High-growth startups are discerning when it comes to bringing the right people on board. This is often the first priority so that the right systems and processes can be created that will carry the organization forward. The next priority is to decide how to take that team and scale upward to become a true enterprise.
Sumo Logic’s Ajit Deshpande was brought into the organization to do exactly that as the company prepared to launch its IPO . Facing new challenges and requirements, the company needed to build a solid foundation in their IT department to secure its future success.
We recently spoke with Ajit to learn more about how he brought clarity and organization to a company poised for growth.
Q: What does building an application strategy look like now that other people can choose and purchase apps on their own?
Deshpande: Prior to a SaaS-driven landscape, it was easier to understand the scope of your application strategy because it lived behind the firewall. This is no longer the case, of course. There are a lot of challenges and potential bad outcomes with this.
If someone buys an app and needs help with it, they might realize we don’t have a techie on staff and can’t get the support they need. This is what happens when IT isn’t involved in decision making. This means if they need support, they may have to resort to an expensive service from the company that made the app.
This spells bad news for any startup, especially once that’s about to go public. Margins are super critical and we simply don’t need to incur unnecessary costs.
In the past, I’ve spent a lot of time sorting through apps that people signed up for when they were focused on one specific objective or campaign. We’ve had double instances of some subscriptions, and it can get so messy that it feels easier to scrap everything and start fresh.
That’s why we’re taking a more proactive role and setting expectations for our application strategy. Our focus is on eliminating redundancy, getting rid of tools we don’t need, and establishing some form of governance to keep everything neat and tidy.
Q: How has better governance contributed to cleaner IT app management?
Deshpande: In the past, we used spreadsheets to keep up with all the different apps and their respective details. As our app load grew, one spreadsheet turned into several spreadsheets, all of which were different versions of the previous one.
After looking at different tools that could manage our SaaS sprawl, I started thinking more about what we really need and want to see from a better management tool. I was interested in seeing more than just the names of our tools and how many users and licenses we had for each. I wanted dashboards that updated in real-time. I wanted to create reports based on app adoption and usage. I wanted to see where I could free up licenses because people weren’t using them.
Having more visibility and simplicity has made our entire management processes easier. We wanted to move away from proliferation and various spreadsheet versions that would have become a full-time job for a growing IT department. I also needed a data source that I can trust as being reliable and up to date.
Q: What results have you seen in achieving greater data visibility?
Deshpande: We’ve found a lot of opportunities to optimize our business just by having more insight into our apps and tools. For example, we had a goal to get all of our sales reps across multiple acquisitions on a unified Salesforce platform but realized we needed to do some consolidation. We had data to show to Salesforce and they helped us to reduce any duplicates. This also saved us a bit of money.
Another big one is finding licenses that weren’t being used. We want to give our tools to the roles that need them instead of having employees sit on licenses for two or more years and not take advantage of them. We realize some people prefer certain tools over others, so we want to make sure we’re optimizing what we have.
Last but not least, I’ve noticed a significant difference in the way we onboard people. We’re growing and are hiring people in different roles that need different tools. Knowing exactly what those roles need is a huge time-saver and can take some of the manual efforts out of the equation.
Q: How does greater visibility into the app portfolio allow IT teams to become leaders rather than gatekeepers?
Deshpande: This level of visibility and insight could earn us the reputation of being technology governors. We can tell sales managers that 30% of their sales team hasn’t logged into a particular platform in the past two months or that someone paid for an app but hasn’t used it since they purchased it.
But we would rather be seen as technology partners and leaders in the company. We’re not currently using Productiv for budgeting, but we could definitely do this and are already seeing the value in doing so now that we better understand how to use it. Our next objective is to provide other company leaders with more self-service tools so they can optimize things on their end.
I want leaders to run their own operations in their way, but I also want to help them optimize it in the best way possible. I feel that with the data I get from our SaaS management structure, I can provide that value to them and make them stronger leaders in the process.
Final Thoughts with Sumo Logic’s Ajit Deshpande
For Ajit, Productiv was a clear choice for greater app data visibility and management because it does more than scratch the surface. It’s not only saved them time and money but also puts them in the best position to continue scaling upward.