Software Asset Management (SAM) is a dynamic sector characterized by high complexity and a wide range of diverse skills and areas of expertise: from tools and technical infrastructure to data collection processes and legal understanding. Organizations have different needs regarding the implementation of Software Asset Management. But the only way to achieve a complete understanding of your entire software landscape and IT infrastructure is to set this up accurately.
What is Software Asset Management?
In simple words, the practice of SAM is meant to manage and optimize the purchasing, deployment, use, maintenance and disposal of an organization’s software assets. The main goal of SAM is to limit cost spending and avoid legal risks, while making sure the end users make the best use of the software.
The drivers of SAM
SAM is more than just installations – it’s an essential component at the core of every organization. With a solid SAM strategy, organisations avoid overspending, stay legal and are empowered to make better decisions concerning software licenses. The fundamental drives of SAM are thus:
• Lowering licensing costs and optimising licensing position
Being over- or under licensed can be very costly as you are either paying for software you are not using or risking unexpected fines (which can cost you really big). In time, being over licensed can actually cost more than failing an audit because it slowly keeps adding up. On top of this, a software audit can take months and will disrupt ongoing business.
• Be compliant and up to date at all times
As a user you are obliged to live up to the terms and conditions stated in the license agreement. Stick to the software you have bought and don’t use more than you are allowed to.
The importance of Software License Management within SAM
Since all software comes with a license, software license management is the sub domain that you should pay attention to. The reason is rather simple: if you don’t respect the contractual terms agreed for the type of software licenses that your company is using, you may face non-compliance. Another situation when you might be found non-compliant if you don’t properly manage your software licenses is when you deploy and use unlicensed software. This can happen since most of the times there is no technical limitation when it comes to installing the software.
On the other hand, there are organizations that purchase software licenses that are never used and for which they also pay support or maintenance fees. Therefore, having a clear overview of what is purchased and what is in use can help your organization avoid non-compliance and at the same time save costs. This is just the tip of the SAM iceberg, as a thorough SAM practice involves multiple aspects.
Is SAM for every organization?
So, who should be interested in SAM? The short answer would be all organizations. In practice, that is not necessarily true. Many organizations underestimate the importance of SAM and only turn to it when software vendors knock on their doors with an audit letter in hand. The moment that the dreaded letter is on your desk is already a bit too late. However, with the help of skilled SAM specialists, you can still get complete and accurate insights into your software entitlements and deployments and eventually achieve cost savings.
The main downside of software asset management is that is not taken seriously by organizations, although this started to change lately. Some companies still think that SAM is not worth to invest in, or think that it’s something they can do in-house, without or with minimum software licensing experience. Others consider that if they invested in a SAM tool, then everything is covered. However, a SAM tool is limited in terms of capacities or product groups covered and will always need manual maintenance to ensure accurate reports are provided.
Once you have purchased a SAM tool and installed it, don’t forget the importance of a correct setup and continuous management. Read more here about SAM tool set-up and common challenges when using SAM tools.
Having a healthy SAM practice in place can ensure you’re compliant from a software licensing perspective, avoid unnecessary costs and even achieve cost savings.
The following tips can help you ensure compliance and minimise risk:
• Make sure that you fully comprehend what is stated in the license agreement
Take your time to go through the license agreement so that you understand the stated terms and what you are expected to comply with. If certain parts are difficult or unclear, be sure to ask questions so that you are not left in the dark.
• Conduct internal audits
Instead of waiting for the vendor’s audit it is a good idea to conduct one yourself on a regular basis. If you find out that you are either over- or under licensed, you either save money or dodge the bullet by not having to pay a serious fine.
• Automate the process
Automating the process will reduce an enormous amount of time spent on managing software assets. Automation will give greater insights into software usage, allocation and compliance. IT will be ready to make more accurate software budget recommendations and face vendors when they come along. Because they will come along at some point.
• Integrate SAM into the whole organization
Make sure that everyone understands the importance of SAM and what is expected of them. SAM should be alive throughout every department to make the most out of it.
• Look ahead
It’s always good to think about the future and take future growth into account. If you do a what-if analysis you can take the factor growth into your calculations when it comes to deciding how many licenses to acquire.
• Ask for help
Software asset management and software license management done thoroughly takes a lot of knowledge, time and effort. It makes plenty of sense to hire professionals with experience and expertise to take care of this in many cases.
Need help with a sound & long-term approach to SAM? It is important to stay in control and validate that all of your SAM activities and policies are doing what they should be doing. We offer services to leverage the full potential of your SAM tool and to achieve cost savings. Check out our SAM Managed Services Solution.