Why SaaS Management is a Team Sport

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This is a podcast episode titled, Why SaaS Management is a Team Sport. The summary for this episode is: <p>SaaS lives all across your business and responsibility for making smart SaaS decisions sits across a range of stakeholders - from the CIO and CFO and their teams down to individual employees and the business units. IT and Finance leaders at today’s most progressive organizations recognize this and are fostering true collaboration across their teams and the organization to efficiently and effectively tackle SaaS. In this panel discussion, hear how leaders at LinkedIn, Salisfy and Fresh FP&amp;A are fostering alliances across the organization to drive maximum impact with SaaS.</p>
Speaker introductions
00:39 MIN
Meet Shravya, Gordon, and Chris
01:35 MIN
How Gordon and Shravya are measuring their successes when it comes to SaaS
03:48 MIN
How Chris has seen varied companies addressing SaaS
02:23 MIN
Why does Chris care about SaaS
01:45 MIN
Gordon on CFOs and caring about SaaS
00:28 MIN
Who Shravya partners with to preach SaaS at LinkedIn
03:30 MIN
Who Gordon enlists as key stakeholders to scaling SaaS management in his experience as a CIO
02:21 MIN
Chris' advice to those teams struggling with procurement, reducing spend, and executive visibility
03:18 MIN
How did the business receive these SaaS management solution proposals?
05:40 MIN
Predictions on SaaS and spend management for IT
05:36 MIN
Q&A Questions
05:33 MIN

Corey: Here everybody is. I think everybody today is probably ready to hear from some of our customers, some of our advocates in the space. So, it's great to have everybody here joining us. Just to set this up very quickly, SaaS management is a team sport. You just heard me speak on orchestration of SaaS data, being able to set a framework to be able to organize, optimize, and then orchestrate your environment internally. A lot of great takeaways there that are really going to translate to the session today. I can't think of a better way to talk about SaaS management as a team sport than to bring together three unique perspectives in the industry. So without further ado, I'd like to introduce Chris Ortega, CEO of Fresh FP& A, Shravya Ravi, Manager of Asset Management at LinkedIn. And Gordon Atkin, VP of Technology and Business Platforms at Salsify. Something to note about each and every resources is we've got a cross- functional team here, finance, software asset management, and IT. So, we are so excited to hear your differing perspectives on SaaS management and why it is a team sport. So, welcome to all of you. I'd love for each of you to do a quick introduction of yourself, your company, your role internally, and then we can get kicked off from there. And I will start calling some folks out. So, Shravya, we'll start with you.

Shravya Ravi: Okay. Thank you Corey. Thank you for the great introduction. Very excited to be on the panel. Hi everyone, I'm Shravya Ravi. I am the head of software asset Management at LinkedIn. Prior to LinkedIn, I've worked at Cruz and Deloitte in various capacities, all within IT asset management and compliance. I'm very excited to be here today.

Corey: That's fantastic, and thanks, Shravya.

Shravya Ravi: Sure.

Corey: Gordon, you're up next.

Gordon Atkin: Yeah, Gordon Atkin. Thank you Corey, for the invite, and thank hello to everybody out there. I'm the vice president of technology and business platforms at Salsify. Salsify is a phenomenal company. Think of us as the digital shelf company. We bring brands and retailers together and we operate through the digital shelf. So, very excited to be part of Salsify, very excited to be part of this panel and to tell some stories.

Corey: Sounds great. And you guys all heard Meredith mention SaaSMe Unfiltered. Gordon will actually be on one of those episodes here in season two as well. So, thanks Gordon.

Gordon Atkin: Yep.

Corey: Chris, over to you.

Chris Ortega: Good morning, good afternoon, good everybody. I'm Chris Ortega, CEO of Fresh FP& A. And I have over 18 years experience in accounting, finance, FP& A and finance leadership, leading organizations from seed to startups to scale up to enterprise level companies. Really, really excited to be part of this conversation and be part of this great panel. This is going to be awesome.

Corey: That's great Chris. Thank you so much. Chris brings the fire, as do I in some circumstances. So, I've encouraged Chris, man, bring everything you've got for today's session. So, it should be a fun. Okay, so I'll ask a series of questions. I'll provide some direction on who can chime in, but feel free to open up the conversation among the panel as well. And I want to begin with just framing out your roles internally in your organizations today, especially when it comes to SaaS management. And we're going to start with Gordon and Shravya first. And the question really is, what is your function trying to accomplish? At its core level, what are you responsible for? What are the high level outcomes and KPIs that you measure yourself on today inside each of your enterprises? And Gordon, I will start with you.

