Don't Stop Believin' You Can Get Full Visibility into Your SaaS

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This is a podcast episode titled, Don't Stop Believin' You Can Get Full Visibility into Your SaaS. The summary for this episode is: <p>Your SaaS Management journey starts with one thing: visibility. After all, you can't manage what you can't see. Join us to learn why visibility is the foundation of great SaaS Management, how to achieve it, and why legacy tools leave you groping in the dark.</p><p><strong>Speaker: </strong>Julie Day, Staff IT Asset Manager at BlackLine</p>
Session introduction — Visibility into your SaaS portfolio
01:18 MIN
The Critical Role of Visibility in SaaS Management
02:11 MIN
"You can't secure what you can't see" — Unmanaged SaaS as a security risk
00:52 MIN
Expensing software for the business on personal credit cards
00:38 MIN
The struggle to see the big picture of SaaS management, discussing challenges and ERP systems for finance
02:27 MIN
Hope despite challenges and barriers to managing SaaS
00:58 MIN
Building a renewal calendar with Zylo
01:22 MIN
Zylo and direct integrations
00:47 MIN
Discussing data in Zylo using Salesforce contracts as an example
01:23 MIN
Achieving Breakthrough in SaaS Management: BlackLine's Success Story
02:05 MIN
Wins Blackline has seen with Zylo's SaaS management platform, creating the Blackline Software Catalog
01:27 MIN
Showing employees a software catalog they can use, making it accessible
00:33 MIN
Better partnerships and internal alignment
01:00 MIN
Four ways to get better visibility into your SaaS stack today
01:02 MIN

Julie Day: Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for joining this breakout session, Don't Stop Believing You Can Get Full Visibility Into Your SaaS. My name is Julie Day, I'm the IT asset manager at Blackline. And for those of you not familiar with Blackline, we provide solutions to manage and automate financial close, inter- company accounting, invoice to cash, and consolidation. We guide large- enterprise companies and mid- sized businesses on their digital transformation journeys.

Julie Day: Okay, so the agenda today, we are going to talk about visibility. So first we're going to talk about why visibility is so important, and why it's the foundation of SaaS management. We're going to talk about the struggle to see the big picture, which is where I'll talk about the challenges that I faced in SaaS management with limited visibility, and talk about my approach to SaaS management. And fourthly, Blackline's accomplishments. And lastly, four ways you can start getting better visibility today.

Julie Day: Okay, so we're going to talk about why visibility is the foundation of SaaS management. So, it all starts with visibility. You can't manage what you can't see, right? Do you know how many applications your company is using? Are you aware of applications that are expensed throughout the company, either on a corporate credit card or sometimes on a personal credit card? Do you have visibility into usage; being able to see what applications are being used and by whom? You can't take action. And when you can't take action, you can't control your software spend. You can't control the usage of unapproved applications. You might find yourself with applications that have overlapping functionalities or redundancy. And sometimes you might be paying double, you might have two applications that are doing the same thing. And you can't prevent license reclaims as well.

Julie Day: And lastly, you can't secure what you can't see. So, this could be a big risk to any company. Basically, if applications are being used that weren't properly vetted through third- party risk, it can cause legal issues. Possibly people, if they've purchased things online and haven't done it through the proper procurement channels, you don't know what terms they're agreeing to, if they do click- through terms. You may have dueling EULAs. Maybe the company has one EULA in place, but then you're agreeing to different terms for the same application on a company's website. And sometimes even, despite our best efforts, some of these situations come up.

Julie Day: Recently it came to our attention that we had a couple of employees expensing a certain software. And not only were they, they were expensing it on their personal credit card, but they were using their Blackline credentials, and using the software for Blackline use. When something like that comes to our attention, we have to make sure we get on top of it right away, and make sure that the application is secure.

Julie Day: Okay, now that I've talked about why visibility is so important, I am going to talk about the struggle to see the big pictures, so the challenges that I've faced so far in my career, and in Blackline with limited visibility. So I was brought into Blackline just under two years ago. It'll be two years next month. And I was brought on to basically head the application rationalization program. When I was brought on, Blackline had already implemented Zylo.

Julie Day: So at the beginning we had somewhat of a picture of what applications were being used across the company. But before I came on to Blackline, some of the challenges was that you would have to get, if you wanted to gather your data and get a bigger picture, you had to get reports from multiple sources.

Julie Day: For instance, from your finance team, your ERP system. You had to go in and dig for contracts, or trying to find and gain visibility of contracts. And all of this could be very time- consuming. So that's where Zylo came in to help, where we started gathering everything in one place.

Julie Day: Okay, lack of inventory oversight. We did not have one source of truth. We had many sources of truth, and we had to put them all together to gain an understanding of the bigger picture. And there was not one place to manage all of our SaaS applications. I know I've already talked about lack of visibility into software spend, but I do bring it up again because it's really important. As well as us having little insight into usage, and again, being unable to really have an idea of what applications were redundant. Did certain applications have overlapping technologies and functionalities?

