4 Steps to Better Software Asset Management Processes

July 16, 2015
Editorial Staff


Editorial Staff

As the business value of modern software applications increases, corporations are heavily investing in software to better streamline their business processes. Yet, they have neither the time nor knowledge to manage these assets as efficiently as traditional, physical hardware. The result is often mismanaged software assets without any impactful processes in place. To implement a successful process, you first need to understand the purpose of software asset management (SAM). In general, the purpose of SAM is to keep track of software deployments and assets as well as to help organizations make informed software spending decisions.

Before you can dive into developing a better SAM process, many organizations will first have experts conduct an initial investigation into the current processes. This investigation is called a software asset management engagement, and it can be particularly insightful.


The process of a SAM engagement is relatively complex, requiring a broad array of knowledge ranging from the technical expertise to manage and monitor the SAM tool scanning the IT environment to the licensing knowledge necessary for interpreting the data retrieved from the SAM assessment. However, below we attempt to break it down into its fundamental parts:

Introduction and Evaluation. Together with the organization’s IT team, the SAM expert reviews the scope of the engagement, suggests applicable SAM tools, and outlines the timeline of the engagement.

Scan and Analysis. The SAM specialist performs a software scan with the chosen SAM solution and retrieves the license entitlement data from all requested publishers. This information will then be analyzed, compared, and compiled into a report that shows if your organization is under or over licensed for each product.

Standardization of Your Environment. Based on the license statement and gathered information from the environment, recommendations can be made regarding the best and most cost-effective way to license your software portfolio, such as contract adjustments, additional purchases, or license consolidation.


Although each SAM engagement can be customized to resolve an organization’s specific needs, below are the primary reasons organizations conduct a SAM engagement:

  • To obtain full visibility into the installed and used software assets, license ownership, and current compliance situation.
  • To minimize the financial exposure and audit risk, achieved by following best-practice cost reduction and avoidance optimization models.
  • To maintain peace-of-mind that over-spending on software licenses can be partially or completely avoided.
  • To enable operational efficiency while reducing liability and legal exposure.
  • To protect against potential publisher audits.


According to the ITIL Guide, “Software is a major asset for a company when looking at its costs, and an even greater one when looking at its ability to forward business objectives. But, when outdated, misconfigured or unpatched, it can also be a huge liability. [SAM] covers processes to maximize software as an asset while minimizing its risks” (our emphasis).

These “processes” alluded to above follow a typical 4-step process:

Step 1: Setup, Scope, and Kick-off  

What are the key milestones to achieve during the engagement? Make sure your entire team is on the same page when it comes to the purpose of the SAM process investigation. Have clear goals in mind to measure your success as you go along.

Step 2: Discovery, Scan, and Inventory  

What assets are installed and owned? During this step, you should be accounting for every piece of software that’s installed on a given device and cross-referencing with the number of software licenses you’ve purchased and to whom they’re licensed to. Often times, employees will share login information with each other not realizing the risks involved.

Step 3: Analysis

What is the compliance situation? This step can be a painful one if you recognized in step 2 that you have more software installed than you have licenses. Determine where your compliance issues are coming from and work with relevant stakeholders to purchase the additional licenses you need to be in compliance.

Step 4: Delivery  

How can processes be improved? At this point, you must outline plans for SAM process improvement based on your findings and analysis.


Organizations looking to maximize their software investments and minimize legal risks should consider improving their software asset management process through engagement. If any of the above points are something you currently struggle with in your IT environment, click the banner below to schedule a free discussion with one of our SAM experts!

Leave a Reply