Gordon Atkin: Yeah, there's two words that come to mind when I think about running a SaaS program. I heard your last session where you referred to it as a practice. I refer to it as a program, like it's an ongoing thing. And there's two words that really come to mind. One is transparency. I want to have transparency and visibility across the entire organization in terms of what we're spending our money on. Most departments know what they're spending their money on, but CFOs, IT leaders, procurement leaders, there's lots of people in the company that need visibility and transparency into what's going on. The second word that comes to mind is discipline. Recognizing, again, how much money is spent on software SaaS, specifically within organizations. We need to have a discipline. Oftentimes, let's step back a decade or two ago, when SaaS wasn't around, and there was a lot of rigor around capital spend, and there's a lot of rigor around that. Introducing SaaS, that rigor has become less and less. And so reintroducing rigor and discipline back into what we do is something that I really try and focus on.

Corey: That's fantastic. Gordon's been a two time customer of Zylo's in each stop really just gaining visibility and then implementing that practice internally. So, listen to what he says. He's pretty experienced in the space. Shravya, you are in software asset management. I'm so excited about your program and where it's headed. Please share with the audience your role and how you're measuring yourself, especially as it comes to SaaS.

Shravya Ravi: Absolutely traditionally SAM has always been mostly on- prem. With the spend moving from on- prem to SaaS, it's an area that we have to start paying attention to, so have long term and short term goals. But I think for the short term, like Gordon said on his first point, the transparency, the visibility is what's most important, because when you look at app owners, they actually know what they're spending money on, but there might be three other app owners spending the same money on the same thing. We just need to get that visibility throughout the organization. So, the first goal is to get the visibility. And that, in turn, when you tell a story using the data and other things like day policies and everything else, it just helps drive organizations make better informed business decisions. That's the long term side of it, but a lot of these decisions come in the form of software rationalization. It could be reclamation policies for application owners, improved budget management compliance from a security point of view, that's huge, cost savings opportunities, chargebacks within the organizations. You have a single application for the entire org, you charge back, you know what each org is spending. There's a lot that comes from it. So overall, operational efficiency is what we're looking for in terms of SaaS spend.

Corey: That's great. I love how simply you put it. It's discovery, it's visibility, it's owning the data. Now, that doesn't mean that you can't say, one minute later, we're going to do all of these huge initiatives down the road, but you've really got to nail those fundamentals. And you're off on that journey at LinkedIn, and we're super excited to be partnering. So, that's great. Chris, all right, let's talk. You've headed up finance at multiple organizations in a fractional CFO role, so I really am interested in understanding your varied perspectives and your experience dealing with SaaS and OpEx. But how do you see most of the companies that you're working with addressing SaaS, especially now given a little bit more of a tighter economic environment going on? How is that being handled as you look across your portfolio now and historically?

Chris Ortega: Yeah. Yeah. So, I've been both a practitioner, as well as a fractional CFO in managing companies. And this is always, to me, I think... When you look at the overall, and I know CFOs talk about numbers, this is a 4. 5 trillion spend that we're talking about, based on what Gartner expects the SaaS spend to be. So, this is a huge, what I consider a greenfield opportunity. When CFOs are... We've seen the Fed raise interest rates about a week ago. We see the uncertainty around the economic climate, the globalization piece of it, things going on in Europe. When you look at opportunities to make an immediate impact... Corey, from your last session, you talked about people is typically the first place that a lot of traditional CFOs go to in terms of how they manage their spend. But one thing that I've seen is the ability to centralize your SaaS spend and really operationalize and really get your hand around it, and getting to this overall topic and bringing in your IT, bringing in your HR, bringing in your marketing, bringing in the other functional areas to be part of the conversation to say, what makes the most sense for our organizations both around SaaS spend, but where do we have opportunities to streamline to scale and to optimize that? This is one of the biggest opportunities that CFOs have to really make that immediate cashflow impact in their business. And it's traditionally not the first place that people go. So, I look at that. And I've been inside organizations where you've got spend on company credit cards and expense reports, and you've got it all over the place. So, I think to me, really, what Gordon said, having that transparency, having that visibility, but throwing that collaboration and throwing that overall connection to a strategy that you're driving inside the business, that is where you really, really see finance teams partnering inside the business making this successful.