Julie Day: So I am here to tell you, despite all of those challenges, there is hope. I promise there's hope. I'm going to talk a little bit about my adventure, maturing BlackLine's SaaS management program and the things that I have put into place to gain better visibility. This all starts with discovery. So the biggest starting point of discovery for your SaaS management program, or what I did at BlackLine, was to bring on a SaaS management tool such as Zylo. From there, you're finally able to see how much money you're spending on software, how many software applications are being used and able to have mostly a full inventory of what's out there, including applications that are being expensed either on a personal credit card or a corporate credit card.

Julie Day: Okay, so next came the data build out. So once we had the SaaS tool in place, I got busy collecting contracts, trying to get as many contracts as possible uploaded into Zylo. Once the contracts are in place, then we could build out a renewal calendar. So now everybody, including procurement teams and finance, was able to see what SaaS applications were coming up for renewal. I also was able to input data such as application ownership.

Julie Day: So now people within the company know who to go to if they have questions regarding certain applications as well as use cases. So the ability to know not only what applications are being used, but for what purpose. And then when I was done collecting all the data, so then I started looking for things like redundancy. For instance, we discovered we had six project management platforms, which was a great find because we were able to get those reduced to one over time. And then next I was able to take a look at usage across the company through Zylo.

Julie Day: So there's two different ways in Zylo that you can look at usage, one is through direct integration. Zylo can directly integrate with certain applications such as Salesforce, and it provides much more detailed information than, let's say, an application that's SSO- enabled. So now we have the ability to see not only that we're using Salesforce, but that the contract data pulls in, how many licenses do we own? The usage data pulls in, how many are currently in use, and how many are active? We can see how many people haven't used the application in the last 90 days, as well as information around managed packages.

Julie Day: So now we have sort of an overall picture of what's going on with Salesforce. And when we started this usage journey, we had about 30 applications that were enabled through single sign- on. That has since grown four times, which is awesome. So now I can go into multiple applications, real time at any time. And see who's using the applications, what departments are using them, and when was the last time they logged in? But with all this in place, SaaS management is not a one- and- done scenario. There's always ongoing monitoring that has to be done. So making sure that renewal contracts are uploaded on a regular basis, making sure the data doesn't get stale, looking for efficiency opportunities, and Zylo also gives the ability to pull reports. So now reporting has become part of my ongoing monitoring, being able to quickly pull a report on applications and usage, rather than having to pull five or 10 reports from different places.

Julie Day: All right. So now I'm going to talk a little bit about the wins that BlackLine has seen as a result of our SaaS management platform or SaaS management program. Okay. We've seen a return on investment four times in the past year, which has been awesome. And this is a combination of being able to identify applications that are redundant, and being able to eliminate applications that aren't in use, and consolidate applications that have the same functions. In Q- one alone, our team was able to reclaim 60K in licensed reclaims, which is awesome.

Julie Day: And again, talked a little bit about the SSO. So our 30 apps behind SSO has increased 400 to give us even more visibility in regards to our usage across the company. We've seen a 49% decrease in software spend. We were able to launch the Blackline Software Catalog. So The Blackline Software Catalog is a module, or it's the Zylo app catalog, it's the module that Zylo offers. And the employees can go into this catalog and they can see what applications Blackline offers as a company.

Julie Day: So we're not telling them that they can't use applications, we're actually showing them what they can use. So if a new employee comes on board, they're directed to the software catalog and they can see, oh, I need a project management tool. Okay, cool. What application can I use for that? Does the company have Tableau? What project management tool can I use? And since inception, since August last year, we've seen a 10% adoption in the software catalog, which is pretty cool.

Julie Day: And lastly, better partnerships and internal alignment. This has been huge. So now that we have one source of truth, I am able, and my team, they were able to align with procurement. We're now in alignment on upcoming renewals and strategies, and I'm able to talk to the business owners of various applications. And we can also talk about strategies, and if we want applications to be renewed and talk about opportunities. All over, big wins all around. So in conclusion, we've talked about why visibility is so important in SaaS management. I've talked a little bit about the struggles and challenges that I've seen in BlackLine. I've discussed my approach to SaaS management and what process that I go through, and then our wins and payoffs.

Julie Day: So lastly, I'm going to talk about the four ways you can start getting better visibility today. What do you think number one's going to be? Invest in a SaaS management tool. This is the most important thing you can do for your organization. It's a game changer. Being able to have full visibility and see what your spend is like, how many applications you're using.

Julie Day: And then secondly, SSO enablement. Being able to see that usage, and reclaim and reuse licenses instead of purchasing new ones. Centralizing your SaaS purchases. So being in alignment with procurement, having everything in one place and reviews done by consistent departments.

Julie Day: And then lastly, putting a process in place for monitoring your license utilization, which will help you save money.

Julie Day: So I wanted to thank you all for joining my breakout session today. I hope you have attended some other awesome sessions, and I hope you continue to enjoy your day, and enjoy SaaSME 2024. Hope you all have a good day.


Your SaaS Management journey starts with one thing: visibility. After all, you can't manage what you can't see. Join us to learn why visibility is the foundation of great SaaS Management, how to achieve it, and why legacy tools leave you groping in the dark.

Speaker: Julie Day, Staff IT Asset Manager at BlackLine