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Software Asset Management: Delivering outstanding business intelligence

For many years, Software Asset Management (SAM) was put on the shelf, gathering dust, and only when an organisation had an audit request was that layer of dust brushed off and Pandora’s Box opened. Finally though, this is starting to change.

Over the last five years the SAM industry has raised awareness of software vendors’ audits through events, research, and communities, as well as helped customers into managing their software assets on a continuous basis (rather than at the request of the vendor). This has brought to light more of the pros of managing software deployed across all environments:

  • Prevent overspend
  • Save money
  • Remain compliant
  • Save time and resource when an audit request comes in

Unfortunately, customers are still struggling to remain in full control of their software assets due to new technologies (such as virtualisation or smart devices) or complicated software licensing rules, and a lot of organisations are yet to realise the full potential of a proactive SAM process.

What should you gain from your SAM process?

Working toward compliance isn’t the only stage of the SAM process that should be focused on. If your organisation reaches a state of compliance (great!) it must be maintained. Companies don’t stand still, employees leave or change roles and companies grow or merge all the time. As your organisation is changing, so do your software requirements, and you need to keep on top of your compliance status to mitigate any risks that come with it.

By implementing a proactive SAM process, you should constantly be able to see the changes in your network and apply the correct licences to the correct software – real time. This is a major responsibility that a lot of companies struggle to maintain but it can’t be left until the last minute when a vendor knocks on your door (not always, you’re more likely to receive a letter). You could end up taking four weeks out of business-as-usual to try and fill any licensing gaps and even then you may still walk away with a fine.

Did you know: According to Gartner, the average software audit costs $500,000?

Another benefit of a proactive SAM solution is reaching high ISO standards. On the day-to-day running of SAM, organisations are struggling to move past the administration tasks that have to be done, as seventy three per cent of a SAM Manager's time is spent reconciling licences, compiling install and software usage data and auditing their licence agreements – at what point do you start to move forward?

As well as staying on top of your admin tasks, you will also need to stay ahead of changes to licensing rules. It almost feels that as soon as an upgrade becomes available, the licensing policy that runs alongside it updates as well. Finding the time to attend licensing courses, gain qualifications, and read every article or tips and tricks published by the vendor is impossible – by the time you’re completely up to date with version 4.5, version 5.0 is released and has loads of extra features and a new licensing policy, so we start all over again.

In an ideal world, we would all have a team dedicated to each individual SAM function. There would be one or two data analysts, a licensing specialist, someone to reconcile all the data, and a SAM Manager ensuring everyone was abiding to company policies and working with other departments to show exactly what is installed, how it’s being used, where new purchases are being made, or what areas may need a little more protecting.

Unfortunately, for most organisations, this isn’t the case. Some companies struggle to find time to control their software assets on a day to day basis so SAM is put on the back burner and pulled out when a vendor arrives or if there’s ever time to fit it in.

Who owns SAM?

There has always been a question around which department should take control of the SAM process. Do IT manage it as they deploy the software across the estate, or do Procurement manage it because they need to know how much money is being spent? We don’t see SAM as a straight vertical; it touches many areas of the business. Yes, IT do deploy the software and yes, Procurement do manage the costs, but who sees the money saved by spare licences? Who sees the way software is being used? And who is responsible for preventing any wrongdoing?

How can you deliver intelligent information back to your business?

Having your software data records to hand is easily the best option. If three vendors turn up within a twelve month period (which is likely if you use Adobe, Microsoft, and IBM software), you can be audit ready at any time. Don’t let the vendor panic you into producing the results on their timescale; be prepared with up-to-date records that you can hand over in a matter of days and stay on top of any licensing changes as they happen.

By being in control, you are not only preparing yourself for an upcoming audit, you can start to save your organisation money which, in turn, will drive value back into the business. Implementing a SAM policy for all employees to abide by will help generate (and keep) momentum to remain compliant. Monthly meetings with department managers for reviewing any software requests will reveal spare licences, and prevent the purchase of unnecessary new licences - nothing gets deployed that could potentially jeopardise the company’s license position. These meetings are also a great way to make sure everyone is aware of any changes that may have happened within the company’s infrastructure and the amount of money being saved by having a clear view of your software assets.

Within the first year of implementing a SAM process, Gartner states that you are expected to save up to thirty per cent on your software licences, then a further fiver per cent in years two and three. This automatically frees up a large chunk of your IT budget. Add in the savings you make from avoiding any fines, and you are looking at a huge investment you can put back into the company to drive business forward.

All in all, software assets are a huge investment made by almost every organisation. Managing them effectively just makes sense.

Libby Phillipps, Marketing Manager at License Dashboard