Preparing for Budget Season: How a Mid-Year SaaS Review Can Help

by | May 13, 2024

Want to ensure a smoother budget season? Conduct a mid-year review to take better control of your technology expenditures.

SaaS spending can greatly impact a company’s bottom line, which should make SaaS cost management an important item on the controller’s to-do list. With a mid-year review, controllers can effectively optimize their SaaS subscription spend to cut costs and boost value for budget season and throughout the year.

The controller’s role in software management

Controllers aren’t just accounting overseers; they’re financial strategists responsible for ensuring the prudent and efficient allocation of resources, including costly SaaS subscriptions, such as Zoom, Netsuite, or Microsoft. The controller’s detailed understanding of their organization’s SaaS investment, coupled with the ability to translate these complexities into strategic recommendations, can influence financial success.

Why do controllers need to pay attention to SaaS spend?

Unmonitored or unregulated purchasing of software can result in a costly occurrence known as SaaS sprawl, where seemingly harmless individual software subscriptions quickly accumulate into a significant corporate expense. Controllers need to recognize the potential impact of unchecked SaaS expenditure on the company’s financial health and help ensure software costs fit the organization’s needs and budget.

By analyzing SaaS spend, controllers can:

  • Ensure SaaS costs are in line with the services utilized
  • Identify inefficiencies and redundancies
  • Rationalize unneeded SaaS
  • Implement cost-saving strategies for remaining SaaS

Mid-year financial review and budgeting: Analyzing SaaS expenditures

The mid-year review is an opportune time for controllers to evaluate SaaS expenditures and evaluate whether they contribute to operational efficiency and strategic goals. This review sets the foundation for a well-informed budgeting process, shaping the financial plan for future periods.

To evaluate SaaS expenditures for your mid-year review, you have to know what you have. Catalog all SaaS subscriptions across the organization and create an inventory that includes the purpose, cost, user base, and contractual terms of each tool. Look back at last year’s budget or budgeting materials for information to get started – but don’t assume your organization’s SaaS spend is exactly the same as it was then. Reach out to department heads and check billing or payment data to see what subscriptions or licenses have been added, updated or retired.

Once you have compiled a complete SaaS inventory, focus the mid-year review on:

  • Assessing the value of SaaS tools in achieving business goals
  • Identifying overlapping or underutilized subscriptions
  • Analyzing trends in SaaS spending to project future costs
  • Ensuring SaaS spend aligns with compliance requirements

Creating a SaaS inventory for a mid-year review will pay off handsomely during this year’s budgeting cycle – saving your team time and stress – and regular updates to this catalog will make your SaaS management efforts even more effective. But keeping an inventory of software and licenses up to date can be a big job when done manually. If software is a large and/or growing expense at your organization you may want to consider automating this task. A variety of software asset management and SaaS management platforms are available, like FinQuery Software Management, that can save your team time and keep your software inventory constantly updated. Efforts to manage SaaS spending enable the achievement of financial goals, as well as streamline the budgeting process.

SaaS spend management: Mid-year review and beyond

SaaS spend management works best when it’s not a one-and-done effort. While addressing SaaS spend during mid-year review will make the budgeting process go more smoothly, a lot can happen in a year – particularly with employee SaaS purchases. If possible, SaaS spend management should become a continuous process rather than an annual task. In order to make SaaS spend management part of your organization’s workflows, do the following:

Collaborate cross-functionally

Adopting spending guidelines may not always be well-received by teams who perceive it as depriving them of necessary resources. That’s why the most important element of a successful SaaS spend initiative is cross-functional collaboration. Controllers cannot implement discipline around SaaS spending alone. Work with cross-functional teams including the IT team and the teams using the SaaS subscriptions to ensure that SaaS tools evolve in conjunction with business needs and costs are aligned with strategic imperatives.

Address the issue of shadow IT

Shadow IT, or the use of unauthorized SaaS tools by employees, can pose a significant challenge to spend management as well as to security. These are big concerns for the finance and IT teams. Therefore controllers and IT must leverage their shared interests to bring these rogue subscriptions under control, ensuring all SaaS tools are accounted for and serving the organization’s best interests.

Establish consistent approval processes for new SaaS technology

To stay ahead of shadow IT and its result, SaaS sprawl, ensure that there’s a designated individual on each team responsible for approving SaaS purchases, monitoring usage, and evaluating the continued need for each subscription. That person should collaborate with their colleagues in finance and IT, as well as other departments, to provide organization-wide visibility into software usage and spend.

Stay ahead of subscription renewals

SaaS tools operate on a subscription model, with renewals that can catch controllers off-guard. Stay on top of expiration dates, renewal terms, and notification deadlines to avoid unexpected costs or unwanted renewals. Establish processes that include timely alerts and renewal reminders to make sure subscriptions are renewed only when necessary.

Negotiate favorable terms for strategic SaaS contracts

Leverage the collective buying power of the organization to negotiate favorable contract terms for software. This can include consolidating contracts for tools used by more than one department, choosing one tool when different teams are using separate tools for the same function, as well as other contract strategies. Controllers should lead or be heavily involved in these negotiations, drawing on their financial expertise to secure cost-effective agreements that align with the company’s strategic goals.

Deploy a SaaS management platform

For many teams SaaS spend management sounds like one more task to add to an already full plate. But, with the proliferation of SaaS tools, it’s no surprise that just as many solutions exist to help you manage your SaaS. The right software asset management tool or SaaS management platform can help you keep your spend under control — even if you are understaffed. Look for features such as automated SaaS discovery, centralized visibility, renewal alerts, and granular reporting to automate tasks necessary for effective software subscription management.

Summary

Optimizing SaaS spend is a strategic initiative, and as mid-year approaches, it’s time to be proactive. By spending some time during a mid-year review aligning SaaS management and overarching financial objectives, controllers can help ensure a smooth and successful budget season, free from the surprises that can accompany unchecked SaaS spend.

Controllers who remain flexible and embrace innovation, can be some of the first to take advantage of emerging technologies to streamline SaaS spend management, and further the financial success of their organizations. Combining SaaS management and financial control enables real-time cost management, streamlines operations and enhances decision-making.

Looking to start your organization’s mid-year review or seeking advice on key topics to address? Attend our upcoming summit, Getting Ahead of Budgeting & Year-End: Mastering Your Mid-Year Financial Cleanup for expert tips and insights.

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