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Managing Saas for Growth: Insights into the FINN Way

In today's economic environment, effective SaaS (Software as a Service) management can be a game-changer. In a series of LinkedIn posts, Andi, our CTO, dove into our SaaS management strategies. Let's take a closer look at these strategies, from welcoming new tools with open arms to mastering the art of negotiation.

Roll Out a Welcome Mat

At FINN, innovation and autonomy go hand in hand. We believe in giving teams the freedom to choose the tools that best suit their needs. This not only boosts productivity but also fosters a sense of ownership and accountability. When individuals work with tools they love, they tend to perform at their best. As shown by the DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) team, giving teams the autonomy to make tool choices increases the teams’ performance and job satisfaction.

Central Overview Monitored by the CTO Office

As a result of providing autonomy to choose and change tools, we saw the number of SaaS tools grow from seven at the beginning of 2020 to over 80 in 2023. It’s therefore essential to maintain control over expenses. The CTO office keeps a close watch on the SaaS expenditures. Any tool crossing the €50/month threshold automatically becomes part of a central overview monitored by the CTO office. We have developed an in-house vendor management solution that provides the central overview and helps us streamline spending and optimize SaaS investments.

Meet HUBERT: The Vendor Management Solution

Managing contracts for numerous SaaS tools can quickly become chaotic. That is why we created HUBERT, our internal Vendor Management tool. HUBERT centralizes contract information, ensures data integrity and notifies billing DRIs, responsible for invoice upload to our expense management tool, about renewal dates through automated Slack reminders. It enhances transparency and accountability and provides smart spotting of emerging SaaS tools to identify Shadow IT. With HUBERT in the picture, we keep an overview in one place.

Figure 1. HUBERT, our vendor management solution.
Figure 1. HUBERT, our vendor management solution.

Create a SaaS Repository

From day one, we recognized the value of maintaining a complete SaaS repository. This repository, hosted on Confluence, has proven invaluable for various purposes. Whether evaluating potential partners, conducting audits, preparing due diligence inquiries, or analyzing the tech stack, this repository provides critical insights and now too, can be derived from HUBERT. We developed an export functionality to download a sharable view on our SaaS repository.

Figure 2. Our Third Party Services repository.
Figure 2. Our Third Party Services repository.

SaaS Spend and User Inactivity Management

Closely related to the challenge of keeping a central overview of SaaS contracts is the challenge of optimizing SaaS investments. To optimize SaaS spending, we follow a dual approach: Provision ALL, Deprovision FAST.

  • Provision ALL: We provide new starters with access to the ecosystem of widely adopted tools, reducing onboarding time and fostering autonomy.
  • Deprovision FAST: By automatically identifying and deprovisioning inactive accounts, we have achieved a 7% reduction in costs (since tracking in July 2023). The automated processes sync with Google Workspace and are based on either user inactivity of over three months or working contract end dates.

A dashboard visualizes the ratio of active to inactive users per tool for better visibility, and the automations help us reduce spending and minimize manual auditing efforts.

The Art of Negotiation

We view negotiation as the big sister of inactive user management when it comes to optimizing SaaS investments. At FINN, we like to approach negotiations playfully with a spirit of sportsmanship. Everyone involved in SaaS negotiations learns these four guiding principles:

  • Turn Negotiations into a Game: We treat negotiations as a friendly competition, encouraging the Tech Leadership to secure the highest discounts.
  • Preparation is Key: In-depth market analyses, needs assessments, Requests for Proposal, and decision matrices ensure we enter negotiations well prepared.
  • Ask for More: The golden rule is to ask for a discount that makes us slightly uncomfortable, ensuring we get the best deal.
  • Anchor the Deal: We aim to improve the price or get more value for the same cost, resulting in a win-win for the company.

In conclusion, our approach to SaaS management revolves around empowering our teams, centralizing information, optimizing spending, and negotiating effectively. By implementing these strategies, we are following one central Engineering paradigm at FINN: we buy commodities, we build assets.

What are your strategies to manage software as a service?

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