Corey: Yeah. Chris, great response. Quick follow up there. Why? Why do you care about SaaS? Why do you care about OpEx specifically? And you hit on it just a little bit, but maybe expand on that a little bit. What does OpEx mean to you internally, Chris, in all of the enterprises in which you're working?

Chris Ortega: Yeah. So, OpEx, whether you're a startup, scale up, or enterprise level organization, really... And this is such an important conversation because a lot of the finance people, all about finance community, you're probably working on your OpEx budgeting right now. You're probably working on your first task. You probably got Friday, that first conversation that you're having around budget. What better way to bring the value to the conversation by saying," Look, we have this operational spend in different pockets of our organization. How can we lead a strategy collaborating together to make sure we're having, A, the most efficient products and solutions, B, making sure we're making immediate impact in the short term?" That's the most important thing, is you can operationalize this, having a partner to look at your contracts, to be able to make sure you're getting the best pricing, to be able to make sure that you're monitoring and tracking the usage and performance of those SaaS solutions. You're getting all the rigor that you would take in that budgeting process that you would do for people headcount, for capital spend. You're taking that same framework that finance organizations are used to and applying it to a huge opportunity inside your business to make those short term, medium term, and long term impacts. I think that's the most important thing. Managing your SaaS spend is not just a short term," Well, put a bandaid on it." This is a long term strategy, and having a partner to help you in those different elements along that journey, that's why it's important for CFOs to be thinking about this.

Gordon Atkin: Let me jump in there, if you don't mind. One of the things that I think CFOs and others care about is they do care a lot about managing risk. And until what your footprint and what your exposure is, it's hard to really know where your risk and where you're exposed, especially from a security perspective. You might have applications where there's personal information that's being shared, and you don't know about it. So, there is a component of risk that I think CFOs do care about that they want to make sure that is being mitigated and managed properly too.

Chris Ortega: Definitely.

Corey: Totally agree there. Chris, I'm going to keep coming back to you. What we see right now across our customer base in the industry is budget season. You just mentioned it. And the CFO is handing out tasks, either keeping budgets flat or reducing budgets today. And who do they go to? They go to their CIOs and say," Here's your task. Go figure it out." They go to procurement teams and software asset management teams and say," Here's the task." And it's IT finance role to be able to own this data. You've got to be able to own the data to be able to drive those outcomes. However, you've got to have a team to put it all back together, kind of the focus of this conversation today. Shravya, I'd love to get your perspective on... You're not going to be able to drive total SaaS management within a SAM framework success on your own. So as you think about what success looks like over time for you, who do you enlist across the organization to help you accomplish your goals? Who are the critical folks that are part of your program that you're rolling out today?

Shravya Ravi: Yeah, sure. Fully agree that it has to be a highly, highly collaborative initiative. It's just cannot be done in a silo. I think the first thing that comes to mind is executive sponsorship. That has to be there. It's the biggest win if you can get it, because when it comes top down, in terms of this is how we are going to operate as a business or as a company, it's more likely to be followed. In addition to that, once you do have that executive sponsorship, then it further sets into motion whatever work that we can do with finance teams. That is one team that we work with closely for budget monitoring. What's budgeted? What is our spend looking like? And taking that information and passing that on to our procurement, sourcing, and vendor management teams. That is a critical area because they work closely with legal, which impacts how our contracts are being written down. And then also... We work very closely with application owners. These are like... We don't go after every single application application owner, the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your spend is on 20% of your vendors. We go after the top ones. We work closely with the application managers to get usage information. Yes, we talk a lot about spend, but the usage side of it is also really important. What percentage of people are actually using it? A lot of times, you see a lot of unused licenses. How do you actually get those back? And how do you structure your contracts in a way that you're able to get that and retain your money back? That sort of a thing. And then we also work with our security organization to bring up expense software that has not been through a security review. I think that's a big win, at least for the risk side of things that Gordon was mentioning. Everyone cares about the unknown risk. A lot of organizations, overall, it's definitely not in a silo. There's a lot of," Oh, we need resources. We need to do that," a lot of project planning and program planning. But yeah, that's what we are doing right now.

