3 pitfalls that all SAM tool users should be aware of

Many organizations around the world benefit from the implementation of Software Asset Management tools.  Tools can definitely help your organization automate some of the SAM processes, which creates major efficiency gains in the data gathering & analysis process and gives insight in the licensing position of the organization. Expectations of these tools are often high and dashboards are presumed to provide a state of control and insight. However, many organizations do not realize that in order to leverage the tool in a complete and accurate manner, additional steps are required to configure the tool and interpret the data correctly. A task that requires experience and expert knowledge.

This experience and knowledge is typically not something that can be obtained easily by SAM-Managers and tool users themselves. Agreements and pricing rules are very complicated and keeping track of all the contractual adjustments over time is a tedious and time-consuming task.

If the tool is not set up correctly or in an incomplete manner, this will have a direct impact on the measurement rules and consequently on the output of the tool.  You should realize that small details in your software contracts can have a large impact on the findings within your dashboard. Having a tool in place is great, but don’t forget the basic principle: ‘garbage in, garbage out’. No tool on earth can measure or incorporate input data that is missing. We elaborate on 3 common pitfalls that clearly show the necessity and added value of setting up the tool with acknowledged license expertise.

1. Garbage in, garbage out: paying unnecessary costs

We see many organizations that trust the outcomes of the compliance dashboard without having a good understanding of all the contractual terms and conditions. As a consequence, the entitlement data is not (completely) uploaded and correctly configured into the tool. Not taking these entitlement details into account can easily result in a substantial bill that is an unnecessary cost for the organization. Let us give an example:

B-lay worked with a bank that was about to pay license and recurring support fees for 83 Processor licenses of the Oracle Database Enterprise Edition Options: Partitioning, OLAP and Spatial. This organization did not upload and configure their Oracle contracts correctly into Flexera. According to the dashboard, they lacked these processor licenses and this interpretation was initially considered to be the truth. When the contracts were analyzed and configured correctly it turned out that the usage rights of these software programs were integrated in the application licenses making use of these database instances. Flexera’s Application Recognition Library (ARL) can be updated by manually mapping the evidences that were not recognized by the ARL to their corresponding software products. The true relationship between the contractual terms and the technical measurement would never have become clear without manual analysis and upload of the relevant entitlement data. Missing this ‘detail’ clearly had a huge impact.

Direct cost avoidance resulting from the contract analysis and upload: 10 million EURO.

2. Garbage in, garbage out: misinterpreting the risks

When the relationship between the entitlements and the deployment is not configured in a complete and accurate manner the compliance results give a misleading view on the actual risks your organization is facing. The devil is in the details and when these details are misinterpreted or forgotten, the organization can be confronted with nasty, unexpected surprises. Let’s give another real case example:

B-lay worked with a governmental organization that had, according to their compliancy dashboard, no issues. However due to a lack of knowledge regarding their contracts the organization was not aware of applicable conditions with regards to software deployed on virtual servers. Hence, this was not taken into account in configuring and implementing SNOW. The consequence was an unnoticed financial exposure of many millions.  Creating the relationship between the configuration of the virtual environments and the licensing rules with regards to the software deployment on virtual servers is in many cases an additional, manual activity that requires in-depth licensing knowledge and experience. In this case, such knowledge and experience could be leveraged by manually adjusting the rules in Snow’s Software Recognition Services (SRS) in order to create a true and complete insight in the actual risks the organization was bearing.

Identified risk after implementing the contractual policies: 60 million EURO.

3. Unnoticed cost saving opportunities   

Even if your SAM-Tool is configured and managed in a complete and accurate manner, many organizations lack the insight and experience to spot all potential cost saving opportunities.  This requires an in-depth understanding of all the contractual terms and conditions and their relation to the deployment data. Yet you can benefit from experts that can help you analyze and interpret all the data in the tool in order to achieve cost savings and cost avoidance. There are many examples to give of the tool showing a 0 (zero) cost compliance issue, while there might be many opportunities to save costs and pay less to the vendor. The question is to what extent you are able to spot these opportunities.

To give one more example:

B-lay worked with a publishing company that was confronted with a compliancy issue of 1.9 million EURO. Instead of bringing this back to 0 (zero), licensing expertise and experience could be leveraged by making a few small changes which lead to a direct cost saving of 20.000 EURO. There are many entitlement restrictions (e.g. software can only be used at a specific geographical location, software can only be used by specific legal entities, software can only be used for your business purposes and not for the business purposes of third parties (hosting)) which cannot be captured by any tool, but can lead to significant financial consequences. Additional expertise and manual analysis can help you identify these kind of restrictions and determine how to comply with them in the best and most effective way.  And an audit that leads to savings costs instead of spending money is of course always a nice situation to be in!

Direct cost saving: 20.000 EURO, cost avoidance: 1.9 million EURO.

How about you and your SAM tool?

Interested to find out whether your SAM tool has been completely configured and your dashboard represents the factual situation? A few questions can point out whether your organization might by facing the common pitfalls:

Did you analyze, upload and configure all the necessary entitlement information in your SAM tool?

Does your SAM tool measure all the metrics/product bundles? If not, what processes are in place to complement this?

Do you keep track of all the contractual changes over time and adjust the measurement mechanisms accordingly in your SAM tool?

Do you understand how the (compliance) output of the SAM tool can be translated into cost saving opportunities?

If one of the above questions is answered with ‘no’ it might be time to think about the quality of the output that your SAM tool is able to generate. And it’s generally not the tool to blame here. Bottom-line is that the configuration and maintenance of your tool needs in-depth expertise and experience. Remember that tools usually don’t know what you don’t know. B-lay has both the knowledge and experience to enable you to leverage the full power of the tool. Our experience in supporting organizations all over the world that struggled with these pitfalls shows that it’s worth the investment. As said before, missing small details can easily lead to large consequences.

Interested to know if your organization is trusting a dashboard that is an accurate representation of the facts? Want to know whether your tool output is audit-proof and deviates from a complete compliance assessment? Want to know more about how to analyze, upload and configure the entitlement data in your tool?

Contact us on info@b-lay.com, we are happy to help!

This article was published on 29-06-2016