Afraid of wasting time and money on SaaS apps you just won’t need?
You’re not the only one.
When it comes to SaaS management, almost half of IT leaders state that controlling application sprawl is their biggest challenge.
Not only does SaaS sprawl cause businesses to overspend on software, but it also wreaks havoc on employee productivity and can lead to serious security risks.
If you’re ready to become intentional about the software your new startup will be using, stick around to discover a few techniques you can implement to solidify and manage your tech stack with care.
Take Advantage of Free Trials and Freemium Plans before Investing in Cloud Software
Never invest in software without taking it for a spin first.
Luckily, most SaaS tools offer a trial version of any given plan or a 14-day free trial of its most basic package.
Pro-Tip: You can always reach out to a tool’s sales department to ask for a trial version of a more robust plan. If you need to test its advanced features, there’s no harm in asking!
When taking tools out for a test run, explore each of their features to see if they can realistically support your business. If you’re lucky enough to come across pristine software, you might even be able to use it in place of hiring a department.
For example, every company has human resources (HR) tasks it needs to take care of. But, if you can get your hands on an all-in-one HR software solution, you may be able to use it to manage your HR tasks in place of hiring an entire HR team. Or, you might be able to reduce the number of HR reps you hire if your software can manage most of your core HR tasks for you.
When your SaaS trials end, be sure to note which apps provided your business with the most overall value.
Then, contact their sales departments to book personalized demos to see if sales reps can show you additional advantages you didn’t uncover on your own. Be sure to ask any questions you may have about features, plans, and pricing during these calls.
Finally, strike any tools from the list that aren’t worth the money or the learning curve necessary to use them properly.
Explore Software Options That Were Designed with Your Core Niche in Mind
Since mainstream tools cater to wide industry use cases, they tend to include additional bells and whistles that don’t apply to your specific market.
Unless you’re in a pretty broad industry, focusing on SaaS options that were designed with your core niche in mind can help you avoid paying for unnecessary features you don’t need.
For instance, if you’re in the real estate sector, investing in general customer relationship management software (CRM) could be a complete waste of time. Not only will you need to dedicate ample time to setting up hyper-custom workflows, but you might also miss out on some core elements you need to run your business.
However, if you invest in professional CRM software for real estate, you’ll get tailored features and functionalities designed specifically for your industry. That might include lead scoring and automation, IDX websites, PPC ad management services, and an SMS-text real estate chatbot, for example.
There’s a caveat here, though. Just because you find software designed with your industry in mind doesn’t mean it’ll suit your specific startup. Be sure to jot down your non-negotiable features first. Then, conduct your search so you can focus on the software options that align most.
Read and Watch Comparisons and Reviews from Trusted B2B Influencers and Software Comparison Sites
Make informed decisions (and save time testing unnecessary apps) by turning to review guides by trusted influencers and software comparison sites.
Check out Shane Barker, Adam Enfroy, G2, and Capterra for reputable software comparisons, like the following one on AI analytics tools:
Comparison guides like these can help you strike certain tools off your list so you can focus on ones that better support your operational processes.
Professional reviews can also inform you about a key feature you shouldn’t skip out on when shopping for specific software.
For instance, a reviewer might recommend choosing team collaboration software that offers multi-factor authentication to reduce the risk of unauthorized access and data breaches. Without their insight, you might have overlooked this important element, which could have posed unnecessary security risks to your employees and business.
Create a Centralized Management Hub for Your Entire Tech Stack
Aim for complete visibility by starting with a Work OS or productivity tool that takes care of most of your everyday business needs. This will be your “centralized management hub” for your entire tech stack.
For instance, if you’re starting an accounting firm, you might choose an accounting software platform like SoftLedger to act as your main hub. Since SoftLedger eliminates the need for manual bookkeeping and offers real-time updates, you’ll be able to reduce employee output as well as the need for other accounting apps you might’ve used in the past.
Before integrating other tools into it, explore SoftLedger fully to see if it can take care of other tasks you may not have tested previously. If you discover SoftLedger is more robust than you thought, you may be able to cancel your subscription to some of the other tools you added to your stack.
Next, be sure to note any additional features you need that SoftLedger doesn’t offer. For instance, if you recently hired a sales department, you might need CRM software that offers built-in sales enablement tools, like TigerLRM offers.
In this case, you can use Zapier to integrate your CRM into your main hub, along with the rest of the tools you’ll be using. From there, you’ll need to set specific permissions so that only allocated team members can access certain apps, features, and workflows.
For instance, your sales team may not need access to SoftLedger, and your accounting specialists may not need access to TigerLRM. Your operations director, president, and account managers, on the other hand, may need access to your entire suite of tools to perform their jobs properly. Meet with your operations director to determine the best course of action.
Once you’ve chosen your main hub and integrated the rest of your apps, have your operations director set up custom workflows and automations. Then, run an operations management test to make sure everything is working properly and optimally.
Important Note: Never finalize your processes until you’ve tested every tool, workflow, and automation multiple times. You’ll also need to have your frontline employees test their apps and procedures to make sure they know how to use them. Course-correct every time you run into a snag until your operations run smoothly.
Test, Track, and Optimize Your Stack over Time
To make sure your processes are working as optimally as possible (and you’re getting the most value for your time and money), audit and optimize your tech stack every three months.
Here are some practices you can implement to test, track, and optimize your stack over time:
- Set up a meeting with your sales department (or your dedicated tool reps) to discuss a renewal negotiation so you can try to score a better price. This is especially effective if you can prove you’re only using set features and you’re willing to let additional ones go.
- Monitor your application usage to see which ones have the highest use and how many unused applications your organization is paying for. Cancel the ones you never use or don’t use often enough.
- Reduce the number of active users you need per tool if you previously overestimated.
- Set up new automations to replace as many redundant tasks as possible.
- Have your operations director map out better, more efficient processes every quarter. Then, ask them to use your tech stack to update your current workflows to match these new processes. If needed, have them test out new software options, too.
- Any time you add a new SaaS app to your stack, try to find one you’re not using and cancel it. This is one of the simplest ways you can prevent application sprawl.
And there you have it!
Today we covered some simple strategies you can use to build a SaaS tech stack with intentionality and care.
If you’re ready to boost employee productivity, streamline your operations, and save time and money, get ready to put these insights into action.
Your next step? Meet with your operations team to discuss the processes you need software for and the workflows you’ll set up to make them run seamlessly.
Then, test drive SaaS apps to see which ones meet your needs best. Review and optimize your stack quarterly so you can ensure it stays relevant, cost-effective, and up-to-date. Don’t forget to negotiate rates when appropriate and discard any tools you’re no longer using.
That’s it for now, startup owners.
Here’s to your continued success!