How to Identify Unpaid and Unapproved SaaS Tools Within Your Company

How to Identify Unpaid and Unapproved SaaS Tools Within Your Company

In today's fast-paced business environment, Software as a Service (SaaS) tools offer unmatched convenience and flexibility. However, the ease of acquiring SaaS subscriptions can sometimes lead to the unauthorized and unpaid use of software within your organization. This practice, often referred to as Shadow IT, not only poses security and compliance risks but can also disrupt your budget. In this article, we will explore how to effectively identify unpaid and unapproved SaaS tools within your company to ensure security, compliance, and financial stability.

Encourage Open Communication

The first step in identifying unpaid and unapproved SaaS tools is to encourage a culture of open communication within your organization. Make it clear to your employees that you welcome feedback and suggestions regarding the tools they use. By fostering an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their software needs, you increase the likelihood of discovering unauthorized SaaS subscriptions.

Review Your SaaS Inventory

Maintaining an up-to-date inventory of all SaaS applications used in your organization is essential. This inventory should include details such as the name of the application, purpose, vendor, cost, and the number of users. Regularly review and update this list to ensure that it reflects your current software ecosystem.

Analyze Your Expense Reports

Review your company's expense reports for any unexpected or unaccounted expenses related to software subscriptions. This can help you identify SaaS tools that were purchased or expensed without proper approval. Look for recurring payments or vendor names that are unfamiliar or inconsistent with your authorized SaaS providers.

Monitor Network Traffic

Leverage network monitoring tools to keep an eye on network traffic. Unapproved SaaS applications may leave a digital footprint, allowing you to identify any unauthorized usage. Unusual data traffic patterns or connections to unknown SaaS platforms can be red flags.

Educate Employees on Shadow IT Risks

Educate your employees about the risks associated with Shadow IT. Explain the potential security vulnerabilities, compliance issues, and budgetary concerns that unapproved SaaS tools can introduce. Make sure they understand the importance of adhering to company policies and protocols.

Conduct Surveys and Feedback Sessions

Periodically conduct surveys or feedback sessions to understand the tools and software your employees are using. This proactive approach can help you discover hidden or under-the-radar SaaS tools that employees find useful but might not have reported.

Collaborate with Department Heads

Work closely with department heads to identify the specific software requirements of their teams. Department managers are often aware of the tools that their employees need and may be using. Regular discussions with department heads can help you uncover unapproved SaaS subscriptions.

Implement SaaS Management Tools

Consider investing in SaaS management and discovery tools. These platforms are designed to help organizations identify and manage their software subscriptions. They can provide insights into your SaaS ecosystem, making it easier to identify unapproved tools.

Review Your IT Policies

Regularly review and update your IT policies and procedures to ensure they address the use of SaaS tools. Make it clear that employees should seek approval before adopting new software and that unauthorized tools may be subject to removal.


Identifying unpaid and unapproved SaaS tools within your organization is essential to maintain security, compliance, and budgetary control. By fostering open communication, maintaining an SaaS inventory, reviewing expense reports, monitoring network traffic, educating employees, conducting surveys, collaborating with department heads, using management tools, and updating IT policies, you can effectively uncover unapproved SaaS subscriptions. This proactive approach will not only enhance your organization's software governance but also contribute to overall operational efficiency and cost management.