Software Asset Management (SAM): What it is and what it isn’t
One definition of software asset management is as follows:
“All of the infrastructure and processes necessary for the effective management, control and protection of the software assets within an organization, throughout all stages of their lifecycle.” – ITIL v3 Best Practice Guide – Software Asset Management
That definition is a bit general, so let’s drill down a bit. What is Software Asset Management really? What are its defining characteristics?
- SAM is a business practice. It involves people, processes, and technology.
- SAM includes a set of managed processes and functional capabilities.
- SAM tools can help facilitate, and sometimes automate, these processes and capabilities; but deploying a tool by itself does not ensure the effective practice of managing software assets.
- SAM includes software on desktops but, very importantly, also on servers as that’s where the cost and operational impact of software assets is most concentrated.
- SAM is a multi-disciplinary practice that requires collaboration across several departments such as IT, Finance, Procurement, and Legal being some of the typical major players.
To understand SAM even better, it’s valuable to know what SAM is not:
- SAM is NOT a one-time exercise.
- SAM is NOT a one-person job.
- SAM is NOT just about IT.
- SAM is NOT just about compliance or audits.
- SAM is NOT just about a tool.
Simply put, Software Asset Management does not operate in a vacuum and cannot be successful without the right people, processes, and technology.
Why Software Asset Management is Important
The importance of Software Asset Management extends across an entire organization. Two of the primary aspects of SAM are cost savings and risk mitigation—from both a compliance and an IT security standpoint.
Software asset management is becoming more important to C-level executives. It’s interesting to note that Gartner® chose to stop producing an annual report for SAM tools. Perhaps this indicates a certain stability in the tools market that doesn’t need an annual run-down, but it could also mean that the industry is shifting its focus to externally managed services.
Every organization needs to reduce costs, especially in today’s economic climate. We’re happy to report that the average Anglepoint client enjoys a cost saving of 30% in the first year and 5% in the years after and often it’s even higher. This equates to millions of dollars in cost savings.
We’ve found that as the market and licensing models are changing, so are the software publishers’ revenues. They too are looking for new and creative ways to generate revenue from their existing customers and auditing is certainly one of those ways. We continue to see more and more audits. Indeed, many of our clients are facing audits from multiple software publishers.
We explore some of the lesser-considered tier 2 publishers who are increasing their audit game and some strategies for beating them in our article, Tier 2 Software Publishers: Why They Audit and What To Look Out For.
Four Strategic Benefits of Software Asset Management
Software asset management is a discipline that directly supports strategic business development. Here are the four main strategic benefits of software asset management:
- Accurate SAM Data allows organizations to identify IT security risks, finding unsupported software.
- SAM reduces compliance exposure. When auditors come knocking, they’ll find that you are paying for what’s being used, eliminating the need for potential hefty, business-changing fines. Read more in our eBook Managing a Software Compliance Audit
- The reduced risk from practicing good SAM is a key strategic benefit of software asset management that will save your organization from any potential legal, financial, and reputational damages or liabilities.
- This is a major benefit! Many of our clients see actionable savings of 30% or more in year one.
- Good SAM monitors usage on an ongoing basis, allowing you to identify re-harvesting/re-use opportunities. It’s important that you don’t spend more money than needed.
- Ongoing usage monitoring also empowers organizations to purchase software assets based on their true usage and future needs.
- Additionally, robust SAM Policies help limit rogue purchases.
- When the Configuration Management, Change Control and Business Continuity disciplines work closely with the SAM function, organizations get the most out of what they have.
- Take advantage of IT optimization opportunities, i.e., virtualization, server consolidation, etc.
- Having the right people and processes in place allows you to realize the full benefits of your software asset management tool(s). Many organizations fail to take full advantage of this.
- If you know exactly what you have and exactly what you need, you can negotiate from a position of power. This gives you confidence and ensures the best commercial and contractual outcome.
- SAM data allows for dialed-in and precise decision-making.
- Having a SAM managed service provider in your corner gives you the publisher-specific expertise you need to negotiate effectively. This detailed publisher knowledge allows for focus on key contract asks and advantageous terms.
Selecting a managed services partner carefully and utilizing them correctly is a great way of leveling up your SAM and ITAM capabilities. Day-to-day tasks can be completed effectively and efficiently with full capacity to keep an eye on what’s coming up.
Be clear as to what your in-house capabilities are and where any skills gaps sit to enable you to find the right partner to complement your organization’s SAM requirements.
Read The 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant™ for SAM Managed Services to find out who the leading SAM Managed service providers are and how they differ.