6.5 min to readAsset Management

Gaining insight into your licensing estate

SoftwareOne blog editorial team
Blog Editorial Team
Asset Management

In our previous blog post we walked you through the importance of having insight into your licensing estate in order to make informed decisions that support your business. Moving a step forward, we’ll tell you what exactly you need to look at and how you can get that insight. There are two main categories of data that you need to look into: entitlement data and deployment/usage data.

Entitlement data

In any SAM business practice, software entitlement management is the first essential step that an organization should take. Why? Because it allows you to gain visibility on your software investments as well as your software licensing rights, restrictions and limitations. However, many organizations underestimate the complexity of an effective software entitlements administration.

When you purchase software, you don’t actually buy the software program, but the right to use it. This right comes with associated terms and conditions, which are specified in the contractual document and a number of other documents that the software publisher publishes online. These terms and conditions are subject to regular updates and changes. It’s your responsibility as an end user to keep track of all these changes and make sure you are in compliance.

Administering your software licenses starts with having the right source data. You must understand the terms and conditions, as well as the rights and limitations that govern them. This helps you to avoid overusing certain products or not using them in accordance with what is stipulated in your agreements. Without this insight and understanding, you expose your business to compliance, security, and ultimately financial risks every time when you use the software products in a way that doesn’t align with the rights included in your contracts.

Where to start?

The first step in gaining insight into your licensing estate is to make sure you have a complete archive of all your proof of entitlements (PoE). Ideally, you should have stored them all, regardless of whether you received them as individual documents (e.g.: invoices, POs, agreements, etc.) or through vendors’ portals (e.g.: VLSC) in a central storage location. In most organizations this isn’t the case, so the first step is actually gathering all these documents. It might be a time consuming and frustrating task to look through your inbox, different folders and online repositories for these documents, but it will ultimately save you time and money when you are audited.

When you have all the PoEs, you need to analyze them to get the insight needed for making any future informed decisions. You need to understand what you are entitled to use and under what conditions. To do that, you should always look at all software license related terms and conditions (e.g.: general, product and usage conditions). For example, you might have different legal entities, so you want to know which entities are entitled to make use of the software products you purchased. Or when you’re looking at a certain software product, you want to know what usage rights (full or restricted use) are granted and/or if any specific products or components require separate licensing. If you have all this information, you should be confident that you have a solid foundation for making future decisions.

Keeping track to stay on track

Software publishers reserve the right to make changes to their licensing policies. You are responsible to keep track of these changes and ensure that you comply with them. However, you need to know where to look to find the changes that might affect you.

So, what do you need to track and where do you have to look? Once again, it comes down to knowing what you own. For example, it doesn’t make sense to check all the policy updates for all Oracle products; but it definitely makes sense to monitor everything related to Oracle Database, if you’re using Database programs. To find the relevant updates, you want to start by looking at your contracts, where you will find references to URLs that will direct you to the programs related pages on the software publisher’s website. Keep in mind that the list of referenced URLs may not be a comprehensive one. Most times you will have to browse through the software publisher’s website and perform a thorough search to ensure you capture all the information you need. For example, if you’re using Oracle, you have to go to docs.oracle.com to find all the documentation on Oracle programs.

Once you know what licensing policies have changed, you need to understand how these changes will impact your current situation and future direction. Some questions to ask yourself: do you need to purchase more licenses? Does it make sense to trade in unused licenses, or will that ultimately prove to be more costly than buying additional ones? If you understand your requirements; you will know what actions to take.

Deployment data

If you follow the above steps and have a good understanding of your entitlements, this will tell you what data you need to gather from your IT systems and infrastructure. When purchasing software programs, you may be able to install everything included in a package without restrictions, but you may not be using all the installed programs. Nevertheless, your agreement may state that you have to pay support and maintenance fees on installed products, regardless of whether you use them or not.

Every software publisher will ask you – during the course of an audit – to use certain tools to gather installation and consumption data and to provide the results back to them. Some examples include SAP’s USMM, BigFix/ILMT for IBM and Oracle’s LMS Collection Tool. Understanding how these tools work and what data they collect is crucial to ensuring that you know what deployment data you are providing. A key point to consider, do you also know what information the software publisher derives from these tools and how this can impact your organization?

SAM tools

Besides the tools that the software publishers offer, there are various SAM tools on the market. They are a great investment for every organization, as they help to automate the SAM practice and offer more control and visibility over software asset spending and compliance reporting. But they are not a magic solution to your software asset management related challenges. SAM tools, as great as they are, have shortcomings. For example, during the entitlement upload, potential errors may occur – these can be human errors, or errors related to the tool’s capability to interpret your data. You can imagine if errors occur during the data upload, you will also likely face erroneous outputs. SAM tools are a good support for your SAM practice, but you should understand their limitations and put measures in place to overcome these.

Determining your licensing position

Once you have a good overview of your entitlements as well as deployment data, you can compare the two and decide on next steps. Looking at your entitlements and deployment, you will be able to determine which programs are licensed correctly; which ones you need additional licenses for; and where you can remediate or optimize your licensing situation.

Determining your licensing position is not easy, because you actually need a lot of time and expertise to make sure you get a complete and accurate view.


Looking at how much effort and time you need to understand your current situation and then to plan for the future, might be overwhelming. Although it is a process, it’s an effort worth making to ensure you remain compliant to avoid spending unnecessarily on software programs and licenses.

The good news is that you don’t have to embark on this journey alone. SoftwareOne’s software licensing and commercial advisory services are designed to support you at every step of this journey.

A blurry image of a computer screen with numbers on it.

Gaining insight into your licensing estate

Most companies spend large amounts on software and yours is probably no exception. It’s time to take control of your IT estate.

Gaining insight into your licensing estate

Most companies spend large amounts on software and yours is probably no exception. It’s time to take control of your IT estate.


SoftwareOne blog editorial team

Blog Editorial Team

We analyse the latest IT trends and industry-relevant innovations to keep you up-to-date with the latest technology.