It's extremely difficult to optimize procurement management for all SaaS tools and vendors at once — but that's what a lot of organizations try to do when they have multiple SaaS solutions in their portfolio. As a result, they create one-size-fits-all strategies that don't effectively address any specific area. This is a total nightmare to manage effectively. Unfortunately, many procurement leaders jump straight to blaming their processes or technology for their lack of success, when a simple strategic shift can make the difference they need.

When we start working with an organization, they often have multiple SaaS procurement areas to address. We have a process that helps them:

Define the unique needs and specifications for each software category.

Develop targeted RFPs that accurately reflect the identified requirements.

– Conduct a thorough and objective assessment of vendor proposals.

Use benchmarking data to negotiate favorable contract terms and pricing.

Leverage automation and AI to streamline the procurement process.

After reading this post, you'll have a solid understanding of how to use a structured approach to the SaaS procurement management process.

What is Procurement Management?

Definition: SaaS procurement management is the process of purchasing and managing SaaS tools for an organization. It involves identifying the company's software needs, evaluating potential SaaS vendors, negotiating contracts, and ensuring the smooth integration and operation of the acquired SaaS solutions. Often, when you're dealing with 150+ SaaS tools at once, you're faced with a number of challenges:

  • It's difficult to keep track of all the tools being used, who's using them, and how much they cost.
  • Different departments signing up for their own tools can lead to redundant purchases and wasted spend.
  • With so many tools in use, it's hard to ensure that each one meets your organization's security and compliance requirements.
  • Getting all your SaaS tools to work together seamlessly can be a major headache, leading to inefficiencies and frustrated users.
  • Staying on top of multiple contracts with different renewal dates, terms, and pricing can be a full-time job in itself.

To overcome these challenges, you need a structured approach to SaaS procurement management (which we will cover in the following sections)

Benefits of Procurement Management

– Reduced IT burden

By shifting the responsibility of software maintenance, updates, and support to the SaaS vendor, you allow your IT teams to focus on more strategic initiatives and core business activities.

– Cost savings

Through centralized SaaS procurement, you can better negotiate pricing and terms, avoid duplicate subscriptions, and identify underutilized licenses, leading to cost optimization for your organization.

– Increased agility

With a well-managed SaaS procurement process, you can quickly acquire and deploy new software solutions to meet your evolving business needs, improving your overall agility and competitiveness in the market.

– Improved user experience

By ensuring that your employees have access to the right tools and applications they need to perform their jobs effectively through centralized SaaS procurement, you can increase productivity and user satisfaction within your organization.

A Foolproof Framework for SaaS Procurement Management

1. Identify requirements

Defining your SaaS procurement needs and clarifying specifications is a prerequisite to the sourcing process. By the time you get to the supplier selection phase, you should already have clearly defined requirements. Planning your SaaS procurement strategy is part of IT supply chain design—it should happen before sourcing kicks off, and the 'whats,' 'whens,' 'hows,' and 'whys' should be outlined in a concise SaaS procurement plan.

To determine what SaaS solutions to procure, ask yourself:

What is the goal of this SaaS procurement?

What you want to achieve will determine what you should buy. Consider what business outcomes would be most impactful, then work backward to identify the SaaS capabilities needed to realize those objectives. 

– What is your budget?

Your spending power will influence SaaS procurement specifications. Consider what funds are available, then define requirements that optimize value within those cost constraints. Think holistically about the total cost of ownership, not just upfront subscription fees. Factor in elements like:

  • Per-user license costs
  • Implementation and integration fees
  • Training and change management 
  • Support and maintenance
  • Scaling and add-on functionality

Defining budget parameters upfront helps you craft realistic, achievable SaaS procurement specs. Some examples of well-defined SaaS requirements include:

– Cloud-based CRM for 500 global sales users

– 99.99% system uptime with max 1-hour recovery  

– Seamless integration with ERP and marketing automation

– Mobile-first design with offline capabilities

– SOC 2 Type II and GDPR compliance

The more specific your requirements, the better your odds of finding an optimal SaaS solution.

Related Reading: SaaS buying has become complex and expensive. It doesn’t have to be

2. Create RFP

With your SaaS requirements thoroughly defined, the next step in the procurement management process is to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit bids from the vendors market. An RFP is a formal document that outlines your SaaS sourcing needs and invites potential suppliers to submit proposals. The goal is to collect the information needed to rigorously evaluate competing solutions and select the best-fit SaaS provider.

