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3 Ways Automation Can Make IT Pros More Successful

3 Ways Automation Can Make IT Pros More Successful

CIOs have said their top priority for 2023 is to increase efficiency and productivity. As IT organizations look to do this, often in the face of limited or shrinking resources, automation can help bridge the gap and enhance success. 

While many of IT’s responsibilities are ripe for automation, none seem more poised to benefit than the management of SaaS applications. The adoption of SaaS applications is occurring at a breakneck pace. The status quo for managing them entails chasing information on contracts, licenses and users; manually updating spreadsheets; and painstakingly provisioning and deprovisioning users by going into every single app they use.

These methods are time-consuming, prone to errors, impossible to keep current, and a detriment to a company’s health and budget. As businesses continue to rely on a growing library of cloud applications, IT’s time, effectiveness, and capacity will dwindle without the help of automation. 

In our recent study of IT professionals, 48% of respondents cited consistency of task execution as automation’s greatest advantage, followed by 27% aiming for fewer errors, and 21% looking for greater speeds. 

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Automation can enable IT pros to handle onboarding and offboarding, license management, and contract management tasks faster and with greater accuracy; make better use of their limited resources; and free them to work on higher-value, more strategic projects.

Setting the stage for automation: the data imperative 

Before you can automate SaaS management actions and workflows, you need to be confident that the information they’re relying on is complete and accurate. An automation tool should be able to tap into data on every app in the company, and its contract terms, owners, users, usage, costs, and risks.

After all, it’s difficult to automate actions for applications if you’re unaware of all apps and their relevant data points. Factors such as Shadow IT, which are unsanctioned applications that employees acquire without the knowledge of IT teams, undermine efforts to automate if they’re not readily discoverable. 

Many IT-enablement automation solutions, such as SaaS Management Platforms, include robust discovery of all key data, and pay dividends in creating a scalable, effective automation program.  

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Onboarding & Offboarding

The math is simple. More SaaS applications plus more employees coming and going, equals more work for your IT team. The pressure is on IT to provision those accounts in an efficient way to avoid interfering with the employee experience. 

The current process at many organizations likely looks something like this: the People team informs IT of every hiring, what their start dates are and, based on what the hiring manager tells them, which applications the new employee will require. This flurry of tickets, Slacks, and emails is overwhelming, unorganized, and time-consuming. It’s not unusual for apps and users to fall through the cracks. 

An automated workflow can keep IT from being a bottleneck and ensure new hires get the applications they need to be productive immediately. A SaaS automation tool integrated with your HR system can pull all required employee information and provision all required tools for an employee’s respective job on day one, without IT, HR or app owners lifting a finger. 

Equally important is the ability to deprovision departing employees. Every application in your tech stack contains sensitive company information. Without the ability to cease access to them, your company faces significant security risk.  

Single Sign On (SSO) solutions can stop access to some tools, however due to the prevalence of Shadow IT many of the applications that employees use are likely unknown to the SSO. Manual deprovisioning, by going into each application and revoking access, becomes the only way to fully eliminate risk. But, with unknown Shadow IT, it’s impossible to know about every app a person uses. Deprovisioning becomes a game of guessing who is using what apps, and a time-consuming, ineffective one at that. 

However, with a solution that discovers all applications, both sanctioned and not, and that has a real-time pulse on who’s using what, organizations don’t need to worry. They can be sure that when an employee is marked as departing in the HR system, it will trigger workflows that automatically suspend access to all applications.   

License Management

As the amount of SaaS applications an organization uses increases, IT spend follows. 

Managing application licenses requires visibility into the real-time usage of each application and ensuring that unused licenses don’t sit dormant and underutilized licenses aren’t being wasted.

With usage data, IT teams can set up workflows that automatically reclaim licenses after a certain period of inactivity, or query employees if they’d like to release their underutilized licenses. That offboarding workflow mentioned earlier is also key for license management, as IT teams can automatically reclaim licenses of departing employees. 

This level of management makes it easy to re-harvest existing application licenses rather than purchase new ones, and helps to significantly reduce spend.

Contract Management 

Regardless of the size of your organization, tracking upcoming renewals and having the right information at your disposal is difficult with manual methods. From updating spreadsheets to consistently asking legal for contract terms, and asking employees whether they still need the licenses they have, it’s easy to reach a renewal unprepared. 

Automated workflows eliminate the chance of surprise renewals, make renewal processes easier, faster and more informed, and give IT organizations an advantage during vendor negotiations.  

Nany SaaS management platforms can centrally store each application’s contract and pull information from finance apps such as NetSuite. When you combine this information with the usage data discussed earlier, there are excellent opportunities to automate. 

Consider this workflow: An application is coming up for renewal. At the 60-day mark, relevant internal stakeholders automatically receive an email or Slack reminding them of the date of renewal, and also containing the necessary information such as the number of unused licenses for that specific application and a recommendation for how much canceling those licenses would save their organization. 

All of this, and more, is possible with automated workflows.

Automation enables IT teams to do more and do it better 

When you consider the limited size and massive responsibilities of most IT teams, the opportunity to automate manual tasks is a no-brainer. 

Once accurate information is centralized and normalized, it’s easy to automate at scale — especially when solutions have no-code workflow builders that even non-technical employees can effectively use. Then, automation can fulfill its promise by easing the burden of IT teams and making their efforts even more successful.

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