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4 Questions with HashiCorp’s Head of IT

The software-as-a-service model is designed to make doing business easier. This may be true concerning the specific apps you use, but juggling multiple subscriptions can become a chore in itself. 

Without careful management, companies risk paying costly renewals for underutilized tools, paying for duplicate subscriptions, and not gaining the full productivity benefits of their software suite. What’s more, these problems are compounded when you have a staff of hundreds or even thousands of employees that depend on software apps to do their job.

We recently sat down with HashiCorp’s Head of IT Jim Fazzone to discover how they stay productive and proactive in managing their SaaS portfolio for a team of more than 1,000 employees.

Q: HashiCorp is growing rapidly. What are some of the challenges this growth has created for IT?

Jim: When I started two years ago, HashiCorp had about 150 employees. Right now, we have more than 1000 employees – that’s like adding about 50 new employees every month. 

Given that we’re nearly a fully remote company (about 85% of our workforce was already working from home prior to COVID), this creates a lot of unique challenges for IT. 

For starters, because of our rapid growth, our number one priority simply became to keep people working. It’s not easy hiring that many people in such a short time span and technology plays a huge role in helping to get people to be productive the minute they come on board. This means opening a laptop and getting started on Day 1 without a bunch of complex processes to slow them down.

This is easier said than done with a remote workforce, especially from an IT perspective. We don’t have an enterprise firewall as you’d have in a traditional office setting, so we don’t have visibility into where internet traffic is going. 

We also don’t have the ability to block a site. People can sign up for programs and applications they feel they need, and we’ve found that needs can be very different across roles. Getting the right fit of tools to the right people takes a lot of thought, especially as we grow. 

Q: Before you came on board, there was no IT department at HashiCorp. How did you go about building the department and prioritizing the business’s IT needs?

Jim: In building an IT department from the ground up, one of my first priorities was to understand the landscape of the tools being used in the business. There were hundreds of platforms that a user could engage with every day. I needed to figure out which systems resided with each team, find out who the application owners were, and understand the use cases of those applications. I knew I needed to know more than just how to be an administrator for those users. 

These were big challenges, but I felt this was the best path to turning the current landscape of tools into “HashiCorp habits” that could scale as we grew. This way, our systems and applications wouldn’t be all over the place and could start to form an actual software stack. 

Q: What complexities arise with managing multiple software tools throughout the enterprise?

Jim: We have hundreds of applications, and keeping track of them manually is no longer an option. I found that some of these tools were ones that individual users had signed up for on a whim, while others were tools where the department had contacted a vendor, compared options, and had gotten approval to purchase. 

In total, I know we have somewhere around 225 software tools. This is a huge number, and it also means we have 225 contracts to manage, 225 points of contact, and 225 authentication mechanisms. When something goes wrong, we have to learn how to troubleshoot 225 different platforms. And when it comes time to renew or negotiate new rates for these tools, this means 225 different conversations with different vendors. At least half of my week comes from having conversations with vendors regarding price points, utilization, and contract language.

The real question I had was whether all of these tools were needed. I wanted to dive deeper into which ones were being used, how they were being used, and how often our employees were using them.

Q: What are some things you did to bring clarity and control to HashiCorp’s systems and applications?

Jim: Just knowing what was in our ecosphere was a major challenge. Often, we would discover a new tool because a user would submit a help ticket for it. We also needed to understand what people did with those applications, and who was using each application. I found all of this to be extremely helpful when bringing new people on board because I knew all of the tools I needed to set them up with right out of the gate based on their role and department.

I used to use a messy spreadsheet to manage all of this data, but it was all manual input. I didn’t have an easy way to manage the data pile I was sitting on. 

When we switched to Productiv, clarity, and control became natural byproducts. We had instant visibility into all of our known applications, how each one was being used, and which teams and individuals were using it. 

Something else that has been a tremendous help is being able to calculate the ROI of our software investments. When we think of the tools our people use as investments, we want to see rich data about what they’re doing with those tools. 

Productiv gives us visibility into engagement patterns and specific features that are being used, as well as tools and features that are potentially underutilized. This has proven to be a huge helper for us in renewal conversations and licensing considerations.

Final Thoughts

Software tools are designed to spur productivity for its users, but they shouldn’t come at the expense of productivity in the IT department. Using a better management system can help to reign in the SaaS landscape and create a powerful, effective suite of tools whose ROI can be unquestionably calculated.

Request a demo to learn how Productiv can help you improve your SaaS management process.