Flexera logo
Image: What exactly are your SaaS users doing (or not doing)?

Do you ever wonder what happens after all the excitement from a new SaaS tool dies down?

Recall the countless SaaS launches you’ve witnessed.  To start, a manager or director approaches you about the hottest new platform that’s going to have a major impact on his or her team.

The selling points are generally the same: everything is one place, everyone can access the tool centrally, saving the business time and money.  Budget for the SaaS platform is approved, and there’s lots of commotion around the launch.

And then what?

Processes are instituted, and users log in and try them out.  Some find success with the tool, some find bugs.  Many eventually abandon the platform.

That’s right – 31% of SaaS licenses are abandoned.  With many (if not most) SaaS platforms charging on a per user basis, that’s a sizeable chunk of change to pay for an unused product.

As the ultimate owner of SaaS licenses for your business, how can you get a better understanding of what your SaaS users are doing (or not doing)?

First, make sure you have an idea of all the SaaS tools in your arsenal.  If this is your biggest hurdle, you’re not alone: over half of IT professionals admit that they have sub-optimal control of their suite of SaaS providers.

If you don’t have a running list of SaaS vendors as part of your broader SaaS governance policy, here are a couple good starting points.  Check your own SaaS logins, any SaaS-related charges on your corporate cards, and touch base with department heads to make sure you know all the SaaS platforms they are using.  Compile a list and share it out to insure you didn’t miss any major players.

Now that you’ve got a list of names, understand how the SaaS platforms are used.  Some will be pretty easy – they’re so ingrained in your business vernacular that you won’t even have to think twice about them.  Salesforce for customer relationship management, WorkDay for human resources and financial management, and Docusign for contract signatures: these are all easy platforms to understand.

For less clear-cut examples, ask the departmental owner of each SaaS tool for a bit more input.  A quick conversation or even a brief walk-through will quickly get you up-to-speed.

Once you know your SaaS landscape and how your business is using each platform, the real work begins.  It’s time to define what different usage levels mean to you.  The most basic usage levels to start with are user logins.  Which users are logging in, and with what level of frequency?  What’s your threshold for an account to be considered abandoned – 30 or 60 days, perhaps?  Is the threshold different based on the platform?  Salesforce users are generally expected to log in every day, while WorkDay users may only log in once a month.

Beyond user logins, it’s up to you to determine what’s optimal vs. suboptimal usage of any given SaaS tool.  Take Salesforce for example.  Let’s say there’s usage across several departments – sales, customer service, and support.  The sales team uses it to track prospective deals coming through the pipeline, customer service uses it to record existing customer status, and support uses it to for customer-related issue management.  So you end up with 3 very distinct usage patterns for one SaaS platform.

Here’s where your departmental owners can be really helpful.  Can they tell you how many sales calls should be recorded, how many customer updates are expected, or maybe how many issues each support rep should be entering on a monthly basis?  With these projections, you can create your own usage benchmarks.

IT Asset Management icon

IT Asset Management

It all starts with knowing what’s in your IT ecosystem. Flexera One discovers even the most elusive assets whether on-prem, SaaS, cloud, containers and more.

Armed with your SaaS usage benchmarks, you’re ready to dive into the data.  So get ready to log into each SaaS tool….and start running usage reports.  Each with a distinct set of user data that can’t be compared to the next set.  For each of your 50 SaaS accounts.  There’s the reason you haven’t done this yet.

If you’re lucky, some percentage of the SaaS vendors you use may have an API that will push usage data to you.  All you have to do is call the API, and determine a way to digest the data in a viewable, comparable format – easier said than done.

Understanding SaaS usage at a per-vendor level may seem straightforward – if you’re a manager responsible for 10 sales reps and have the time to look at each user’s activity individually.  For the broader enterprise with lots of SaaS providers, it’s an insurmountable task.  Sign up for the Meta SaaS newsletter for more tips on how to gain control of your SaaS landscape.