Software asset management (SAM) is the process of managing the procurement, deployment, maintenance, and retirement of your company’s software portfolio.
Your business likely has SAM in place to manage its software licenses (such as Microsoft Office). If not, then keeping this software up-to-date in terms of compliance, security, and capabilities can be a complex process to build from scratch.
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. 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 and 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:
- The Top 12 Benefits of Software Asset Management
- Software Deployment Process
- IT Outsourcing ROI: How to Calculate IT Outsourcing Costs
How Does Software Asset Management Work?
First: SAM is done through a SAM team. This team can comprise of either in-house employees, contract staff, or a managed IT services provider (MSP).
Generally, the team will have a Manager to lead it, 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 for 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 ISO Standards
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.
Common Software Asset Management Mistakes
Organizations typically commit the following four mistakes when deploying SAM solutions:
- Striving to automate the SAM processThere are numerous automated SAM tools that can perform tasks such as asset discovery and management. While this helps with one part of the SAM process, it’s unlikely that the entire scope can be automated.Deploying a SAM tool won’t result in automatic compliance for your business and could lead to a painful audit. Proper application of SAM requires monitoring and regular checks from an experienced team that’s aware of modern-day best practices.
- Failure to account for distributed environmentsSome of the world’s largest companies — Apple, Cisco, American Express, Dell, Oracle, and Metlife to name but a few examples — are turning to remote employees to meet their hiring needs.As organizations run on-premises data centers and cloud-based ones in parallel, it becomes imperative to glean an accurate view of software consumption, inventory, and entitlements.Your SAM team should aggregate data from all offices and remote locations, centralize it, and then conduct its regular maintenance checks. If remote employees aren’t accounted for, it’ll be impossible to get an accurate picture of the existing environment
- Bypassing the CIOAccording to Gartner, shadow IT can account for up to 40 percent of IT spending in large enterprises. Simply put, shadow IT is technology that has been procured without taking the IT department into the loop. For example, the Head of Sales may sanction the procurement of Salesforce — a cloud-based SaaS solution to improve sales workflows — without consulting the CIO first.In fact, according to some estimates, 90 percent of CIOs aren’t consulted at all — leading to the use of IT solutions within an organization without a proper vetting structure in place. If IT teams aren’t aware of existing IT solutions, then it won’t be possible for them to determine an accurate picture and will hurt your SAM processes.
Software Asset Management Challenges
Achieving maximum efficiency with your SAM can be tough. Organizations can overspend on software by up to 30% of their entire IT budget and many are over licensed on software by 60%.
Under licensing exists, too. If you’re not careful, you could be sued for a colossal sum of money due to breaches in the software licensing agreement.
For example, software giant SAP sued brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev — the Belgian company that brews Stella Artois and Hoegaarden among other alcoholic beverages — for a staggering US$600 million as a result of a software licensing dispute.
There are a few reasons why this could happen:
- Unclear and verbose licensing agreementsVendor terms and conditions tend to be complex and ambiguous and there are always new models to contend with.Before purchasing any software, organizations need to be completely aligned with the compliance and licensing agreements. Any ambiguities need to be resolved before the software is rolled out within the organization.
After all, if you’re measuring your use incorrectly then you’re setting yourself up for an audit failure due to non-compliance.
- Complexities due to the cloudAs software shifts to the cloud, it adds more complexity regarding internal usage and compliance. While it’s easier for SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS companies to monitor usage, the onus is on the customer to ensure that they aren’t oversubscribed.Hence, this is more of an optimization problem which can lead to the issue of over licensing as mentioned earlier. We’re seeing the emergence of new tools to accurately track the use of cloud-based software so that could potentially help solve this problem.
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.