SaaS Sprawl: Understanding and Overcoming the Challenges

In the ever-changing digital landscape, SaaS sprawl is a common challenge organizations face brought about by the widespread adoption of SaaS applications; sometimes beyond what is even necessary for day-to-day operations. This proliferation results in governance issues, security vulnerabilities, increased expenses, and redundant software investments. So, how can your organization combat this phenomenon? This article will explore the impact of SaaS sprawl on businesses, and help your team understand the importance of proactive management.


What is SaaS Sprawl?

SaaS sprawl refers to the uncontrolled proliferation of Software as a Service (SaaS) apps within an organization. Often occurring when various departments or individual employees independently adopt and use SaaS applications to fulfill specific needs or tasks, without centralized oversight or management. As a result, organizations can find themselves with a disorganized and fragmented collection of SaaS tools, leading to decreased efficiency, security vulnerabilities, and increased costs. All of which impact the bottom line. 


Understanding the Relationship Between SaaS Sprawl and Shadow IT

SaaS Sprawl and Shadow IT often go hand in hand, creating challenges for organizations. On one hand, SaaS Sprawl refers to the uncontrolled proliferation of SaaS apps across different departments. Shadow IT, on the other hand, involves employees using unauthorized software or applications without the knowledge or approval of the IT department. This unauthorized usage not only increases security risks, as sensitive data may be compromised, but also leads to increased costs and potential compliance issues for the organization. Identifying and addressing both SaaS Sprawl and Shadow IT are crucial for maintaining security, efficiency, and control over the software environment within a company.

Examples of SaaS Tools used within Each Department

  1. Marketing Department: Multiple SaaS apps like CRM tools, email marketing platforms, and social media management software lead to fragmented data and wasted ad spend.
  2. Sales Team: Adoption of various SaaS applications including CRM systems and sales engagement platforms can fragment data affect the sales funnel.
  3. Human Resources: Reliance on different SaaS tools such as applicant tracking systems and payroll software can create management inefficiencies.
  4. Finance Department: Utilization of SaaS applications for accounting and budgeting may complicate data management and financial compliance.
  5. IT Department: Use of various monitoring tools and network management software can complicate operations if not managed cohesively.


Challenges Of SaaS Sprawl To Your Business

The challenge of SaaS sprawl lies in the lack of visibility and control over the myriad of SaaS applications used across departments. This oversight gap not only complicates IT and security teams’ ability to regulate these applications, but most likely duplicates functionalities among various SaaS applications and can confuse employees. 

  • IT Oversight and Governance: With departments independently choosing their applications, gaining a holistic view of the company’s SaaS usage becomes a formidable task. This scattered approach can result in weak IT governance, hindering the enforcement of consistent policies and standards for all software assets.
  • Data Access and Security: Adopting and using SaaS applications without proper oversight can be risky to an organization. Each new app, if not reviewed properly by IT’s policies, could allow access to apps and data that employees or third parties are not authorized to access, heightening the risk of data breaches and loss of sensitive information. This also applies to employees when they leave an organization and are not properly deactivated from their app access on their end date.
  • SaaS Spend Management: Redundant and underutilized applications can lead to economic inefficiencies. Companies may incur unnecessary costs without a clear overview of all SaaS subscriptions and their usage, adversely affecting their financial health.
  • Operational Redundancies: Multiple tools with similar functions can cause confusion among employees and reduce productivity. Additionally, managing these numerous applications can overstretch IT resources, distracting from more or major strategic tasks.

  • Impact of SaaS Sprawl on Employee Productivity: SaaS sprawl notably affects employee productivity. Too many SaaS apps leads to fragmentation, inefficiencies, and employee confusion. Not to mention the resources required to on-board and off-board employees, then add on a layer of complication when provisioning apps subject to their department, seniority and so on.


