Each year, organizations spend an eye-watering average of $2,623 per employee on software-as-a-service (SaaS). These tools help companies to streamline their business functions and generally provide a healthy return on investment, but when software stacks spiral out of control, they can do more harm than good to your productivity and IT budget alike.
This is especially true if you’re working in finance — an industry notorious for the manner of complicated, expensive systems it demands its workers to use. So, if you’re heading up IT at a bank, credit union, investing body or other otherwise, you may be feeling the shareholder pressure to get ahead of this relatively new corporate challenge.
If this is the case, you’re in safe hands. Here, we’ll discuss three of our top recommendations for financial institutions to better manage their SaaS, to boost efficiency and save money. Let’s get started.
Optimize your SaaS portfolio
The number of SaaS tools the average organization now deploys sits at a staggering 177. As a result, many employees report feeling overwhelmed by the breadth of applications they need to use and switch between each day. This leads to stalls in productivity as well as high contract costs. Within a financial institution, your workforce will no doubt rely on countless different tools to facilitate accounting, insurance, configure-price-quote and more, but there may be instances of unnecessary licensing or over-provision of SaaS.
Organizations have the opportunity to streamline their software portfolios by carefully assessing and selecting the most suitable applications in their stack to meet each of their needs. This is known as application rationalization. Software management platform Vertice explains that “applications that are determined to be either redundant, duplicate, or simply no longer required can then be canceled or the number of licenses amended.” Following this process, organizations should be left with “a lean, productive suite of applications that provide an improved return on investment (ROI) from your SaaS selections”.
At your company, effective application rationalization could help to minimize the costs of overlapping software, help staff to access critical information quickly, support efficient resource allocation, and provide superior customer service to meet the demands of the business.
Ensure data security and compliance
The risk of losing money and time to legal proceedings is often overlooked by organizations — until they find themselves embroiled in an expensive legal conflict, that is. The current digital landscape is something of a minefield when it comes to handling sensitive consumer data, thanks to recent changes to compliance guidelines such as GDPR and HIPAA. So, if you aren’t vetting the tools in your SaaS portfolio for their security standards, you could well be putting your clients’ privacy at risk — as well as your finances.
It’s vital that those responsible for new procurement conduct due diligence when selecting SaaS vendors — particularly when working directly with capital and sensitive financial data. You should inspect cloud security measures and data encryption protocols with relevant regulations both domestically and on a global scale. If you’re looking for extra guidance, the UNCTAD data regulation explorer may help to shine a light on some of the regulations in effect internationally.
Another valuable exercise is in uncovering any instances of shadow IT within the organization. This refers to any device or software being used for work purposes without the knowledge or approval of the governing IT authority. Shadow IT makes data more vulnerable to leaking if the systems being used to handle it are non-compliant — and it often goes entirely undetected.
Security Scorecard recommends that, in order to uncover shadow IT and avoid costly legal proceedings, organizations enforce identity controls, scan their environment using detection software, and implement “deny all” access controls.
Train staff efficiently
Investing in SaaS platforms doesn’t start and end with the upfront cost of your platforms. Rather than assume your employees will learn the way around the tools you use, you’ll need to train staff to navigate common systems in use.
Ideally, any training programs should cover best practices for data security, file management, collaboration and privacy protocols to minimize risks and streamline workflows. In the long run, this can bolster productivity and increase the return on investment you take from your SaaS portfolio.
The more complex finance SaaS you’re using could be especially challenging for staff to learn and embed alongside the other tools in their digital workflow. Subsequently, it may be beneficial to invest in comprehensive onboarding support for each new platform your team is expected to take on, equipping them with the skills to leverage each application most effectively. Research by advisory firm Gallup shows that targeted employee training can improve working productivity by up to 18%.
It’s important to note, however, that training is not a ‘one-and-done’ process. Refresher sessions should be regularly provided to reflect any product updates and keep staff confidently using the latest features. By prioritizing staff training, financial institutions can boost productivity, reduce errors, and foster a culture of innovation — saving time and unnecessary costs.
Once you’ve established these best practices for managing your SaaS efficiently, you’ll be well on your way toward getting the best possible returns back from your investment.
Kyle Olsan is a professional writer and blogger who uses his expertise, skills, and personal experience in digital marketing to craft content that resonates with audiences. Deep down, he believes that if you cannot do great things, then you can do small things in a great way. To learn more, you can connect with him online.