Corey: That's awesome. Rolling out a brand new program from the ground up, leading edge enterprise level work is something that LinkedIn should be commended for. I love that you are on the front end of defining the next era of software asset management. Gordon, you've come into organizations in a CIO capacity and immediately started to look for that visibility into your environment. As you've set up SaaS management a couple times already, who do you enlist in the organization to be your key stakeholders and your partners in crime as you start to drive optimization at scale?

Gordon Atkin: Yeah, there's three kind of key personas that I look for. Number one is the kind of that FP& A persona, and who, at that level, is going to really help us understand the spend from a budget perspective. Where are we allocating the dollars across the organization? And even in that exercise, sometimes your FP& A or finance people aren't aware that there is spend for a vendor across multiple business units. And so having that conversation with your FP& A partner is really, really important. The second key persona I would say is procurement. And procurement, I'll use very broadly because there's a lot to it. There's the negotiation side of it. There's the renewal side of it. And there's just how do you manage contract terms and conditions and things like that. So, the procurement persona is really critical in making sure that you've got a procurement flow that you can scale with the organization and will help you reign in the costs and the controls that you need to manage that spend. And then the third persona, I will say is more of a broad persona. It's what I'll call the stakeholder persona. And that's why I love the title of this panel, this session, is it truly is a team sport. When you really get into the motion of managing SaaS spend, everybody in the organization... When I say everybody, you're going to have key personas within different departments that are going to take a lead role to say," Here's how I care about the spend for my department. And here's how we're going to evaluate it for marketing. Here's how we're going to evaluate it for engineering, for product." And that stakeholder persona really becomes a key part of that team, giving them access to the system, giving them transparency and visibility into what's going on, and again, the discipline that you're trying to generate across the entire business. So, I try to enlist as many people as I possibly can. I think that when you bring together more and try to operate as one versus one trying to operate as many, there's much more power in that.

Corey: Yeah.

Chris Ortega: And Corey, I would add to that too. So, speaking to those small to medium sized CFOs that are looking at me right now and saying," Chris, I got a team of two people in my finance organization. How am I going to bring procurement? How am I going to bring all these different stakeholders?" The best way that you can do this is, now, you've got a partner. Imagine having a partner that can help you in that procurement process to say," You've got these set of SaaS solutions. I don't have a dedicated procurement person on my team, but I do have a software partner that can help me negotiate, that can help me on the renewal side, that can help me bring in the contracts." So, one thing that... I've been able to manage finance organizations that are small from three persons team all the way to 60 people teams in the organization. This is where bringing in the partnership element, not only identifying like a company that can help you manage and get... But actually get you the pricing and help you fit some of those personas. I've been part of SaaS teams where we go hire a partner that helps us negotiate, helps us bring in that batteries included knowledge to help fill the gaps in the personas that we don't have in the organization. So, I think for those CFOs out there that are managing those small businesses, get you and build great partners. That gets to my first point that I mentioned earlier. That's like the tactic of, how do we reduce spend? You've got to have partners that will help you drive that strategy inside the organization as well.

Corey: Yeah, partnership is huge. I've always had a theory that CFOs lack visibility into SaaS certainly, but OpEx in general, which is why they hand down the task to the CIO. And they say," Go reduce budgets and get it down to this number," and we're doing an initiative to get that done. Is the prepaid report really the trigger that gives the CFO visibility into some of the SaaS, or that's being purchased in your environment? Where else would the CFO go to get any of that data today?

Chris Ortega: The number one place to go to is not the prepaid report. It's your accounts payable. Go look at the bills. Go look at the money. Go follow the money. One of the best ways, and one action line of that I'll give every CFOs right now, if you want to start getting just held around your SaaS spend, go deep dive into your accounts payable. Why would I tell you that? Because that's where every dollar's going out. Where's all the dollars going out? Where's the money? Where's the money going? Now, you have a way to be able to identify that and say," Man, we're spending this so much in this solution." How are we using that? How is this actually providing productivity? One thing that I've seen come across the pandemic and diving into the specific AP side of the business is you see all these different other point solutions that people just," Hey, we haven't get our people to be productive, so we allowed our organization to get the platforms and size solutions that they needed to be efficient and effective in their job," but there was no rigor around it. There was no highway around it. Go deep dive into your AP, identify those core vendors, and begin getting in those partnerships and having those conversations to say," Does this SaaS solution really make the most sense for the long term of where we're going for our organization?" Those are the key pieces of it. And that's where you uncover some of those hidden gems.

