blog post cover

Best Practices for User Management in SaaS Apps

Table of contents

In the information age, it's common for employees to think that using more software tools can increase their productivity and improve the quality of their work. However, this view only skims the surface of the complex relationship between software usage and productivity.

Without proper management, a phenomenon known as SaaS Sprawl can occur, leading to a significant loss in productivity. This happens when employees spend too much time switching between multiple apps and lose focus on their main duties, negatively affecting productivity.

Managing SaaS applications involves various components such as different roles, levels of permissions, handling of departed employees, and upcoming renewals. It is crucial to take care of each component with utmost diligence to maintain efficiency in a secure manner. This is where User Management in SaaS Apps becomes a necessity instead of an additional effort.

What is User Management in SaaS Apps

Managing employees' access to SaaS applications within a company is a crucial process known as SaaS user management. This process involves managing access rights, roles, accounts (since a user can have multiple accounts), permissions, and even subscription management.

The more centralized SaaS user data is, the more compelling these management efforts become, resulting in more efficient and secure company operations.

SaaS user management refers to managing a user's access to a SaaS application. This process involves managing access rights, roles, and accounts (since a user can have multiple accounts), assigning and revoking permissions, and even subscription management. The more centralized SaaS user data is, the more compelling these management efforts become, resulting in more efficient and secure company operations.

SaaS User Management involves: 

  • Access Rights: Determining who has access to specific software tools.
  • Roles: Assigning roles to users based on their responsibilities.
  • Multiple Accounts: When managing cases where a user has multiple accounts, it is important to tie them to the user to prevent complications.
  • Permissions: Defining what actions and data users can access.
  • Offboarding process of Departing Employees: Proper and timely offboarding is crucial for SaaS User Management, as only 21% of companies immediately deactivate employees' accounts, and 2% never do.
  • Subscription Management: Overseeing the status of subscriptions and licenses, making the needed analysis and decision process to decide on the renewal and the deal size. 
  • Continuous Monitoring: Continuous monitoring of user activity and audit logs are crucial to detect abnormal patterns and vulnerabilities on time.

The Role of User Management in SaaS Apps

User management in SaaS apps serves several key functions to support the organization:

  • Operational Efficiency: Ensuring that resources are used optimally leaving no paid tools underused. 
  • Enhanced Security: Protecting sensitive company data by preventing unauthorized access.
  • Decentralization Challenges: Addressing issues arising from decentralized software acquisition.
  • Ongoing Administration: Continuously managing access rights and permissions.
  • Cost Optimization: Monitoring usage to avoid unnecessary expenses.
  • Compliance: Ensuring user activity aligns with internal policies and regulations.

In order to achieve your goals with a strong SaaS User Management strategy, it is crucial to explore and implement the best practices, and ensure that they are working effectively. In this blog, we will discuss the best practices for building, maintaining and ensuring a well-crafted SaaS User Management strategy.

Best Practices for User Management in SaaS Apps

1. SaaS App Discovery - to Know What's Being Used

Achieving flawless SaaS user management requires a deep understanding of what your employees are using. However, some things may go unnoticed if the process is handled manually, leading to inefficiencies and errors. Therefore, having a proper automated process is crucial to ensure that everything is done in a secure, ethical, and complete manner, leaving no stone unturned for corporate purposes.

Suggested Reading: Monitoring SaaS Adoption Without Invading Employee Privacy 

The main role of security is to enable employees to work safely, not to put them in a box with limited tools.

2. Role-Based Access Control

Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) identifies which users and groups can perform specific actions on particular SaaS apps and resources. RBAC simplifies administrative tasks by dynamically assigning, updating, or revoking privileges as needed. This increases operational efficiency, eliminates the need for frequent password changes, and, most importantly, mitigates security risks by preventing unauthorized access and misuse of privileges by both employees and potential intruders.

By granting access based on specific roles and responsibilities, RBAC ensures that employees can focus on their core tasks without unnecessary distractions. It achieves this by segregating duties and minimizing misconfigurations. For instance, in an RBAC system, a sales representative would have access exclusively to CRM tools and customer data, while a finance manager would be limited to accessing spending platforms and other tools related to his duty. This precise allocation of permissions not only enhances data security but also streamlines workflows, reduces the risk of errors, and fosters a more organized and productive work environment.

RBAC (Role-Based Access Control) is a complex system that needs to be continuously and properly managed from various perspectives. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  • Define the data and resources that need to be restricted and ensure access is granted only to those who require it.
  • Align the roles with employees within your organization to ensure that access is granted according to their job responsibilities.
  • Ensure that RBAC is integrated across all systems within your company and conduct regular audits to ensure everything functions as planned.

Suggested Reading: RBAC Management 

It is important to hold this process flawless, continuously monitor it, and ensure it is error-free to avoid any rabbit holes within the system.

