Software Asset Management (SAM) is a business practice that helps companies to effectively monitor their software inventory, ensure compliance with licensing agreements, reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary software, and minimize risks associated with software misuse.
We’re excited to offer this free Software Asset Management (SAM) 101 Lightning Course.
By providing a centralized view of all software assets, SAM enables organizations to make informed decisions about software investments, improve efficiency, and streamline operations.
The purpose of this Lightning Course is to equip you with the essential knowledge and skills needed to excel in SAM. As Software Asset Management continues to gain importance in today’s fast-paced industry, the course provides a natural and engaging learning experience, empowering organizations to effectively navigate the complexities of software assets.
Directors of Customer Success at Anglepoint, Chris Nielsen and Ryan Krueger, will be sharing the essential basics of Software Asset Management.
This Lightning Course is divided into 7 instructional videos.
Here are the points we cover in the SAM 101 Lightning Course:
- What is Software Asset Management (SAM)?
- Why is SAM important?
- Understanding software entitlement
- Software discovery & inventory
- Software license management
- Software asset lifecycle
- Successful SAM program characteristics
For any specific questions, feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].
What is Software Asset Management (SAM)?
Software Asset Management (SAM) is a crucial business practice that involves managing, controlling, optimizing, and maintaining software assets within an organization. The purpose of SAM is to efficiently oversee software acquisition, deployment, utilization, and maintenance, with the aim of driving cost savings, compliance, and improved decision-making.
SAM encompasses several key aspects, including software entitlement, discovery and inventory, license management, and the software asset lifecycle. It goes beyond mere license tracking and inventory management, requiring a comprehensive understanding of how software is used, its business relevance, and its impact on overall operations.
SAM is not limited to the IT department; it involves collaboration among various departments, such as IT, finance, procurement, and product management. This cross-functional approach ensures that relevant data points are considered, leading to a mature and sustainable SAM program.
Contrary to common misconceptions, SAM is not a one-time effort, nor is it solely about saving money. While cost optimization is important, SAM also contributes to enhanced security practices, better governance, and risk mitigation. It does not merely rely on tools; even with advanced software, a broken process, and poor data quality will lead to ineffective outcomes.
SAM involves proactive monitoring of software inventory, ensuring compliance with licensing agreements, reducing unnecessary software usage, and minimizing risks associated with improper software utilization. By centralizing information about software assets, SAM enables informed decision-making that drives efficiency, cost savings, and streamlined IT operations.
The benefits of SAM include a proactive approach to license compliance and risk mitigation, cost optimization, improved IT efficiency, enhanced security and data protection, and better overall governance and strategic decision-making. SAM goes beyond tracking licenses and installations; it involves understanding software usage patterns and aligning software deployments with business needs.
Learn more about our SAM Managed Services.
Why is Software Asset Management important?
Now we’re going to learn about why Software Asset Management (SAM) is important and elaborates on the many reasons to build and maintain an effective SAM program.
When it comes to why SAM is important, cost optimization and savings take center stage as organizations can potentially save up to 30% of their software costs by implementing a robust SAM program, as supported by Gartner. For that reason, wise stewardship of software investments and careful procurement are essential to drive business value and ensure financial efficiency.
License compliance and risk mitigation are also very important and emerge as intertwined objectives. Since software usage is bound by licensing agreements, a well-structured SAM program ensures legal and financial adherence to contractual terms, thereby minimizing potential risks and liabilities.
Enhanced IT resource management and productivity are also cited as key drivers. A sustainable SAM program facilitates optimal resource allocation, ensuring that individuals are engaged in value-added tasks rather than mundane operations. Productivity is further bolstered by enabling seamless access to required software, aligning with organizational goals.
The alignment of SAM initiatives with overarching organizational strategies prioritizes projects and ensures that the SAM program contributes to the company’s broader vision. Moreover, SAM plays a pivotal role in enhancing security and data protection by identifying vulnerable or unsupported software and mitigating risks associated with legacy applications.
The placement of SAM within an organization is broad in the asset management landscape. There are interconnected domains of Technology Asset Management, IT Service Management, Hardware Asset Management, and Software Asset Management. Within the SAM realm, the critical roles of software license management and compliance are emphasized, underscoring the necessity of measuring owned software against actual usage.
By underscoring the significance of SAM from various angles—spanning cost savings, compliance, productivity, security, and strategic alignment—this lesson clarifies where SAM fits within an organization’s asset management ecosystem and hints at the dynamic nature of the field, including its intersection with cloud operations and TBM.
Understanding Software Entitlement
It is important to understand the concept of software entitlement and its integral role in Software Asset Management (SAM). Software entitlement refers to the rights and permissions granted to organizations for the usage of specific software products. These entitlements are defined by the terms and conditions outlined in software license agreements.
