Software Asset Management is a big part of an organization’s business technology strategy. The process involves taking ownership of a company’s software usage by managing and optimizing the spend, deployment, software licenses, license compliance, utilization, and disposal of software applications across all software business functions.
Software Asset Management (SAM) is a subset of the wider IT asset management (ITAM) practice, which makes sure all IT assets are managed and maintained.
SAM is particularly important for big organizations because it primarily deals with the redistribution of software licensing. SAM assists in managing the legal risks associated with software ownership and expiration. This is especially important if you use SaaS software.
With software playing such a central role in the day-to-day functions and growth of any modern organization, SAM has many benefits to help companies achieve strategic goals and keep their software running smoothly.
Software asset management aims to reduce costs by negotiating or renegotiating contract agreements and eliminating or relocating underutilized software licenses. SAM benefits businesses by documenting, reducing, and managing the various costs associated with software applications. This makes sure that all software is being used as intended.
Without a good handle on licensing agreements, legal problems or security risks may occur. SAM enforces compliance through corporate security policies, renewal date monitoring, updated hardware standards, etc. Software companies want to manage how much of their product is being used and by whom, so SAM keeps businesses compliant with the specifics of the service.
By making sure licensing and software services continue to be managed through automated SAM tools, workers will know exactly how they are supposed to use the program and for what. This makes sure employees spend less time tackling potential problems that could arise somewhere down the line. SAM also helps businesses track which employees are using what software and how much, so they can have an idea of where to add or remove resources based on that data to improve employee productivity.
The same goes for IT efficiency. Both SAM and ITAM allow businesses to increase the usage they receive out of the hardware and software they invest in and use. IT asset management does this by limiting the overhead associated with managing and supporting all IT processes. In software asset management this means streamlining and automating regular processes to make them much more efficient.
SAM can help establish ongoing policies surrounding software and software vendor life cycles, which helps establish the long-term benefits of software asset management. This includes the documentation, deployment, usage, and retirement of a certain software over time as the business grows.
Software asset management is focused on three key areas:
There are several core processes that form the DNA of software asset management. The seven below are the core processes a SAM project needs to be built around.
When senior management is considering implementing a SAM strategy, there are a handful of positions within the discipline to consider based on the company’s needs and specifications. SAM positions include Software Asset Management Administrators, Analysts, Managers, Consultants, and Specialists.
Each member of the SAM team will have different responsibilities depending on what’s needed; for example, analysts will conduct internal audits and analyze license usage, while consultants may be brought on temporarily if expert guidance is needed.
As a company matures, so does the role SAM plays. A use case example would be the SaaS Center of Excellence (SCoE) employing a SAM manager to streamline SaaS discovery and management, reporting, user lifecycles, rationalizing and rightsizing, and reporting on engagement and utilization.
This is established as the company builds its application portfolio and needs to carefully monitor and uphold license agreements in parallel with orchestrating a multidisciplinary, agile, and integrated IT environment.
Within software asset management there are three sub-pillars that make the benefits of SAM possible. These are software license management, software vendor management, and software spend management.
Together these three pillars provide the foundation of the SAM strategy and form the basis for ongoing improvement.
With some organizations running hundreds of different software applications at once, the job of documenting, reducing, and managing them all is what makes SAM such an asset. SAM tools make it possible to keep on top of multiple complex software licensing agreements at the same time.
Furthermore, with various software applications being either SaaS, cloud-based, or on-premise, managing various different licenses is time-consuming and complicated, especially if the software has been purchased without company knowledge (known as shadow IT). In this case, SaaS management solutions are leveraged.
Making sure businesses are able to work closely and efficiently with SaaS and other vendors to achieve company goals is another pillar of software asset management. Similar to SaaS vendor management, once new software has been researched, purchased, and implemented, it’s important that a company remains compliant with the vendor's terms of service.
Failing audits can result in hefty fees so rather than waiting for a negative outcome, SAM assists in running internal audits to preemptively uncover any compliance breaches or potential risks.
The third sub-pillar of SAM is concerned with software spend. Internal IT audits will help a company understand where software is currently being used and where it isn’t. From here, businesses can budget for the future based on current software licenses and upcoming renewals.
Software spend management solutions that specifically focus on SaaS, for example, will set up standards for how SaaS is purchased going forward. Doing this will prevent shadow IT and any security issues associated with it.
It also prevents any unnecessary costs associated with unapproved licenses and makes sure businesses aren’t spending budget on applications they aren’t using or don’t need.
When planning and implementing a software asset management strategy, SAM best practices explained in full detail will form a framework for tackling what may seem like a daunting task.
SAM tools will help management evaluate their software landscape, implement new software solutions where needed, and manage the various licenses associated with software purchasing.
Here is how to implement software asset management:
Software asset management is a big undertaking for any organization, but without it, businesses could find themselves wading through difficult compliance issues and hugely wasteful software spending.
The next step once the main drivers for SAM have been established is to follow the best practices and find the best-fit software or SaaS management platform to accomplish strategic business technology goals.
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