2. Automated User Provisioning and Deprovisioning 

User provisioning and deprovisioning involve creating, managing, modifying, disabling, and deleting user accounts across an organization's IT infrastructure and business applications. 

Suggested Reading: User Provisioning for SaaS Apps - Top 10 Best Practices

Automation streamlines these processes, reducing the administrative burden and increasing operational efficiency. Approval workflows can be automated to grant specific permissions, ensuring a smoother and more accountable user management process.

A system management platform (SMP) streamlines user provisioning, making it easier to manage and control access.

3. Strong Password Policies

Implementing a robust password policy organization-wide is paramount for bolstering security. Strong password policies deter malicious actors from accessing sensitive systems and valuable data. 

Password Security Statistics

When creating passwords, following best practices for IT security is paramount which also involves implementing a strong password policy within the organization. Such a strong password policy typically requires users to create complex passwords with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. A strong password policy should include regular password changes or rotations.

Password rotation is a security practice that involves regularly changing passwords to prevent unauthorized access to personal or business information.

4. Consideration of Multi-Tenant Applications

In SaaS apps, providers often host data from multiple clients on shared resources, primarily driven by budget constraints. While this approach offers cost savings, it introduces a critical concern: a vulnerability affecting one client could potentially compromise the security of others.

What is Multi-tenancy

Consider, for instance, an e-commerce platform where a software bug exposes customer data for one store. Without proper isolation measures, this breach may escalate and jeopardize the data security of other stores sharing the same infrastructure. 

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) frequently employ multi-tenant management to serve multiple clients efficiently, often leveraging cloud-based solutions to deliver their services remotely. However, rigorous adherence to multi-tenant security practices is paramount.

Inadequate implementation can pose significant security risks. For a secure and resilient multi-tenant environment, it is imperative that:

  • Tenant Isolation: Multi-tenancy users must ensure that no tenant's users can access or view another tenant's information. This strict segregation of data is essential to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Vendor Collaboration: Collaboration with SaaS vendors is crucial. Staying up-to-date with vendor updates and adhering to their security recommendations is essential for reducing exposure to malicious activities. Timely patches and updates can help mitigate vulnerabilities.

Suggested Reading: Avoid These 5 Common SaaS Attack Techniques

5. Integration with Other Platforms

Seamless integration with other systems, including cloud platforms, HR systems, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, is crucial for any organization. This integration plays a vital role in minimizing the administrative overhead and ensuring data consistency across platforms. It enables efficient user provisioning and deprovisioning, synchronization of user data, and real-time updates. 

By having a broad range of integrations, you can achieve complete visibility of all user and asset data, without any gaps.

6. Ensure that Access Control Best Practices are in Place and Been Implemented

Managing user access to software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms involves more than just granting access and defining permissions. It requires implementing strict access control practices to ensure the safety and security of both the user and the system from external malicious activities. To achieve this, it is crucial to implement a few key concepts:

  • Applying the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP): PoLP means giving users and entities the minimum access levels required for their duties.
  • Enabling Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): MFA requires users to provide multiple forms of evidence to verify their identity before gaining access to an online account or system.
  • Leveraging Just-in-Time Access (JIT): JIT access is a more elevated form of privileged access, where privileges are granted to a specific user for a limited time to complete their task. This helps organizations provision access so that users only have the privileges to access privileged accounts and resources when they need it, and not otherwise. Instead of granting always-on access, organizations can use JIT access to limit access to a specific resource for a specific timeframe.

To ensure that these best practices are in place, it is highly recommended to adopt an automated monitoring approach to prevent any vulnerability arising from misconfigurations or disabled security measures. Tools like Resmo can alert users in real-time and provide clear and centralized visibility into all these concerns from a single management platform.

7. Monitoring User Activities

Proactive monitoring of user activities is a complementary but critical action to take for SaaS User Management. It provides insights into who accessed specific resources and when helping organizations detect and respond to suspicious patterns before they escalate. 

Monitoring is a proactive measure that helps prevent unauthorized or potentially harmful activities within a system. It also provides professionals with insights on the usage data of specific SaaS apps over time, which can help them optimize costs. By leveraging these internal insights and real metrics, responsible professionals can make informed decisions on whether to renew their subscription and the appropriate size of the deal.

SaaS Renewal Decision Process
Source: Productiv

8. Plan for Disaster Recovery & Have an Incident Response Plan

Disaster Recovery is the process and a set of tactics that organizations use to enable them to recover and resume the essential business operations after a catastrophic event. It involves implementing a disaster recovery plan to ensure that you can quickly restore access to users in case of any disruption.

In the event of a breach occurring within the organization, it is crucial to have an incident response plan in place. This plan should include a well-organized approach to detecting, responding to, and recovering from the breach. Such a plan will help prevent the breach from having more severe consequences and ensure minimal interruption to company operations.

Keep on Reading:

Continue Reading

next article

17 Best SIEM Tools to Try in 2024

Sign up for our Newsletter