and marketing teams might use Asana and Aha for project tracking, while the engineering team might use Jira.

After identifying that problem, you’ll be able to talk to the teams and decide which app is more efficient to use and discontinue the license of the others.

This way, you manage your SaaS spending and save money for other crucial business plans.

Reduces unnecessary administrative work

An employee SaaS usage tracking process helps increase the productivity of your core departments. Here’s how:

  • Procurement
    The procurement team can get information like service usage from specific departments and users. In addition, the team can leverage SaaS usage data to negotiate existing SaaS renewals.
  • InfoSec
    The InfoSec department can help reduce SaaS security risks by tracking the SaaS tools employees use and check whether they comply with the organization’s security policies.
  • IT department
    With the employee SaaS usage tracking process in place, your IT team gets SaaS visibility to enhance certain privileges and access control through a proper identity authentication process. 

They can retrieve information and see which apps employees have subscribed to without approval. They can also see which SaaS applications were used by former employees and reallocate the respective licenses.

Challenges within SaaS usage tracking

The move to tracking your SaaS usage comes with several challenges. The top two challenges are:

Low barrier to SaaS entry

SaaS apps are easy to sign up for. Apps like Dropbox and Slack are available at the click of a button. 

And this causes high shadow IT problems in most organizations. Once employees discover better communication SaaS than the officially approved one, they begin using it. 

Fear of causing employee disengagement

The reason employees use unapproved apps is that they’re looking for ways they can work more efficiently. And in today's workforce, employee choice is vital in enhancing employee retention, engagement, and happiness.

How to overcome these challenges

The key is to embrace decentralized buying by employees while still maintaining high-level visibility on all things SaaS in your organization. This is possible by using a SaaS buying and optimization platform like Spendflo, which gives you a consolidated view of your SaaS stack, streamlines approval workflows and helps track SaaS usage. 

Tracking usage is one cardinal method that helps identify leaks in your spends.  

How to track SaaS usage

To understand how to track your SaaS usage, you need to know what metrics to measure.

  • Licenses
    This is the most basic level of employee SaaS user management and measurement. Identify the number of seats you’re paying for, and track to know how many you currently need. Keep in mind that you don’t need to keep additional inventory on hand like the classical approach to software license management. With SaaS, license codes and physical discs aren't necessary. 
  • User logins
    You can consider this as an extension of tracking the licenses because it helps give you good SaaS visibility. For example, your IT team might assume every marketing department employee needs a subscription to HubSpot, Survey Sparrow, and Mailchimp. But once login tracking is done, it reveals that only a few marketing department employees manage those applications. Hence this makes it easy to remove excessive subscriptions.
  • Department 
    Each department or team gets an overview of the apps they use compared to the overall SaaS stack. Vice versa, each tool’s department-wise usage helps you discover the org-wide application. Tracking the usage of your apps using the above metrics can be a simple process if you implement a SaaS management tool like Spendflo that can help you to:
  • Track all your SaaS tools in one place and get visibility into your SaaS expense.
  • Drill down for granular usage analytics. For example, monitor usage for each department or user and bring visibility across the organization.
  • Gather data on unapproved expenses and rightsize your spending by cutting down on unused or excess licenses.

A SaaS management tool like Spendflo will help you remain within the SaaS budget you set for the year.

Steps forward

No matter the size of your company, checking SaaS usage can be hard work. But it doesn’t have to be tiresome spreadsheet work. And you don’t need a SaaS management tool that makes everything even more tedious. 

With Spendflo, you can track all your SaaS tools usage in one place. You’ll make informed decisions by monitoring usage by users and departments. This way you’ll rightsize expenses to pay for what you only used.

Vaishnavi Babu
Content
Karthikeyan Manivannan
Lead Graphic Designer

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