Essential Metrics for Tracking SaaS Subscriptions

Tracking SaaS Subscriptions

With SaaS subscription-based software expected to continue its exponential growth, managing this growth is increasingly important. The following is a list of metrics to begin tracking your SaaS Subscriptions. We also created The SaaS Management Spreadsheet to bring these metrics together.

These should help you get started tracking your SaaS Subscriptions, and we hope you will contact us when you are looking to automate these processes.

Discovery

First, you want to find your SaaS subscriptions. Most companies have a great deal of Shadow IT. Whether or not your employees are hiding them intentionally, these apps can be difficult to uncover. There are many ways that these subscriptions can remain hidden and your mission, should you choose to accept it, is finding them all.

You can start with a manual process, for example by asking people or looking at expense reports. That will uncover some of the apps in use across the organization. You can up your game by using an automated discovery tool like Alpin, which can discover all your apps using a variety of methods.

Whichever method you choose, you will want to collect the general information of each of your SaaS subscriptions. Here are a few data elements that you should track:

  • App name (if you have multiple contracts with one app, you will want to make sure each name is unique)
  • Subscription level
  • License type
  • App owner or administrator(s) (functional and financial)
  • Department (to assign a cost center)
  • Category (type of app)
  • Paid or free
  • Location of contract details

Cost / License / Renewal Management

Once you have a working list of your apps, the next step is to begin tracking your costs and contracts. Through accurate tracking of these subscriptions, you can increase efficiency and significantly reduce costs. Proactively managing these contracts will improve budgeting, help you achieve SaaS license compliance, as well as give you the upper hand in negotiating renewals.

The more Saas apps you have, the more work it will take to keep a lid on costs. Tracking SaaS subscription renewals can be a huge task that costs lots of time and resources (not to mention stress) when done improperly. It may feel like incoming signups and renewals are a never ending game of whack-a-mole.

Automation can eliminate this time-intensive and error-prone process. Alpin can help you cut SaaS costs by up to 30%, manage renewals, ensure license compliance, monitor and archive activity, get notified about important events, and more. You can govern all your SaaS applications in one dashboard, avoid surprises, and negotiate smarter.

Cost metrics to track:

  • Purchase date
  • Renewal date
  • Cancellation date (i.e., “give notice” date)
  • Cost driver (how this subscription charges you, e.g., based on number of users, GB storage, contacts stored in the database, flat fee, etc.)
  • Units purchased in your contract
  • Units provisioned
  • Provisioned and active users (to identify under-utilization)
  • Wasted spend from under-utilization
  • Active users who were not officially provisioned (to identify over-provisioning)
  • Financial exposure from being out of license compliance due to over-provisioned users
  • Billing frequency
  • Billing timing
  • Total cost
  • Payment history
  • Total historical and projected costs

Advanced metrics might include:

  • Cost per employee in various departments, locations, etc.
  • Projected total costs if hiring increases by X% in a particular department, location, etc.
  • Wasted spend from redundant/duplicative applications

Security

Extensive research on the security of your active apps, and what data they have access to, is a daunting, yet essential task. According to a Ponemon Institute’s poll, the odds of a data breach have increased to 1 in 4, and the average cost is estimated at $3.62 million. Additionally, over half of IT professionals have identified a SaaS application as the source of a malware infection. Do you know what apps are active behind the scenes at your company?

Have your users told you about their gaming apps? Dating apps? Gambling apps? They are there, we promise, and they are not just a waste of time, they are also potential security risks. Another area of security risks arises from users publicly sharing files that contain confidential information. This data leakage can have serious consequences.

Security metrics to track:

  • History of data breaches for each app
  • Known vulnerabilities of each app
  • Data elements accessible by each app
  • Permissions granted to each app
  • Compliance of each app with standards and certifications such as GDPR, HIPAA, ISO 27001, etc.

Since this information is particularly difficult to obtain, consider using a solution like Alpin that focuses on SaaS application security. Alpin not only gives you information, it also allows you to blacklist apps that present a security risk. And Alpin will tell you which files are shared publicly, so you can take action and pull that data back inside.

We hope this list helps you improve your SaaS Management. For an easy way for you to get started at no cost, download our Free SaaS Management Spreadsheet.

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Lauren Alweis