8 Effective Strategies to Mitigate SaaS Sprawl

Organizations can combat SaaS sprawl by implementing proactive measures to manage their SaaS ecosystem effectively. This involves establishing clear SaaS usage policies and guidelines, centralizing procurement and application deployment, conducting regular audits of existing SaaS tools, consolidating redundant applications, negotiating enterprise contracts, and providing employee training and support to help streamline the SaaS portfolio.

1. Regular Audits for Effective SaaS Management

Regular audits play a pivotal role in managing SaaS sprawl within organizations. Continuous evaluation of software application usage helps identify redundant tools, potential security risks, and optimization opportunities. This undertaking can be labor and resource intensive especially for fast-growing companies with competing priorities which leads nicely to the second strategy.

2. Investing in a SaaS Management Platform

Investing in a SaaS management platform enhances understanding of the SaaS landscape, pinpointing usage trends and underutilized tools. These platforms guide security teams in proactively safeguarding sensitive information and mitigating security risks arising from data sprawl across multiple SaaS applications. Centralizing SaaS management streamlines operations, enhances security, and ensures data protection compliance.

3. Involving Various Departments

Stakeholder collaboration optimizes the SaaS portfolio, reduces costs, and ensures data security compliance. Engaging different departments also aids in achieving visibility across teams and aligning business goals & objectives. 

4. Establishing Clear Policies and Guidelines

Setting clear policies and guidelines for structured governance of SaaS apps and any other cloud-based tools is a must. Establish procedures on SaaS procurement, usage, and data security to protect sensitive information. You will see a higher policy adoption rate if you succeed with the next strategy, employee education.

5. Educating Employees on SaaS Best Practices

Employee education on SaaS best practices is vital for combating SaaS sprawl. Training and guidelines on SaaS application use empower employees to make informed decisions, understand security risks, and manage SaaS tools responsibly. This awareness aids in preventing shadow IT, reducing vulnerabilities, and optimizing the organization’s SaaS stack.

6. Collaborating with IT and Security Teams

Establishing transparent communication channels, prompt issue resolutions, and efficient collaboration with IT and security teams streamline application procurement and usage. Consider user-friendly platforms, comprehensive guidelines, and encourage an open dialogue to enhance transparency, mitigate risks, and optimize app acquisition within the organization.

7. Eliminating Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policies

Phasing out Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies can curb SaaS sprawl and shadow IT by centralizing device management. This is especially important in today’s hybrid work environment. Consider company-provided devices with pre-approved software as an investment in security by controlling SaaS application use, reducing data sprawl risks and strengthening security measures.

8. Building Agile Adoption Frameworks

In the digital age of business, agile adoption frameworks are essential for staying competitive and leveraging the latest technologies. The next new app is just around the corner which means providing comprehensive training and support for employees to accelerate technology adoption and maximize your return on the SaaS investment.


How does Josys Mitigate SaaS Sprawl?

Centralized SaaS Management: Josys consolidates SaaS management into a comprehensive platform, eliminating inefficiencies from disconnected tools and regaining control over sprawl.

Streamlined IT Operations: Josys simplifies IT asset management by replacing disjointed tools with a unified, user-friendly platform, enhancing operational efficiency.

Cost Savings and Efficiency: Josys identifies unused licenses, reducing costs and optimizing software usage. Insights into software utilization streamline services, consolidate where necessary, and improve IT expenditure optimization.

License and Device Management: Josys streamlines license and device management by overseeing license assignments, monitoring usage, and tracking devices per employee. This ensures up-to-date resource allocation and compliance adherence.

Enhanced Governance: Josys visualizes and monitors app access to ensure secure data handling and policy compliance, preventing unauthorized entry and data breaches.

In conclusion, effective SaaS management is crucial for organizations to mitigate security risks, control costs, and enhance operational efficiency. By strategically managing their SaaS environment, organizations can tap into the full potential of SaaS applications for innovation and growth in the digital era.

To experience Josys benefits, contact us for a free demo today!