To create an effective SaaS RFP, be sure to include:

Organizational background

Provide a brief overview of your company so suppliers understand the broader business context. Highlight details like:

– Company history and mission

– Products/services offered

– Key customers and markets served

– Competitive differentiators  

– Digital transformation objectives

SaaS procurement overview  

Explain the specific SaaS procurement need and why you're going out to bid at this time. Recap the background of the category, such as:

- Current SaaS providers and contract status

- Spend trends and forecasts

- Pain points and improvement objectives  

- Relevant stakeholders and decision makers

- RFP timeline and process

Requirements and specs

The meat of the RFP - clearly state the full scope of your SaaS procurement needs, including: 

- Functional and technical requirements

- User personas and projected volumes  

- Integration and data migration needs

- Security, privacy, and compliance standards

- Service level agreements and support model  

- Pricing, licensing, and contractual terms

Evaluation criteria

Inform suppliers how you will evaluate,such as:

- Mandatory requirements vs. nice-to-haves

- Weighting of factors like functionality, usability, security 

- Evaluation methodology like weighted scoring or POCs

- Negotiation and best-and-final-offer (BAFO) process

- Contract award and implementation timeline

Doing all this in-house sounds like too much work? Spendflo’s Flo AI has got you covered. It generates custom RFP templates and analyzes proposals in a snap, helping you find the perfect match without the headache.

Want to give it a try?

Generate custom RFP Templates in minutes

3. Evaluate options

After the RFP deadline passes, it's time to dive into vendor proposal evaluation—the process of assessing supplier responses to select the best-value SaaS option. Don't underestimate this critical procurement management step. First, review all proposals for completeness and compliance. Eliminate any that fail to meet your mandatory SaaS RFP requirements. With the qualified bids identified, it's time to dig into detailed evaluation. Assemble a cross-functional team of stakeholders to review the proposals through their unique lenses, such as:

– IT: Technical specs, architecture, scalability

– Security: Access controls, encryption, monitoring

– Business users: Functionality, usability, adoption

– Procurement: Pricing, risk, innovation

– Legal: Ts & Cs, data protection, IP rights

Ask the evaluation team to score proposals objectively against the pre-defined RFP criteria. Use a consistent methodology like weighted scoring to enable equitable comparisons. For example:

– Functional fit and user experience (30%)  

– Technical architecture and security (25%)  

– All-in cost over contract term (20%)  

– Implementation and support (15%)  

– Innovation and value-add (10%)  

Now, shortlist the top 2-3 SaaS providers for additional due diligence. Schedule deep-dive demos and trials to pressure-test critical use cases. Always, aim to select the SaaS solution that offers the strongest overall value to the business, not necessarily the cheapest sticker price. 

4. Data-led negotiations

You've selected a top contender - great! Now it's time to enter negotiations to align on the final SaaS contract. Start by building a granular, bottoms-up view of SaaS provider costs to establish your walk-away position and BATNA. Key inputs often include:  

– Product development and hosting

– Sales and marketing investments

– G&A and profit margins

– Cost of capital and expected IRR

Next, arm yourself with ample market intelligence. Research forces shaping supply and demand in the SaaS category, such as:

– Venture funding and IPO activity  

– M&A and competitive landscape shifts

– Software and cloud spending trends  

– Emerging technologies and use cases

Use data visualization to depict potential outcomes and gain stakeholder buy-in. When you let data lead the way, procurement management becomes simple.

💡PRO Tip: You can now make SaaS buying decisions based on user sentiment data using Spendflo’s sentiment score map.  This helps you build a SaaS stack that works best for your employees. 

Choose the right products with Spendflo Sentiment Survey


Get visibility into your SaaS

5. Include Automation and AI (+how our product Spendflo helps)

Your job doesn't end after the contract is signed; frankly, that's when the real procurement management process begins. Once the ink is dry, it's crucial to continuously monitor and optimize your SaaS investments to ensure you're getting the most value for your money. 

Here’s how Spendflo’s AI features can help with your procurement management process:

Map your costs to your SaaS based on your accounting tools

Streamlines and optimizes the entire SaaS procurement management lifecycle, from spend analysis to vendor management. 

It uses advanced algorithms to categorize and analyze your SaaS spend data, identifying areas for optimization and savings. FloAI also provides intelligent persona mapping to ensure that your SaaS solutions align with user needs and behavior. 

Try Flo AI now!

– Smart Scan makes contract management a breeze.

Auto-fill SaaS contracts with FLO A

Smart scan automatically extracts every line item and data from your contract and maps the price and product details across the platform to ensure absolute clarity on all clauses. Your contracts are automatically sorted into long-term and monthly tabs for easier access and analysis

Try Smart Scan now!

What should you do Now?

Whenever you’re ready…here are 4 ways we can help you with your SaaS procurement management:

  1. Claim your Free Saving Analysis Plan. One of our procurment experts will understand your current SaaS stack and then provide you with a practical SaaS saving analysis action plat that you can use to streamline your procurement management and save up to 30%
  1. If you’d like to learn the exact procurement management strategies we use for free, go to our blog or visit our resources section, where you can download guides, calculators, and templates we use for our most successful customers.
Ajay Ramamoorthy
Senior Content Marketer
Karthikeyan Manivannan
Head of Visual Design
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