SaaS Security: Best Practices for Business-led IT

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Navigating the evolution of enterprise technology in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, enterprise technology is undergoing a significant transformation. Gone are the days when IT decisions were solely the responsibility of the IT department. Instead, business units are increasingly taking the lead on technology initiatives, ushering in an era of what is now termed Business-Led IT.

SaaS Security – Understanding Business-Led IT

Business-Led IT encompasses a spectrum of technology initiatives driven by business units rather than centralized IT departments. It encompasses a diverse range of activities, from the procurement and deployment of software applications to the adoption of cloud services and digital tools. This shift is fueled by several factors:

Empowerment of Business Users

Advances in technology, such as cloud computing and self-service platforms, have empowered business users to procure and deploy technology solutions independently.

Need for Agility and Innovation

Business units seek to leverage technology to drive innovation, respond rapidly to market dynamics, and meet evolving customer expectations.

Rise of Citizen Technologists

The emergence of citizen technologists, individuals within business units with expertise in technology, has blurred the lines between IT and business functions. These individuals play a crucial role in driving technology initiatives within their respective domains.

From Shadow IT to Business-Led IT

In the past, technology initiatives undertaken by business units were often viewed as shadow IT—deployments made without the knowledge or approval of IT departments. However, the landscape has evolved, and what was once perceived as shadow IT is now recognized as a legitimate form of technology governance: Business-Led IT. This shift reflects a broader transformation in the role of IT within organizations. Rather than being gatekeepers of technology, IT departments now serve as enablers, providing guidance, support, and governance to business-led initiatives. The rise of cloud computing, mobile apps, and low-code development platforms has facilitated this transition, making it easier for business units to implement technology solutions independently.

Challenges and Opportunities

While business-led IT offers numerous benefits, including agility, innovation, and alignment with business objectives, it also presents challenges. Without proper governance and oversight, organizations may face issues such as data security breaches, compliance violations, and technology sprawl. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to strike a balance between enabling business-led initiatives and maintaining control over technology assets.

Best Practices are Key

Many organizations go about gaining control of their SaaS environment in the wrong way. Rather than accepting there are already SaaS solutions implemented by business units that simply need to be managed, they take hardline, draconian approaches to stop them. This is often done by issuing edicts to eliminate SaaS products that were not correctly procured through IT channels and outlining rules to prevent new purchases outside of the traditional pipeline.

Tackling the problem in this manner has multiple adverse effects throughout the organization. It causes business units that have already integrated a SaaS product as part of their workflow to abandon it, stopping mid-stream from changing course and finding new ways to operate or halt until IT can approve, purchase, and configure their product. Which, of course, requires starting fresh. It also sets up a staff vs IT conflict, leaving staff suspicious of an IT inquisition for SaaS products and IT suspecting teams of having SaaS solutions. This ultimately damages trust across the organization. 

Even with these harsh rules, there is no guarantee that all errant products will be managed. Effective identity management in SaaS environments can be accomplished in ways that allow the organization to still benefit from the agility of business-led IT. This effort takes time, but organizations can secure their digital assets and maintain control with the right best practices. 

Educating Stakeholders

Ensure that business leaders and technologists understand the implications of their technology decisions, particularly concerning security, compliance, and risk management.

Establishing IT Guidelines

Define clear parameters for business-led IT initiatives, outlining when IT involvement is necessary and setting approval procedures and risk assessment protocols.

Developing Governance Frameworks

Implement rules and guidelines that govern the business-led IT process, ensuring compliance and accountability.

Providing Training

Educate business users on the rules and guidelines for technology procurement and deployment to foster a culture of compliance and collaboration.

Embracing the Future of Enterprise Technology

Business-led IT represents a fundamental shift in the way organizations approach technology.

By embracing this evolution and adopting a collaborative approach to technology decision-making, organizations can leverage the benefits of business-led initiatives while mitigating risks. With IT and business units working together as strategic partners, organizations can drive innovation, achieve business objectives, and thrive in today’s digital economy.

Seamless SaaS Management

Savvy helps organizations gain visibility and control of their SaaS environments. Using a sophisticated, identity-first approach, Savvy helps organizations understand the entire SaaS landscape, determining what they have and who has access. It helps evaluate toxic access combinations, uncovers hidden Business-led IT resources, and streamlines compliance processes. Savvy gives organizations the power to better manage their SaaS, aligning SaaS security with the rest of their operations. 

Learn how Savvy can transform your organization’s approach to SaaS identity security and schedule a demo to see Savvy in action. 

Build security into your SaaS sprawl without disrupting the operational efficiency that it brings.