Corey: I feel like this is the power squad that we need to assemble in an enterprise to just drive the best SaaS management that's out there, but it kind of relates to my question a little bit. Shravya rolling out SaaS management in a brand new way. Gordon doing the same thing. Shravya, we'll start with you. How did the business receive your initiative? How did these cross functional stakeholders, the application owners, your finance and procurement teams... You're rolling something out that requires that team sport mentality. How did they receive that, and how did you really start to get them on board as advocates as part of the program?

Shravya Ravi: Yeah, sure. The first... I think this is common to everyone. The first answer we usually get is we don't have resources. It's a common theme everywhere, but it's also important that we talk about why we are doing what we are doing and how it's going to impact how we do business, not just from a cost savings or whatnot perspective, but also the risk perspective. So, if we talk about reaching out across the table to," Hey, we need this help from you, and this is how much help we need," for me, it's always first, execute a sponsorship again. Second, once you actually get the execute sponsorship, it's a prioritization exercise. How high up in the priority list are we? Sometimes not always at the top, but I think depending on the stakeholder, we get there. Sometimes it's a waiting game. Sometimes it's," Put in a ticket. We'll look at it." So, influencing some of that withheld power, if that makes sense, is one of the key things that we do. Again, outside of that, building those relationships, prior to even looking at SaaS as a management, like SaaS management program, letting them know," Hey, this is what we do for SAM on- prem, and we can translate this to a SaaS cycle.

Corey: Sure.

Gordon Atkin: Yeah. Let me elaborate a little more on that, Shravya. I think one of the things that you said early on, getting executive sponsorship is one of the key areas that you can focus on to enable that across the organization. Corey, as you alluded to, I'm at my third company where I've kind of run into a SaaS management effort. And in the very first go around, which was back in 2015, I think you'll have to remind me of the date, but it really was pulling teeth. There was people... There were people who were interested in, what are we spending our money on? Where do we have opportunity to consolidate, reduce, save money? And then over time, my responsibility was to continue to educate and help the team understand, okay, not only are we going to do this as a point in time exercise. I'm actually going to hire people to do this full time. So, we actually put a job posting out there and we said we're going to hire a software asset manager to try and focus to make sure that they're paying attention to the key data points and practices that we wanted to implement. At company number two, it was almost like I came in, it wasn't implemented, and it was like my expectation that we kind of stand up the same thing. Now, we didn't have the opportunity to really do it as well as the first company, but everybody understood that it was an important exercise in terms of getting visibility to where we're spending more money on. This third company now at Salsify that I'm at, I'm entering the game where people are coming to me. And so I think what you're seeing is this transition from an IT led or even a procurement led to it is a cross- functionally led effort. In fact, I had one of my FP& A leaders set up a meeting with me saying... And the title the meeting was SaaS management, what are we going to do? This wasn't me going out and saying, what are we going to do, because it was the FP& A leader? And that was the first experience that I had somebody non IT who was really leading that charge and that conversation. So, I really feel that you're starting to see that transition of it becoming much more important, not just to IT, not just to finance, but it is coming across the entire organization. And I really believe that exec executive sponsorship is really important.

Chris Ortega: And Gordon, if I would just add on this. I love what Gordon just said. A lot of times when you look at the office of the CFO, what they've done is that, they see the ad, maybe it's like that one expense line item and it's like software. And you see it, and you're like, reduce that number by 30% and go get it. It's dismissive. But taking it back to the strategy, if you understand and help people understand what's in it for them, why is it important and where are we going... There's a classic analogy I always use when I lead finance organizations. If you want to move fast, go alone. If you want to move further, go together. Those are the conversations. You got to get down with the business and speak the language of what it be means to be a chief marketing officer and why they have the solutions. Help me understand that. So. I think putting the ABCs into the C office of the CFO, the always be curious aspect of it and connecting the dots between why it's important, what's in it for that business partner, and here's where we're going together, that is where you see those top echelon office of the CFOs and finance professionals really, really, really driving this spend management strategy.

Corey: Got to get down with the business. Let's go, Chris. I love it.

Chris Ortega: Get down with the business on the business. Get funky with the business. Got to dance with them.

