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Why Spreadsheets Aren’t Enough for SaaS Management

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For basic number crunching and simple data tasks, we often turn to spreadsheets. They’re easy to use and pretty much everyone knows their way around them. But when we're dealing with more complex data, like tracking various software applications used across a company, spreadsheets just don't cut it.

Think about how businesses operate today. A huge part of our day-to-day work is powered by all sorts of SaaS applications. It's not just a trend; it's becoming the core of how we work. 

More than 70% of software companies use today are SaaS applications.

And let's not forget, software is a major investment, ranking as the second biggest operational expense after staff costs.

Remember the days when managing a handful of SaaS apps was as simple as keeping an eye on a few expenses? Well, those days are long gone. Now, we're dealing with a whole landscape of apps, each with its own details to track and manage. This blog post will walk you through 7 solid reasons why sticking to spreadsheets for SaaS management just isn't enough anymore.

7 Reasons SaaS Management Spreadsheets are Ineffective

SaaS management spreadsheet

1. The Simplicity Mirage

Spreadsheets, initially convenient for SaaS management, quickly fall short as business complexity and software subscriptions increase.

When first adopting a tool for Software as a Service (SaaS) management, many organizations gravitate towards spreadsheets. Their familiar interface and widespread availability make them a seemingly straightforward choice. 

At initial setup, the simplicity of a spreadsheet can be appealing - it’s a tool most are comfortable with, and it requires no additional investment or training. Companies often start their SaaS management journey by tracking subscriptions, users, and costs in a basic Excel sheet or Google Sheet.

However, this apparent simplicity is deceptive. As a business grows, so does its portfolio of SaaS applications. What begins as a manageable list soon evolves into a complex web of subscriptions, each with its unique pricing models, usage terms, and renewal dates.

2. Lack of Details

Using spreadsheets to manage SaaS applications often misses crucial information. Spreadsheets struggle to keep track of important details like how much each app costs, how many people are using it, and when it needs to be renewed. For instance, if you want to know how well a team is using a particular software, spreadsheets won't give you the full picture. You might end up spending a lot of time gathering information from different places, like surveys or financial reports.

Additionally, spreadsheets don't catch all the apps being used in a company, especially those bought by individual employees or teams without central tracking. This "shadow IT" – software used without the IT department's knowledge – often gets overlooked in spreadsheets.

Some of the questions that are hard to answer with spreadsheets:

  • How many and which apps are being used across the company, and are they all necessary?
  • When do different apps need renewing, and how do they affect the budget?
  • Are there any apps being used by different teams that do the same thing?
  • How much software is being used without the IT department's knowledge?

3. Data Challenges

One of the most significant limitations of using spreadsheets for SaaS management is the creation of data silos. In a spreadsheet-based system, information is often fragmented and isolated, lacking the necessary integration with other business systems. This results in a lack of real-time data synchronization, which is crucial for making informed decisions.

Unlike integrated SaaS management tools that offer a comprehensive, unified view of all SaaS applications and their usage, spreadsheets fail to provide an interconnected overview.

They lack the capability to automatically update or synchronize with live data, leading to outdated information that can result in poor decision-making and operational inefficiencies.

Moreover, spreadsheets do not support the seamless integration with other essential business tools and systems, such as finance and HR software. This disjointed approach hampers the organization’s ability to have a holistic understanding of its SaaS landscape, making it challenging to effectively manage software subscriptions, user access, and overall SaaS expenditure.

  • Spreadsheets create data silos, leading to fragmented and outdated information.
  • They lack real-time integration, resulting in poor decision-making and inefficiencies.
  • This disjointed approach fails to offer a complete view of SaaS usage and costs.

4. Time and Error Factors

A critical downside of using spreadsheets for SaaS management is the substantial time investment required for manual updates. As the number of SaaS applications grows within an organization, updating each entry in a spreadsheet becomes a time-consuming task. This not only diverts valuable resources from more strategic activities but also increases the likelihood of human errors.

Errors in spreadsheets, such as incorrect data entry, missed updates, or formula mistakes, can have significant consequences. They can lead to misinformed decisions, budgetary misallocations, and even security risks if access control is not accurately maintained. Given the dynamic nature of SaaS subscriptions, where user counts, licenses, and costs can change frequently, the risk of outdated or incorrect information in spreadsheets is high.

  • Managing SaaS with spreadsheets requires a lot of time for manual updates, taking resources away from strategic tasks.
  • Human errors in spreadsheet updates can lead to wrong decisions and security risks.
  • Spreadsheets are inefficient and error-prone for dynamic SaaS management due to frequent changes in user counts and costs.

5. Feature Limitations

Spreadsheets, while basic and accessible, fall short in offering the advanced features necessary for effective SaaS management. One significant limitation is the absence of automation capabilities. Unlike specialized SaaS management tools, spreadsheets cannot automatically update or send alerts for subscription renewals or changes in user access, increasing the administrative burden and the risk of oversight.

  • Spreadsheets lack automation and alerting, leading to manual management and risk of missing critical updates.
  • They offer limited reporting and analytics, making it hard to analyze software utilization and ROI effectively.
  • Without access management features, spreadsheets increase security risks and complicate compliance efforts.

6. Security and Compliance Concerns

The use of spreadsheets for SaaS management introduces significant security and compliance risks. Unlike specialized management tools, spreadsheets lack the necessary security features to protect sensitive company and customer data. This vulnerability exposes businesses to potential unauthorized access and data breaches, as spreadsheets can be easily shared or compromised.

43% of organizations have encountered security incidents resulting directly from incorrect configurations in their SaaS applications.

Additionally, spreadsheets fall short in meeting compliance requirements. For businesses needing to adhere to regulations like GDPR or HIPAA, managing compliance through spreadsheets is a risky and complex task.

This is primarily due to the lack of automated compliance features and the difficulty in tracking and documenting access and changes in a manner that meets regulatory standards.

7. Inefficiency Costs

Using spreadsheets for SaaS management leads to high operational costs due to the extensive manual effort required for updates and management. These inefficiencies contribute to overlooked revenue opportunities, mismanaged expenditures, and poor financial decision-making. Switching to specialized SaaS management tools can significantly reduce these costs, offering automation, better insights, and more efficient resource allocation.

Also read: SaaS Spend Management Guide

Simplify SaaS Security Management with Resmo

saas management dashboard

Resmo is a powerful SaaS security tool designed to give you complete visibility and control over your SaaS applications. With Resmo, you can easily discover all the apps your team is using, identify security risks like weak passwords or excessive access rights, and manage licenses to optimize costs.

Resmo's standout feature is its ability to let teams address security issues directly through ChatOps, freeing up IT to focus on more critical tasks. It also helps in identifying shadow IT, reviewing user access, and ensuring compliance, all from a single dashboard. Plus, with real-time alerts, you’ll never miss a potential vulnerability.

Some of the questions you can answer with Resmo:

  • Which SaaS apps are our employees using, both known and unknown to IT?
  • What are the critical security issues in our SaaS applications?
  • How can we detect and resolve shared, weak, or repeated passwords?
  • Are there any over-permissive access rights in our SaaS tools?
  • What is the status of our SaaS licenses, and how can we optimize their usage and costs?

Ready to take control of your SaaS security? Sign up for a free trial of Resmo today and experience a smarter, more secure way to manage your applications.

Say goodbye to spreadsheets and hello to streamlined, effective SaaS management with Resmo.

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