As employees become more reliant on software to help them communicate, organize, and even automate daily business operations, Software Asset Management (SAM) has become a business-critical process. Software asset management refers to a set of integrated procedures, team members, and tools, which monitor and provide visibility into each of an organization’s software assets and usages.
If your organization was asked to perform a software audit tomorrow, would you be able to? This means knowing every software application that has been purchased and deployed across your network, data center, cloud, and mobile devices. Furthermore, you may want to know how many people use that software and which features they use, then cross reference that information with license agreements and the acceptable usages agreed upon in the contract made with your solution provider. This can be an overwhelming process, especially as departments and individuals often circumvent procurement or IT protocol, acquiring licenses and solutions themselves.
Mitigating Risks with a Software Asset Management Plan
A software asset management plan prepares organizations for these events, but cannot be thrown together quickly in the face of a software audit or spending report. Lack of visibility into your software assets can negatively impact your organization in many ways. A few examples are:
- Compliance: Heavy fines can be administered after a software audit if your organization is not operating within the parameters and encyclopedia of often complex rules that each software publisher dictates.
- Security: Lack of visibility into software assets, especially end of service lives, often means security patches and software updates that mitigate vulnerabilities are administered late, if at all, which may result in a network breach.
- Overspending: Purchasing software licenses or the wrong license types (i.e. enterprise vs. standard) for applications your employees do not actually use results in gross overspending, often 30-40%, which is money that can better serve the organization elsewhere.
To avoid these and other pitfalls associated with improper SAM, organizations of all sizes must build and implement a Software Asset Management (SAM) strategy. This starts with a review of the current state across attributes like internal governance, tools, talent, policy and others. This is where many organizations run into issues with SAM implementation, as they often do not have the necessary in-house expertise to effectively plan, monitor and take action on all the data collected surrounding software use. This presents a challenge as SAM needs a team with the right experience and expertise to understand complicated licensing contracts and entitlements. Entitlements cannot yet be automated, as many vendors might suggest, and new purchases from each vendor will need to be verified and correlated with inventory data collected by the SAM tool. Teams must have methods and the right skills to decipher and properly apply the software rights (upgrade rights, downgrade rights, mobility rights, etc.).
As a result, SoftwareONE has found that it can take between six and eight years for an organization to build a mature and proactive SAM program on its own that provides the business with intelligence to optimize software spending. This maturation process can be lessened substantially if dedicated and experienced help from managed service providers is adopted.
Once a mature SAM program is established, the result is a cost effective, compliant software program that withstands employee turnover and maximizes ROI. Studies show well-implemented programs can reduce IT software spend by 30 percent within the first three to six months.
Implementing an Effective SAM Plan
To bring the SAM program to this level of maturity that enables organizations to align business needs with software budgets and licensing and entitlement logistics, organizations must establish, or hire, (or a combination of the two via SAM managed services) a SAM team that can select and manage the proper tool and understand contracts and entitlements with major vendors.
There are three main stages to SAM:
- Plan: In this stage, organizations are identifying key stakeholders in the program, determining what resources are already allocated towards software asset management, and determining the current level of compliance. This team will span multiple departments to understand overall software use and will ultimately select which SAM tool to deploy to meet business goals. An important part often overlooked is the planning for policy or new process adoption.
- Build: The building stage is where the tool comes in. While the features of the tool may vary, it should be able to discover, identify, and normalize a complete inventory of your software both on-premises and in the cloud. From there, this tool should also aggregate licenses to allow the team to compare each license being used against how many licenses have been purchased. With this actionable information, SAM teams can begin to optimize the software estate.
- It is also in this stage that teams will have to get an understanding of entitlements and license complexities. This information will be collated/collected alongside the discovery data in the SAM tool, however, it is not easy to gather.
- Some of the methods teams can use to aggregate and understand this information include directly reviewing contracts from major publishers or getting quotes and invoices from the procurement team. Organizations can also contract SAM professionals who can contact publishers directly without fear of causing an audit, as well as establishing VAR feeds to assess data extracted by resellers.
- Run: With an accurate software inventory and full understanding of software entitlements, many think compliance will just fall into place. However, now this information must be continuously updated and assessed to ensure compliance, security, and cost optimization on a long-term basis, by matching inventory and use against contracts and orders. It is a continuous lifecycle not just a one-time fix.
Building a Mature SAM Plan with SAMSimple
The planning, monitoring, and regular optimization required for SAM can be resource and time intensive, especially due to the specific skillset it demands. SoftwareONE helps clients reap the benefits of a mature SAM program with SAMSimple. SAMSimple is a service for smaller customers that brings a complete solution including people, process and technology to plan, run, and maintain an optimized SAM program in a fraction of the time it would take an organization to build from the ground up. SoftwareONE’s team of licensing experts mitigates common SAM challenges, assisting in gathering a complete software inventory across devices, the data center, and the cloud. From there, they evaluate complex licensing agreements, contracts, and entitlements to determine compliance. Based on inventory, entitlements, and business needs, the SAMSimple team crafts and executes a plan that will bring real-time alignment to software assets and changing business needs at an accelerated rate of three to four times faster than a typical SAM journey.
Building and implementing a software asset management plan takes time and resources. It will require in-depth review of procedures, procurement processes, tech capabilities, and the expertise offered by your team. However, when done properly, SAM programs can drastically reduce spending and maximize ROI, making it a critical investment for any sized organization.
Learn how SoftwareONE’s SAMSimple can accelerate the maturity of your organization’s SAM program to be dynamic and predictive within months, rather than years.