There are so many different cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions available today that things can begin to get quite confusing for businesses, especially during growth periods. Not only is there an overwhelming number of options to choose from in each category, without a strong app management plan in place, but it can also become an even bigger hassle to manage all those apps simultaneously. Of course, bigger businesses have entire departments dedicated to monitoring and managing cloud-based software services, but what about smaller companies? Can the very services that they are using with the hope to be more efficient as a business work against that goal?
There is certainly potential for that to happen, as subscribing to a number of services without proper management, interlinking, and monitoring plans can get out of hand pretty quickly. To keep that from happening to your own company, read on as we share a few tips that will help you manage your business’s cloud-based services with an affordable strategy. The focus will be on ensuring that the maximum possible benefit from each paid business application is attained.
Make a Checklist
It may sound rudimentary, and it most certainly is, but you would be surprised at how efficient this ancient trick is for managing SaaS services. Create a checklist based on the following factors:
- A list of basic features that every modern company needs, such as email clients and a dependable CRM
- An advanced list of features which are specific to your own industry or company, such as an eCommerce builder or a specialized real estate application
- The list will likely need to be modified and expanded often, but keeping it updated is key
After making the list of necessary services or features the business can from benefit the most, select vendors who can provide any one or preferably multiple of the required services in one package. The general idea should be to minimize the number of software vendors so that the checklist never becomes too confusing. It also helps to keep the costs down when you buy more from the same software provider.
Once the business is inflow and multiple cloud-based services are working with your company, use a proper cloud app tracking and security services such as Microsoft’s own Cloud App Security solution, or McAfee’s MVISION Cloud. We will discuss more about the utility of similar software solutions later on.
Unify Your Cloud Applications
A unified platform where all your business apps work in perfect rhythm with each other could be considered as a dream scenario for increasing productivity. Unfortunately, not all apps work with each other so harmoniously because the two might be competitors, or perhaps they are simply two incompatible solutions, not originally designed to work in synchronization with each other.
PieSync has mostly solved this issue by providing a single unifying platform, where a large number of business applications (233+) are supported for two-way synchronization. For example, the client company can simultaneously set up MailChimp, Microsoft Outlook, and HubSpot to work with each other on PieSync. Learn more about how to set this up on piesync.com, and your company could soon be using numerous apps from one single platform. Each of the supported apps will synchronize with and augment each other to boost productivity, improve ROI on marketing budgets, and manage customer data in the most efficient way possible.
Since different cloud applications are used by different departments, delays are common, but a unified platform with two-way sync support could reduce such delays down extensively. The unification will help separate departments to work in better sync with one another, streamlining the business process as a whole.
Prevent Shadow IT and Save Costs
Shadow IT generally affects two types of organizations; large enterprises and medium – small businesses. Enterprises are too big to be able to micromanage every cent spent on IT with absolute accuracy all the time, but they always narrow them down eventually. Medium-small businesses, on the other hand, are just large enough to be affected by shadow IT and might also be ignorant about its existence altogether.
Tracking those useless services down and unsubscribing from them is essential to manage costs better, especially if your business belongs to the SME segment. Large MNCs can afford to pay for shadow IT without even feeling it, but SMEs can’t claim the same. Make it a routine to go through the checklist to identify the services your business actually needs, along with the ones that you cannot recognize to be of any importance. Use the 365 Cloud App Security service from Microsoft or similar software from any of the other reputed vendors to stay informed about all cloud applications that are currently charging your company. In fact, they should warn you about the risk factors associated with each of the services, along with detailed reports to help you understand which of the SaaS solutions are the most useful, and which ones are just sitting there in the shadow, eating away at the company funds.
Check with IT
If you have an IT support team, talk to them regarding your findings and see if their answers can satisfy you. In case the IT department/management service cannot provide you with satisfactory answers, the chances are pretty high that you are probably losing money on shadow IT.
This can be a result of intentional fraud by the outsourced IT management service provider or your own internal IT team. However, this can also be a sign of poor management on their part rather than being an intentional fraudulent attempt to leech money. In either situation, it’s the business that loses money by paying for services that it has no practical use for. The situation should be treated with severity if it is found that the top executives were not even aware of the expense, which technically makes the activation of such a service an unauthorized breach of protocol.
Shadow IT can also be nobody’s fault, as malware kits pretending to be legitimate software service providers are not uncommon on the cloud either, which presents one more reason as to why keeping track of every connected application with an enterprise-grade security app is mandatory.