Software Asset Management: It’s More than Audit and Compliance
Most people, when they think about Software Asset Management (SAM) (and, let’s be honest, most people try to avoid thinking about it at all), they think about minimizing disruption and cost of audits and ensuring that the organization remains in a compliant state to avoid heavy fines from their vendors. To be fair to these people, that is what a large part of SAM is—ensuring that the organization is paying appropriately for the products they use to avoid costly audits or legal battles.
However, to consider it only in terms of these narrow boundaries does SAM a disservice and means you’re probably missing out on the biggest benefits of truly managing software. Here are our top three:
Benefit 1: Managing Non-licensed Software
Traditional B2B-purchased software is probably only a fraction of what gets run on corporate machines in your environment, though these are programs that will most likely be targeted by a SAM initiative. While it is of course important to track this type of software, for vendor audits you should also be tracking everything else being used. This is because the other software applications, even if they’re free to use, may have legal restrictions that could leave your organization exposed if they’re not correctly managed.
For example, many freeware applications have end-user license agreements (EULAs) that specifically state that the applications cannot be used in a corporate environment without a fee being paid. Some software can be used for illegal activities and so shouldn’t be allowed in the environment. Both scenarios are risks that are the responsibility of the software manager to mitigate, so you need to ensure you’re tracking everything installed on the machines.
When considering the wider IT organization, security will want to know about plug-ins and freeware in your network that need to be patched; procurement will want to know about software that has been purchased, but not by them; and your service delivery team may want to know what software people are using that isn’t available through the catalog so they can get it added. If these three IT functions don’t already have a method for understanding what’s installed and where, you’ll certainly buy some goodwill by sharing this data with them. If they do already track this data, then you might be able to access it to avoid having to find it all for yourself.
Benefit 2: Forecasting
Fortunately, many subscription applications are self-policing; it is impossible to accidentally use more than you’ve purchased. On the surface, this means that the software asset manager doesn’t have to do much to manage these subscriptions but, in reality, they still need lots of management. This is because you don’t know what your current level of utilization is—only that it’s lower than what has been purchased. This could mean that you are oversubscribed to a significant level.
One of the greatest benefits of knowing what you’re using and how much you’ve purchased is that you can be sure you are only spending what you need—optimizing your software purchases. For bundle licenses like the Microsoft Office 365, you can take this further and determine if you really need E5 or if some workers can actually be using E3 for example.
From this position it is then easier to determine what you might need in the future and therefore what you need in budget to continue to support the requirements of the business.
Benefit 3: Renegotiating Contracts
Properly managing your software means you’ll have three pieces of information that will put you in a strong position for re-negotiating your contracts:
- How much of your current entitlement you’re using
- What you expect you’ll need over the subsequent contractual period
- When the contract is due for renewal
Knowing this information means that you can anticipate the negotiations and indeed start the process early to ensure that you don’t get forced in to accepting terms in order to retain cover. This is because many customers don’t know how much of their entitlement they’re using and therefore accept the advice of the vendor on what they will likely need.
There are loads of other benefits for organizations that implement good SAM practices. What have you found to be the biggest benefit of improving your SAM processes that wasn’t necessarily anticipated?