Modern IT Lifecycle Management: How Does It Work?

IT lifecycle management is evolving.

More and more technology is cloud-based. Gartner surveys predict that cloud spending will make up 14% of global enterprise IT spending by 2024. The cloud isn’t just a trend or buzzword anymore. It’s a key part of IT operations.

But, what does this mean in practice?

Well, it means most companies aren’t installing new software on local machines, or buying new hardware. Instead, they’re tapping into the online ecosystem of SaaS applications and cloud vendors who can fulfill their needs, and enable them to deploy solutions faster than creating technology in-house.

However, this presents new challenges, opportunities, and requires new processes to manage. In this article, we’ll show you what IT lifecycle management is, stages in the IT lifecycle, new challenges, and benefits of having clear IT lifecycle management systems in place.

IT lifecycle management is the entire process of introducing new information technologies — both hardware, and software — into a business. It includes the entire lifecycle of a hard/software asset, from sourcing, to installing, maintaining, tracking performance, and retiring the technology at the end of its life.

Stages in the SaaS and IT Lifecycle

With decision-makers in various departments all able to purchase and deploy new software, it’s vital to understand the modern IT lifecycle.

Stage #1: Sourcing and introducing new software

Your team wants to move quickly. Whether it’s the HR department, marketing, or sales, when an employee needs a new tool, they can easily purchase a license and start using the tool immediately.

To make this process work in a growing business, your IT department should encourage teams to check with them before purchase to ensure the software meets your security and compliance requirements.

Once it’s approved, it can be added to your SaaS vendor management system so that cost, usage, and access can be monitored.

Stage #2: Provisioning and ongoing usage monitoring

Rather than giving everyone access to every new software application you purchase, you should only provision and provide access only to employees who need to use it.

Over time, you can monitor SaaS app usage. If usage starts to drop for a particular tool, your IT department can ask the relevant employees if they still need it. If not, anyone who had access can be deprovisioned from the tool, and the license cancelled or downgraded to save costs.

This is an important stage of the IT lifecycle today. If you don’t stay on top of it, it’s easy to let costs rise without any benefit to the company.

Stage #3: Spend forecasting

As you add more tools to your IT toolbox, costs will increase.

A key part of the modern IT lifecycle is managing spend throughout the time you’re using software. For example, as your team grows, you’ll need more licenses for tools that everyone is using, like GSuite, Slack, or Microsoft Teams.

By proactively measuring spend, you can create accurate financial forecasts and estimate how much your costs will increase as the company grows.

Stage #4: Software Cancellations and Retirement

When your team no longer uses a cloud-based SaaS tool, it needs to be handled carefully. If you don’t remove unauthorized employees from the tool, or, leave customer data in a tool even when it’s no longer being used, it exposes you to potential security risks.

When cancelling software, you should also consider the possibility of ongoing costs. If you purchased a yearly license, but only need the tool for six months, you need to ensure those extra months of spending are accounted for.

To manage this, encourage employees to audit the reasons they’re planning to use a new tool. Is it completely necessary? How long will it be used for? What will the ROI on it be?

While some element of waste is inevitable, the quicker you can retire unused tools, the more money your company will save.

SaaS and IT Lifecycle Management Challenges for the Modern Company

1. Managing too many IT and SaaS vendors is complex

86% of enterprises say managing their data in the cloud is one of their biggest challenges.

Considering over two-thirds of growing mid-market companies today use between 36-75 SaaS tools, it’s not surprising that managing that growing technology stack is complicated.

Most companies end up relying on spreadsheets, or needing to build complex internal tools to manage them. Managing tens of SaaS vendors is difficult if you want to move quickly without:

  • Compromising data security
  • Causing compliance issues
  • Wasting too many resources

 

2. It’s easy to lose track of IT spend

As you add more cloud-based tools to your IT infrastructure, costs will start to rise.

Depending on the tool, you can be changed based on usage, seats, or a fixed subscription price.

Because it’s so easy to purchase new software and apps today, it doesn’t take long before different departments are all using a variety of tools with differing price points.

It’s hard to keep track of what is being spent, and it’s easy to end up wasting tens of thousands per month on unused licenses and software that isn’t being used.

3. New challenges around data security emerge

The average cost per lost record in a data breach is $150. If you have hundreds of thousands of secure data points or customer records stored across multiple SaaS apps, the cost of a data breach becomes astronomical.

Moving forwards, companies need to ensure they’re prepared to tackle the challenges around data security as they start using more and more cloud-based tools.

The modern company needs to have a clear process in place around user provisioning, software and tool usage, and have the ability to proactively revoke access to apps to any party that shouldn’t have access to them.

What are the Benefits of an IT Lifecycle Management Process?

