Keeping track of all the SaaS tools your company uses can get daunting very quickly, even in small companies. Since web services are often built to solve a very specific problem, chances are that most of the services you subscribe to are only used by small, mutually exclusive groups of people. The finance and design departments use different tools and they have no reason to log into each other’s services.
Because each discipline has its own needs and tools, it is normal for people from the various disciplines to do the product evaluation themselves before proceeding to sign up for a subscription. This process often involves signing up for a free evaluation account and then converting it to a paid account. The consequence is that the person who will use the product becomes the account owner for the company.
There are some advantages when subscription accounts are “owned” by the people who use them. A big one is that there is minimal admin overhead because the owning user can also administer the service with very little effort, they are proficient using the service so they pick up payment problems and other account related issues much faster, and they get all admin related emails because they signed up using their own email address.
The downside of having SaaS account owners spread throughout the company is that the invoices go to the account owners instead of the finance department. This greatly increases the time the finance departments spends collecting invoices every month.
Regaining control of the service accounts when staff leave the company is another big problem, especially if two-factor authentication is still active in the departed person’s name.
One strategy that can address these downsides is to use a dedicated email address as the owning account for as many services as possible. This will make the service administrable independent from the users, which may be an advantage or disadvantage. There are some requirements to make this strategy practical:
- the service must have an advanced access control system which allows for separating the user and administrator accounts.
- the people that have access to the dedicated owning email account must monitor it for emails from all the services it subscribes to and communicate notifications from each service to the actual users in a timely manner.
It is easy to lose track of all the SaaS subscriptions your company pays for and no single strategy will cover all cases. One strategy is to use a dedicated email account when signing up to new services.