SaaS applications are everywhere. From managing tasks to logistics, SaaS apps are a boon for greater productivity, accessibility, and flexibility. And SaaS is ingrained in how we work every day.
But there’s a flip side. More SaaS apps means an increase in data sprawl, compliance issues, and security gaps.
With employees often working in silos, there’s not a lot of visibility into the entire SaaS stack. And without visibility, it’s difficult to assure the critical data processed by SaaS apps is protected.
One way (OK, the best way) to ensure a single source of truth and provide employees with efficiencies: a long-term, collaborative, and effective SaaS strategy.
Deciphering the challenges of SaaS ownership
Before coming up with a long-term SaaS strategy, knowing who’s procuring and managing SaaS apps internally is key.
That’s where SaaS ownership comes into play — but it’s complicated. SaaS owners, like finance, sales, and human resources, span multiple departments and each leverage SaaS apps differently. For IT and security teams, it’s even hard for them to determine if they should own SaaS management. And there aren’t any dedicated security professionals solely focused on SaaS security.
To figure out SaaS ownership, IT and security teams need to partner with app owners to understand their business goals, reasons, and pain points about why and how departments use SaaS apps. By doing so, IT and security teams can begin to map out the SaaS application environment. And collaboration is a vital first step.
Collaboration: The key to an effective SaaS strategy
Putting together a long-term, effective SaaS strategy requires collaboration. As much as IT and security teams must understand why a certain SaaS tool is important, SaaS app owners need to make configuration and management changes to reduce risk. Without cooperation, it’s impossible to keep up and maintain a strong security posture.
Here are four steps to start the collaboration process:
1. Initiate SaaS adoption discussions.
When it comes time to work with SaaS app owners, IT and security teams need to pose essential questions, like:
- Which apps are essential to your teams?
- Which browser extensions are most commonly used by your teams?
- How are you managing user and data access to these apps?
- What service level agreements (SLAs) can you commit to, so you can address issues and misconfigurations that affect your company’s security posture and finances?
2. Help your peers understand the big picture of all the SaaS apps across your company landscape.
Yes, SaaS applications are highly user-centric and offer lots of benefits. But SaaS apps often gain access to extraneous company and user data, expanding the attack surface.
Be transparent and explain the implications of uncontrolled SaaS sprawl (like, shadow SaaS and spend optimization) on the entire company.
3. Establish, review, and enforce company policies around SaaS applications.
Set up policies, like developing a foundation for how employees use SaaS, create thresholds around user privileges, and establish a clear vetting process for onboarding new SaaS applications.
4. Build a transparent, collaborative review process to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your SaaS strategy.
Recurring SaaS stack reviews should primarily focus on areas, including continually discovering shadow applications and users, obtaining utilization insights for the most critical SaaS apps, and tracking SaaS spending trends.
We take an in-depth look at what are some of the challenges across different departments and how a modern approach to SaaS management can streamline and improve your SaaS strategy in our latest ebook.