Software asset management (SAM) is the process of managing the procurement, deployment, maintenance and retiring of your company’s software portfolio.
Your business likely has SAM in place to manage your company’s software licenses (such as Microsoft Office). If not, then keeping this software up-to-date in terms of compliance, security and capabilities is a complex process.
Below, we discuss how today’s businesses are using SAM to lower the cost of deploying software across their organizations:
What Does Software Asset Management Do?
Basically, the goal of SAM is to keep your software assets (such as productivity applications) secure, compliant and up-to-date. But this is done through a clearly defined and implemented process in your business or organization.
The specifics might be different, but in general, SAM teams keep track of software licenses deployed at your organization. Your SAM team will monitor how software licenses are used and/or your company’s software deployment.
They will want to know if these licenses are still active such that your business is still paying for them and not using them illegally. Your SAM team will also ensure your software is up-to-date in line with your organizational needs.
For example, your business might not want to add new features to its applications, but it’ll want to keep its software up-to-date in terms of security builds and patches. This team will also look for ways to reduce software spending, but without hampering your productivity.
On that last point, when requesting new software, your employees will generally approach your SAM team (which could be led by a Software Asset Manager or Consultant).
You can think of SAM as your tool to keep your software running while also protecting your business from security gaps, compliance problems and escalating costs.
Learn More About Software Asset Management:
How Does Software Asset Management Work?
First: SAM is done through a SAM team. This team can comprise of either in-house, permanent people, contract staff or a managed IT services provider (MSP). Generally, the team will have a Manager to lead the team, ensure compliance and use the SAM tool. In smaller businesses, the Manager will also contact vendors, review license agreements and steer SAM strategy.
Second: SAM defines how users are permitted to use software issued by the company. Your SAM will also build a mandatory process through which new licenses can be bought (e.g. for new hires) along with a system-of-approval.
Third: Your SAM team will be responsible for managing your software assets amid a disaster, such as fatal error, cyber attack or breach.
Fourth: When an employee has no need for a specific license, your SAM team is responsible for reclaiming and re-allocating it to another team member, or of withdrawing it so that the OEM charges your business a lower price (for one less license).
Fifth: Your SAM team must ensure that your company’s software licenses are compliant with the supplier’s end-user agreements and local laws. It must always be ready for an “audit check”.
Software Asset Management Best Practices
SAM has three ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards: ISO 19770-1, ISO 19770-2 and ISO 19770-3. These ISO standards outline best SAM practices in terms of how SAM work is carried out at your business or organization.
This standard requires you to have a SAM tool that clearly displays the state and allocation of your software licenses. Not only does this help with the compliance auditing process, but you can also use it to monitor how SAM is helping your business lower its software licensing costs.
Under 19770-2, you must have software identification tags (SWID) to map-out what software you have installed at your organization. The idea is for your software to be easily recognizable and to help keep track of the number of licenses in use at your company.
With 19770-3, you will need software entitlement tags to outline how software licenses are being allocated at your business or organization.
Software Asset Management Process Flow
The SAM process flow is similar to the SAM team’s tasks described above, but involve these:
Defining Software Usage
The goal of this process flow is to ensure that your company’s software licenses aren’t being misused by employees, e.g. for personal usage or sharing with other departments.
Setting a Software Procurement Policy
Let’s say a department needs additional licenses for new hires. In this case, it’s prohibited from trying to secure these licenses on its own, it must consult with the SAM department, which will then handle the process of getting new licenses.
Outlining Software Authorization & Deployment Processes
The SAM team is responsible for defining how new software/license requests are handled and for managing new software deployment.
Clarifying Software Allocation Rules
Requests for software licenses or access must be directed to your company’s SAM team. Be it for new employees or members at your department (or when someone leaves), the provisioning and de-provisioning of software licenses is the job of the SAM team.
In case of an IT disaster — e.g. a data breach, cyber attack, fatal error, etc — your SAM team is responsible for restoring and/or ensuring the availability of mission-critical software.
License Recycling & Compliance
It’s the SAM team’s responsibility for deciding how unused software licenses are to be handled. They can opt to re-allocate the license or review your company’s software needs; with the latter, they can potentially decide to reduce the number of licenses at your office to lower costs.
Software Asset Management Lifecycle
ISO 19970-1 outlines the SAM lifecycle process (termed, ‘lifecycle process interfaces’):
Development & Acquisition
The SAM lifecycle process starts with either the development or acquisition of the software at your business or organization. If you’re developing your software, then this step occurs before the software acquisition step.
Software Release & Deployment
Your SAM team is responsible for releasing and deploying your software. In effect, your SAM team serves as a centralized source that controls the deployment of new software. Moreover, only your SAM team can determine which software gets deployed at your organization.
In case of any problem in your software, your SAM team must be the first point-of-contact for managing the issue.
There are two sides to retiring software.
First, the SAM team must look at whether software that is loaded onto retired hardware (e.g. computers) can be installed on a different device. The SAM team must look at both technical and licensing before making that decision.
Second, once your SAM team confirms if certain software is retired, then it’s no longer used in your company. It can also prohibit your team from going back to using old (retired) software.
How to Implement Software Asset Management:
The essentials of SAM are building a dedicated SAM team and equipping them with a software tool that will catalogue and manage your software assets.
However, while this might seem simple on the surface, an effective SAM system requires proven experience and expertise. Hiring the right people — and retaining them — is not a trivial task. You may also need the benefits of SAM sooner than the time it would take to build a SAM team.
This is because SAM involves a deep understanding of many different licensing frameworks (as every software vendor has its own requirements). In addition, your SAM team must also have a strong grasp of managing software deployment, troubleshooting and retirement.
If you’re tight in time and/or resources, then consult an MSP. At PCM Canada, our SAM services are a one-stop-shop. We bring a complete understanding of software licensing and will ensure that your software library is free of non-compliant, insecure and unused/surplus programs.
Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us today to discuss how we can help you reduce your software spending costs through SAM.