Big companies have a problem lurking in the dark corners of their networked data ecosystems.
It’s called shadow IT, and it relies on your lack of oversight. Shadow IT is what happens when IT managers have no way of knowing about potential security vulnerabilities inside the business tech infrastructure because they are unaware of which devices and apps are connected.
Shadow IT is a fairly new threat, and much of it is born from the recent wave of SaaS products. Today’s workers search online for the tools they need to carry out various tasks, find SaaS solutions, and start using them straight away. Without the need to download and install software onto the company server, or call in the IT team to configure settings, employees can grant access permissions to any app they want to check out, and no one is any the wiser.
If it doesn’t work out, they try an alternative, sometimes without remembering to block the previous tool.
As a result, many large enterprises preside over a complicated web of SaaS apps. Making sense of it all with regular audits is a serious challenge, but it’s well worth the hard work to regain control over your software budget, streamline your tech stack, and tighten up your cybersecurity and data privacy profile.
If you need a little more motivation, read on to discover the deep benefits of regularly auditing your SaaS stack.
Stay in control of your software budget
When every department is using different tools, paying for them through different means, and juggling different renewal dates, it’s extremely hard to maintain full visibility into your software stack, causing wasted money and poor budget control.
Without proper visibility, you could be paying the licence fee twice for the same app without realising it: e.g. once for the accounting department using a business credit card, and once for the sales department using direct debit. You might also have two departments using different tools for more or less the same purpose, which means that you’re once again wasting money paying for two licence fees, instead of just scaling up one licence fee to cover more users.
Full awareness of exactly what you’re paying for and when you’ll be paying for it helps you stretch your pound further. One common issue is the choice between paying a monthly or annual subscription fee. A monthly fee gives you greater control over payments, and allows you to switch to a different tool at the drop of a hat. Spreading the cost over 12 months also improves cash flow. However, SaaS companies generally offer a considerable discount if you pay annually, like Wistia’s 20% discount for annual subscribers.
Monthly pricing (image source)
Annual pricing (image source)
When you know what’s going on in your tech stack, you’ll know exactly when the annual payment is due to go out and can budget accordingly, allowing you to take advantage of this discount without endangering your cash flow.
It also prevents you from feeling penned in by annual renewal dates, since you can prepare for upcoming payments and hunt around for an alternative tool before the renewal date.
Streamline your tech stack
If an organised desk is the sign of an organised mind, then an organised tech stack is the sign of an organised company. Auditing your tech stack reveals where work is hiding and resources are lying overlooked in yet another SaaS repository, so that you don’t end up with projects falling into the gaps between too many business apps.
Additionally, a streamlined tech stack encourages better collaboration, because everyone can share work and resources smoothly, without messages about corrupted files or unrecognised formats. Apps that integrate with each other create a SaaS infrastructure that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Visualising your stack in Torii (image source)
Choosing apps that can do more than one task saves your employees from wasting time switching between platforms, with all the loss of focus that comes along with it. That’s why 65% of business owners say they’re attracted to one-stop-shop business app suites. The more apps in use, the more alerts bombarding each employee, distracting them from their work and breaking their concentration.
Raise your cybersecurity profile
Perhaps the most significant benefit to auditing your tech stack regularly is that it will tighten up your cybersecurity profile. Companies can’t permit employees to grant business database access to every tool they fancy using, but they also can’t return to a time when workers were given a fixed IT toolkit, without the flexibility to add their own tools.
The only option is to implement a process whereby IT managers can quickly vet new apps, so that employees can enjoy approved software that matches their needs.
With today’s compliance regulations, data breaches can incur hefty fines of up to €20 million, not to mention undermining consumer confidence in your company and potentially destroying vital software and infrastructure.
Compliance regulations are more prevalent than you think; it’s not just GDPR in Europe, it’s also PIPEDA in Canada; POPI in South Africa; the Privacy Act in Australia; LGPD in Brazil; and more, amounting to data protection laws in 100 countries around the world.
Data privacy regulation has become a big deal (image source)
Ignorance about which apps have access to your confidential data creates a huge blind spot within which hackers and cyberthieves can attack with impunity – not to mention the fact that it’s difficult to demonstrate compliance if you’re not sure who can read your customers’ data.
All it takes to create a serious compliance breach is one former employee, with a grudge against the company and ongoing access to business apps. If you fail to fully offboard that employee from every portal and remote working tool, they’ll be able to leak confidential data, damage your business reputation, and incur massive fines on your company. If you’re not sure which apps they have access too, how will you be sure that you’ve closed them all off?
Auditing your SaaS stack is worth the effort
Auditing your company’s SaaS stack isn’t easy, but it is worthwhile. The benefits of regaining control over your software budget, increasing collaboration and productivity with a streamlined tech toolkit, and reducing exposure to hackers and data breaches far outweigh the effort.
With the right tools and a good helping of motivation, you too can audit your SaaS stack without tears.