Corey: That's right. It is a dance. Okay. We've actually got some good questions coming in., But before we jump into those questions, a round robin question for each of you. I think you were all thought leaders in the space and you've got a great perspective on what's to come. And we're all starting to plan and budget and forecast for 2023, calendar 2023. So, I'd like for each of you to look into your crystal ball. What's one prediction you have for SaaS and spend management for IT and finance leaders as we look at 2023? And I will begin that. Shravya, I think you're on the hot seat.

Shravya Ravi: The first thing that... Well, the only thing, at this point, that comes to mind is, with the macroeconomics and everything else happening outside of this, you got to pay attention. You have to start looking at the data. You have to tell a story using the data, and it's very, very important that something come out of the data that you're looking at. That's where I see, at least for the next one year. Everyone's going to start paying attention, but it's also what you're going to be doing with whatever you are seeing. I think that's important. It could look like, hey... It could also look like changing how we do business internally. Do we give everyone what they need, or do we scale back and say you got to make do with one or two applications. Starting thinking about it in a big picture way.

Corey: Yeah, I like that. I think I was talking with someone earlier today where for software asset management, finance and procurement, you've really got to focus on what your core competency is and become even more focused. I think there's always a natural sense for finance, SAM, procurement leaders to say," Well yes, we drive efficiencies and optimization, but we do all of these other wonderful things." And I think now, it's time to refocus on your core competency. It's super bowl time. It's time for everybody to be a part of bringing a company along in the right way. So Gordon, for you, what do you see for SaaS management and spend in 2023 for SaaS?

Gordon Atkin: Yeah, I've got kind of two that play off of each other. I think the main one is playing off the macroeconomic environment. My first experience with running a SaaS management program was really focused on inventory that later became a cost cutting exercise and having targets around cost cutting. So, while a CFO today might say, to Chris's point, go and cut 30% out of this, I think that there will be real targets for companies to say, go and save X percent of your SaaS or software spend within an organization, because a lot of companies are going through that motion of letting people go. Some are evaluating their priorities and evaluating what they have available to invest with inside the organization. So, having a real target, and that's going to vary by industry is going to be I think something that will happen, if it isn't already happening with some organizations. The other one that I would say is that I'm seeing more traction of is procurement teams becoming part of IT, because there's such a close connection to what they do. The majority of SaaS spend in SaaS organizations, it's all software. It's all technology. And that relationship with CIOs and leadership is really key. And so I think that CIOs, I think really, at least I do. I care a lot about the procurement practice, and I tend to find that the procurement practices aren't as valued, to some extent, outside of IT and finance. And so I firmly believe you'll see much more of either strong partnerships or reporting lines directly into CIOs with the procurement teams.

Corey: I think that's great. And we do see that today. You'll see procurement tightly aligned with it super early in their growth story, in their maturity. Then sometimes getting away from it, and then being pulled back. And in huge organizations, large enterprises that we work with and I've worked in the past that will have dedicated IT procurement teams. Couldn't agree more with that. And I think as we look at the folks that are leveraging Zylo to drive optimization. We see, Shravya, software asset management and procurement playing very different roles, but also playing very complimentary roles in the organization, because optimization, demand management, staying on top of all of your investments is critically important to both organizations. So, that IT and finance use case around managing software as a service just really shines through. And Chris, what about you for 2023, where do you see things going? As I mentioned, you've got that varied perspective, so I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Chris Ortega: Man, for me, this is a tremendous time for the office of the CFO and finance leaders to really bring a tremendous legacy. Finally, we have the opportunity to give the business what they need. We need to be great collaborators, we need to bring great communicators of the strategies and tactics that we're implementing, we need to bring clarity to our software spend, and lastly, build that connection inside the organization. To me, that's what the business needs. That's what the business has. That's what the business always demanded. And now, it's our opportunity to meet that demand and over exceed. So,, to me that is where I'm really looking forward and challenging all those finance CFO leaders on the call right now, bring that collaboration, that communication, that complexity and driving clarity, and also that connection. That's our task.

Corey: That's right. Okay. We've had several questions submitted in the Q&A, so I want to throw a couple of those out here. First, to start off with, and Shravya, I'm going to ask you the first one. The question's a great one. Deeni said that I noticed Shravya kept saying... I'm curious to understand if there's an ideal ratio between size of SaaS management team versus number of SaaS apps and company size. And for you that size of SaaS management team is your SAM team. For some of our customers, that might be Sam plus VMO. Before LinkedIn specifically, how do you see that ratio of size and your stack?

