Alpin is now CoreSaaS.
It’s a question more people at more companies are asking – what’s actually happening inside our cloud?
Intentionally or not, many IT departments have allowed “distributed software purchasing decisions.” Employees have signed up for, purchased, and expensed software independently. (And of course, a lot of SaaS subscriptions aren’t even paid.) As a result, SaaS has grown rapidly and is expected to continue growing in 2019. However, many IT leaders now wonder if some “collaborative oversight”* may be necessary to ensure security, compliance, and reasonable costs.
This guide will walk you through the necessary steps for managing all SaaS accounts or subscriptions. If you’re looking to garner support internally for such a project, check out our guide a Shadow IT cleanup initiative.
While you can attempt to follow the steps below manually using our free spreadsheet template, this guide assumes you would rather avoid mind-numbing, time-wasting manual efforts, and instead want to automate managing these SaaS accounts. To that end, we describe the process using Alpin – it’s what we built Alpin for!
* Most of our customers want to preserve their company’s distributed decision-making for using and purchasing cloud software, augmented with oversight in a central dashboard. And, Alpin opens up new methods of control or management. For instance, G Suite administrators can blacklist applications or revoke user access tokens directly in Alpin, after being shown the offending apps and affected users.
Table of Contents – Managing All SaaS Subscriptions
- Discover SaaS Applications
- Add More Information – Payments, Renewals, And More
- Organize Data – Tag Apps And Assign Owners
- Report And Investigate
- Bring In Other Departments
1. Discover SaaS Accounts
SaaS oversight has previously been difficult or impossible. Why? Too much data hidden in too many places. And no tools designed to automate and organize the uncovered data.
Now, Alpin offers over 12 ways to discover SaaS, including API integrations with leading apps, connections with SSO platforms, data extraction from accounting and expense systems, browser plugins, on-device agents, firewall log analysis, email scanning, and more.
Alpin not only discovers apps, but also organizes them. Our database has details on over 40,000 cloud applications, which means after discovery, we automatically categorize your subscriptions. After initial discovery, you’ll be able to see how many apps you have by category, per user, and more. Apin can show you how recently and how often apps are being used, and even what actions people are taking inside those apps.
Along with a list of applications being accessed, you can also see what permissions your users granted to apps. Some permissions pose significant security or compliance risks.
You can also integrate with cloud storage or email providers to determine what’s being shared outside your organization and if users are sharing sensitive information.
2. Add More Information – Payments, Renewals, And More
Tying subscriptions together with actual payment data can create a true dashboard for managing all SaaS accounts. Plus, this way finance or purchasing departments can better understand what users want to adopt, as well as where departments spend money on cloud software. There are many ways to optimize cloud spend from there.
Alpin can automate the collection of payment and renewal information or quickly organize and align payments to SaaS subscriptions on your behalf. Likewise, Alpin creates a custom renewal calendar for all of our clients that anyone in vendor management or FP&A may appreciate.
Documents such as contracts, license types, agreements, and other information can also be added to your Alpin dashboard.
3. Organize Data – Tag Apps And Assign Owners
Tagging enables custom reporting on any variable you can conjure.
You can tag and report on any subscription. Companies tag apps based on the cost range, billing type, compliance status, contract type, information sensitivity, legal entity, management level, geography… just about anything you can think of!
Additionally, department heads or any user within your organization can be assigned as the administrator or bill payer for any subscription. Wondering who handles a particular app? No one has to wonder anymore, Alpin knows!
4. Investigate And Report
Now that you have a wealth of data, dig in.
What kinds of shady apps or risky permissions can you find? It will likely be time to provide some helpful guidance to the users involved so they know how sensitive information could be exposed by, say, letting a Russian gaming site have access to their entire email inbox contents.
If you tag apps or users during this investigation, you can easily check up on them later by pulling reports on those tags.
And you will have other reporting options available as well.
Alpin’s automatic app categorization enables you to generate reports, answering questions such as: “How much are we spending on video conferencing apps?”
In addition to standard reports Alpin generates automatically, you can pull reports based on the tags you’ve created.
5. Bring In Other Departments
Managing all SaaS accounts can really bring your organization together. It provides a shared view and tool for your colleagues in IT, Finance, Procurement, and Compliance to do their jobs better and communicate about shared issues.
Check out some of our other blog posts where we cover how Alpin can help companies:
- Cut SaaS costs and optimize spend
- Enhance their security efforts
- Improve or support compliance
- Give procurement staff or vendor managers a robust research and management tool
If you’re looking to get more serious about SaaS, we have over a dozen ways to discover SaaS apps, along with financial, compliance, and security tools; contact us for a 10-minute demo. You’ll see how Alpin can work for you.