5 quick wins for software asset management

Software asset management is a long-term process, especially if you seek full compliance or significant cost savings. Before organizations implement a SAM approach, I always recommend them to go through the five steps below. They are quick wins that will help you to have basic control. Also, they provide information that helps you to make your strategy much more effective.

1.     Determine who are your top three software publishers

Software asset management should ultimately provide more insight into your (hidden) software spend. Insight that helps to cut costs and avoid license violations. But even without complete insight, it should be no problem to see which three software vendors you spend most of your budget on. Especially in large/enterprise organizations, you can assume that this involves server software, often from vendors such as Oracle, SAP, IBM or Microsoft, with hundreds to thousands of users. The reason to focus primarily on the three ‘most expensive’ suppliers is obvious: the higher the spend, the greater the potential of a back payment or fine following a licensing violation.

2.     Gather all documentation for these three vendors

Once you have determined which three suppliers you will focus on, it is important to gather all documents, licenses and contracts accordingly. For some organizations, this will be easier than for others, but the goal is the same: it should be as complete as possible. It is better to have a complete overview for three publishers than incomplete overviews for ten software publishers. Details make the difference in license management.

3.      Map out what you have exactly and set up an administration

Based on all documentation gathered, you can determine exactly what software you have within your organization from the top three software suppliers. But not only that, you also want to know who purchased the software (and still does), what was and is paid and the conditions under which you may use the software. In other words, what are the risks and responsibilities? The documents provide this information. This goes beyond the product, the number of licenses and license metric: the restrictions and limitations are also important, as well as which products are included in delivery and are required to use the product. The result of step three is a basic administration of your top three suppliers, which allows you to take the next step.

4.     Decide how you deal with the risks from now on

The administration is your handhold: if you do not know what you have, you cannot avoid the associated risks. The question is how you deal now with this information. In a large organization, it is important for a SAM manager to raise awareness of the risks and responsibilities in the IT department – especially for anyone who is authorized to buy software. Purchases only became easier with cloud and all associated subscriptions: just leave your credit card details and a new piece of software has been purchased. In addition to internal communication, external communication also plays a role: how do you use this information in discussions with software vendors? If you know exactly what you have, if you are aware of your responsibilities and if you understand how to respond to risks, you’ll be better prepared. The image that you project to the publishers is crucial as was already explained in the previous blog.

5.      Look what sequel approach is most appropriate for your organization

In this last step, you will start to look at the (medium to) long term strategy. The first four steps formed a blueprint of how this process should look like in the future. You now know what is the easiest way to collect all the information and this knowledge is enormously valuable. Instead of pushing strategy top-down, you build it from the bottom up – much more efficient. Not only have you achieved several quick wins in the compliance area, you have also received an enormous amount of data to further develop a SAM strategy. It is nothing more than business intelligence because based on all that data you can simply make better decisions. Which research method fits your organization best? What software will you use to measure software use?

For small and medium sized organizations, there is also the question whether you would want to measure everything anyway. For them it is often sufficient to be minimally in control, because they are not constantly under scrutiny by the audit teams of software vendors. In organizations with hundreds to tens of thousands of employees it is different: you simply must have a SAM strategy and further expand the basic administration with other software vendors. The above steps are just the beginning of a process in which you constantly monitor your licenses, software usage and costs.

This article is also published in Dutch on Computable.nl.

This article was published on 17-02-2017