How to Choose a SaaS Management Platform

This guide will provide you with an overview of the key software-as-a-service (SaaS) trends, how those relate to SaaS management challenges and resulting capabilities organizations should consider as they look for SaaS management platforms. This guide can also provide you with key talking points when discussing the need for a SaaS management platform with your organization’s decision-makers.

There are several SaaS application trends that can impact the feature set you may be considering for a SaaS management platform. Depending on other toolsets used in your organization, some of these trends may bring to light new requirements to mitigate risk and safeguard your organization.

SaaS platform packaging and pricing

Free trials and freemium models

Many SaaS vendors are leveraging free trials and freemium models to drive end-user adoption, in the hopes of it leading to an expansion opportunity down the road. The problem for organizations is the freemium model can often require end-users to expense the costs of these tools on their credit cards, as more and more capabilities are utilized. Free versions usually are launched without vetting the applications with their IT security team. There while there are many applications on the market that are free for individual users, it’s no longer free once a critical mass of users at the domain all on the software. This results in users either out of compliance, or surprised with a bill.

SaaS security

In late 2022, Snow Software surveyed 1,000 IT leaders and found the top issue with SaaS management is security. The main challenge with security for SaaS applications is the ease with which anyone can sign up for a SaaS application, use any credentials they decide, and upload any company data. Take for example Trello. According to this article, the “free” version of Trello actually claims IP rights for any content, code, and/or property shared within the app. How many organizations want their IP walking out the door?


Customer retention

SaaS applications are sold under subscription models and retention is critical to the vendor’s success. To ensure retention, vendors often offer customer success assistance, a technical account manager or health-check services. These services are designed by the vendor to ensure you are getting value from the software and to drive product usage or expansion. This is a great idea in practice, but it is important to know if all users are obtaining the same level of value or if it is a subset of users, so you are not paying for a higher level of subscription than what most users need.

Capabilities to look for in a SaaS management platform

The biggest challenge for managing SaaS applications is a lack of visibility. With frictionless SaaS trials, demos or purchasing, 80% of application spend is happening outside the purview of IT teams. The resulting impacts of having little to no visibility include:


Given these challenges, here are some of the recommended capabilities to seek out in a SaaS management platform.

Comprehensive SaaS discovery and SaaS usage data

There are multiple methods for discovering SaaS applications and we recommend using multiple methods to achieve your goals. Here’s an overview of each SaaS discovery method.

Browser extension

Cloud access security broker

Identity management connectors

API connector

Financial data


Data normalization and augmentation engine

Data recognition and normalization services provide complete normalization of SaaS applications, clearly identifying important information such as manufacturer, application name, SKU, license metric, license requirement, suited or bundled application, and UNSPC (application type).

The value of having a verified application database is if you are using multiple data sources to manage your SaaS applications, you’ll be able to normalize and reconcile this data into a logical view. Without an engine that can recognize, augment and clean data from multiple sources, you’ll have to spend hours manually reconciling data to ensure accuracy.

And with data augmentation, you’ll be able to bring in additional details, such as application type, to help you perform important analysis, such as application rationalization.

Ability to match costs to allocated SaaS licenses and SaaS usage

Once you bring in cost and usage data, you can combine these sources to start identifying optimization opportunities. Optimization impact will vary, depending on data sources used.

Flagging risky applications and monitoring usage

Other considerations when choosing a SaaS management platform

Your organization’s business priorities: When identifying the must-have requirements for your SaaS management platform, align to your organization’s top priorities. According to a survey of IT leaders, the top C-suite initiatives in 2023 include optimizing IT costs and reducing security risks.

IT Priorities 2023

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