1. Proactively understand IT costs and manage spend

Instead of letting your IT costs increase month over month without a way to control them, effective IT and SaaS lifecycle management allows your organization to track, manage, and predict your IT spend.

For example, an effective IT management process will help your IT team track licenses, monitor usage, and identify where your resources are being spent.

You can accurately see your monthly spend on IT and cloud tools, and if needed, find ways to reduce those.

If you need to create financial forecasts, you can use your past spending data to model what you can expect to be spending in the future, based on your company growth rate and expected number of new hires.

 

2. Make better decisions around new software purchases

If you’ve ever been in the situation where one of your departments has discovered they’re paying for three to four SaaS tools that all have overlapping functionality, you’re familiar with the concept of shadow IT.

If you don’t have a centralized way to manage IT purchases, it can lead to unnecessary purchases, inefficient spend management, and tools that aren’t accounted for by the IT department.

With effective IT management you’ll gain clarity into where resources are being spent, which tools your team has available to them, and whether or not to approve new purchases.

 

 

3. Improve IT security practices

As mentioned earlier, data security is essential for any company working with any type of sensitive information, such as customer details. Adding new IT tools to your team’s toolbox can result in data being exposed to individuals that shouldn’t have access, and if you have problems with shadow IT, there may even be employees who leave the company but retain access to your tools.

Having a clear understanding of your IT lifecycle enables you to:

  • Know exactly what data is at risk
  • Create systems to identify potential future risks

This can be as simple as ensuring employees are securely onboarded from your tools when they leave, but can also involve the day-to-day processes around setting up permissions correctly in your software, and ensuring that the employees who need to access them can, but without compromising on security.

It’ll also ensure that whenever you run compliant audits, it’s simple to spot potential areas where you’re not compliant, and fix them.

 4. Facilitate user provisioning to quickly adopt new software

When your sales team adopts a new CRM platform, or your HR team needs a new onboarding tool, you’ll need to approve it, review who should have access, and deploy it.

An effective IT lifecycle management process will ensure you can easily provision and deprovision employees from your tools, without any issues.

For example, using a platform like onetool means your IT team can select which employees have access to individual tools, and which permissions they need. When that employee no longer needs access, they can be removed from the tool in a few clicks.

It’s the ideal way to centralize your user provisioning, and avoid losing control of who has access to which tools.

5. Create a Control Center for Your IT and SaaS Tools

At any growing company, you have employee turnover. People come, and people go.

However, the tools they purchased using company credit cards won’t go anywhere.

An effective IT lifecycle management process ensures that no purchase ever gets forgotten about. Your IT team (or heads of departments) can see how often tools are being used, and who by. If a tool isn’t being used, users should be deprovisioned, and it should be cancelled.

However, how do you track that? In the past, when your team only had 10 – 20 SaaS tools, a spreadsheet may have worked. But today, you need a control center that allows you to manage and oversee how every IT app in your organization is being used.

This could be an internal tool developed specifically for the task, or, a third-party platform like onetool.

Who Should be Involved in the Modern IT LIfecycle Management Process?

There’s no one right answer to this question, as it depends on your company structure and roles.

However, in 95% of high-growth companies, the IT department manages this. That means they oversee the processes, review compliance, and ensure teams are using their IT assets as planned.

It’s also worth ensuring that other departments have a seat at the table, including:

  • Finance department: they need a way to monitor software spend
  • HR team: they’ll need to onboard new employees to your IT assets
  • Heads of departments: they’ll want an overview of tool selection and approval

 

You should also ensure your data security team (CSO or CISO) are involved. As you adopt more SaaS tools, the risks of a data breach increase with every new tool added.

Using onetool to Manage Your IT Lifecycle

If your organization is embracing the cloud and your teams are adding new cloud and SaaS tools to the company every day, then onetool can help you manage the process.

Our platform gives you one centralized place to manage all of your employees’ software and tools, across every department.

Your IT team can see if your team is using new tools that haven’t yet been approved, whether or not tools are being used enough to be worth the monthly costs, and see exactly who has access.

When new employees join, they can be added to the tools they need in a couple of clicks. When they leave, they can be quickly and securely deprovisioned, ensuring you don’t risk any of your data.

It’s the ideal platform for high-growth companies expecting to be using more and more cloud tools as you expand your team.

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Wrapping Up

IT lifecycle management is evolving.

 It’s no longer solely about managing on-site hardware and software hosted locally. Today, organizations of all sizes, particularly high-growth and mid-market companies, are relying on a wide variety of Software-as-a-Service tools to manage key processes.

This can help companies scale more quickly, without needing to build complex internal tools — but it does introduce new challenges.

To avoid those becoming problems, you can take proactive steps to manage your IT infrastructure, such as using a platform like onetool to manage spend, provision employees, and monitor usage.

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