Shravya Ravi: Great question. So yes, it is the SAM team, but we also have on- prem duty. So, it's, again, shared. We do have one dedicated person for our SaaS management. But again, it goes back to we are not going after every single thing in the stack. You don't want to go after lower spend, lower risk. There's a classification that we actually go after that looks at what is the risk of this? What kind of software is this? What is the spend? And how many people are using it? And based on that, we prioritize. So, I mean there's no correct answer for what that ratio is. It really depends on how fast you want to move and how fast you want to cover all of your SaaS environment. At this point, our priority is higher risk, higher spend applications, so we are making do with one.

Corey: Yeah, and that's.... As I give a little bit of perspective across our customer set as well, we have large enterprises with one SAM resource. They're able to focus on the higher level spend or the governance issues. At a macro level, do you have the right app size, the right app environment and number of applications? Are you leveraging them all appropriately at the highest level? How much shadow IT is entering to your environments? Things like that. But as you start to move up, we have customers that have five to 10 person SAM teams. That's when they're really able to start the renewal process and the right sizing licenses kind of programmatically, as I talked about earlier in our optimize phase. And then we have teams that are 50 plus employees. VMO sometimes combined with software asset management, that's when you are creating a unique full view into your applications, how they run internally in your organization, and certainly putting in place optimization that is programmatic and done across all or a large set of your applications. So, we see all of it, but the importance is that you get started. You begin the visibility. You start to identify where those opportunities are. You build the bridge from SAM to finance to it and make sure everybody is cohesively working together, because it's a distributed category. Gordon, I'd love to follow up with you on the next question, which is sometimes IT and finance the best collaborators. Why do you think IT and finance aren't collaborating as well as they could be today? And what is holding them back?

Gordon Atkin: So, I'm going to issue a challenge to everybody. If you haven't played prisoners' dilemma, go play that game, or at least understand the premise of the game. The premise of the game is basically we win together, we lose together. We're one team. And so, my experience tells me that often when IT and finance aren't on the same page is because they have different agendas. They're not really seeing eye to eye on the priorities of the company. And that needs to change. I think that IT leaders really need to look into the finance org and not just consider them a customer. It's deeper than being a customer. It's deeper than being a partner. It's like you just have to be intimate with that people, with that team and get on the same page in terms of how you want to operate and manage SaaS spend because it is a large line item in the financial statement. So again, I would encourage people to play some team building games, if you're not on the same page. Try and get to the same agenda. Don't really think of it as a us versus them. It's more of a we, and how are we going to win together?

Corey: All right, we've all got some homework. Chris, take us home. What are your thoughts on that?

Chris Ortega: Yeah.

Corey: What's preventing that collaboration today?

Chris Ortega: 100%. I think it's around relationship building. Too many times finance... Any good relationship and any good business partnership that's creating value is built on two core competencies, trust and competency. Do I trust this person, and are they smart and competent in what they do? Where do you think most finance organizations go when they partner inside the business, with sales, marketing? We go through the competencies, we go to our budgets, we go to our sales, we go to the IT organization and say," Hey, software spend is up 30%. You need to go reduce that," versus go build the trust. Go meet the business where they are and speak the business language. Stop speaking your US gap, your "i-fers". You're going to lose that. IT people are super smart. Marketing people are even smarter, right? But when you start leading with the competencies, when you're not building that trustful business relationship, that's where you get that friction. So, go listen more, talk less. Don't lead with your Excels, and build on building the trust of that relationship, not the competency.


SaaS lives all across your business and responsibility for making smart SaaS decisions sits across a range of stakeholders - from the CIO and CFO and their teams down to individual employees and the business units. IT and Finance leaders at today’s most progressive organizations recognize this and are fostering true collaboration across their teams and the organization to efficiently and effectively tackle SaaS. In this panel discussion, hear how leaders at LinkedIn, Salisfy and Fresh FP&A are fostering alliances across the organization to drive maximum impact with SaaS. 

Today's Guests

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Shravya Ravi

|Manager, Asset Management at LinkedIn
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Gordon Atkin

|VP, Technology & Business Platforms at Salisify
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Chris Ortega

|CEO at Fresh FP&A
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Cory Wheeler

|Chief Customer Officer and co-founder at Zylo