The intricate nature of software entitlements encompasses various attributes beyond what is commonly seen on purchase orders or invoices. Key attributes include license type (e.g., subscription or perpetual), usage metrics (such as per user, per device, or per processor), geographic restrictions, use rights (production vs. non-production servers), audit rights, and more.
Measuring software entitlements can be very complex, partly because it extends beyond raw purchasing transaction data. Understanding software entitlements necessitates a comprehensive approach that accounts for factors like merger and acquisition activity, varying purchasing methods (directly from publishers, via resellers, or cloud marketplaces), and decentralized business unit purchases.
On top of that, it’s so important that you are gathering accurate and comprehensive software entitlement data, as that is what forms the foundation of effective SAM and ensures compliance with contractual agreements. The complexities of modern software procurement, including cloud-based subscriptions and SaaS models, further accentuate the need for meticulous entitlement tracking.
Software Discovery & Inventory
Building upon the lesson about software entitlement, the next step is to understand license discovery and inventory, or license consumption management.
License consumption management plays a pivotal role in ensuring compliance with software license terms and conditions. The primary objective is to prevent exceeding the number of purchased licenses, a vital concern as organizations scale and employ software across a multitude of devices.
Moreover, the process of software discovery involves employing specialized tools to scan an organization’s network. These tools operate through either agent-based or agent-less approaches, probing devices with IP addresses to gather critical information. Analogous to knocking on doors in a neighborhood, the tools collect data about servers, workstations, and network equipment, categorizing attributes like the type of server or installed software.
Accuracy and completeness of discover data is absolutely critical. A low success rate in scanning and discovery can undermine the reliability of collected data, potentially leading to inaccurate license consumption insights. Striving for at least a 95% discoverability rate becomes imperative.
After discovery, the inventory phase comes next, where the collected data is filtered to isolate relevant and licensable software. Among the myriad entries in a computer’s “add or remove programs” list, only a handful require license tracking. The inventory process involves identifying software patterns and fingerprints to precisely determine the software being used. There is a critical connection between software discovery, inventory, and license entitlement; understanding that connection is essential to effective software asset management.
Software License Management
After establishing ownership through software entitlement and exploring license consumption, our focus now shifts to amalgamating these aspects – this is software license management.
To start, we need to understand the significance of the Effective License Position (ELP), where software ownership and consumption intersect. To begin, contract discovery is essential. This involves compiling pertinent contract documents to establish accurate license entitlement and usage rights. The goal is to extract an “entitlement position,” a comprehensive list of owned software and corresponding license quantities. Subsequently, the process of “discovery” involves comprehending deployments, consumption patterns, and generating a “consumption position” detailing the licenses consumed and their measurement. The culmination is an (ELP), a comprehensive report contrasting owned licenses with those in use.
Don’t forget or underestimate the role of automation and technology in simplifying the discovery and entitlement reconciliation processes, facilitating real-time reporting for informed business decisions.
In software license management, there are three interrelated realms: Consumed software, Entitled software, and Needed software. The objective is to achieve alignment among these realms for efficient software usage and licensing.
That said, misalignments often occur, it is extremely difficult to have perfect overlap between consumption, entitlement, and necessity. The visual representation in the video of three hypothetical boxes—Consumed, Entitled, and Needed software—effectively illustrates this complex interplay. The overarching goal is to achieve optimal alignment, thereby enhancing cost savings and value generation.
Software Asset Management (SAM) plays the most pivotal role in optimizing these alignments. SAM acts as an interpreter, bridging the gap between stakeholders and facilitating effective software management.
As organizations navigate dynamic IT landscapes and the adoption of cloud and SaaS, the burdensome task of aligning software consumption, entitlement, and necessity finds its solution in the realm of software asset management.
Learn more about our Keys to Successful Software License Management.
Check out our Software License Management Services.
Understanding the Software Asset Lifecycle
Let’s talk about the software asset lifecycle now. The preceding topics have laid the foundation by exploring the importance of SAM, understanding software entitlement, harmonizing it with software discovery, and managing licenses. Now, the spotlight turns to viewing software from a holistic perspective – from inception to termination – and how it integrates with vital organizational processes.
The first phase in the software asset lifecycle is the “Software Request” phase, where stakeholders or end-users identify software needs and follow a request process. This often involves user-friendly portals and standardized software catalogs, simplifying the process. For non-standard software requests, an “Asset Acquisition Committee” evaluates them, considering factors like cost, existing technology, and risk.
The subsequent “Software Approval” phase involves timely and transparent workflows, either automated or involving designated personnel, to review and approve/deny software requests. This phase ensures alignment with budget constraints, organizational goals, security, and licensing requirements.
Next, is the “Software Procurement” phase, where approved software is acquired. This step may involve vendor selection, negotiating terms, and conducting entitlement checks to determine if existing licenses can cover the purchase. Here, software asset management’s role becomes evident in checking for available licenses before proceeding with procurement.
After the “Software Procurement” phase comes the “License Assignment and Deployment” phase. Once acquired, software is assigned to specific users, departments, or devices. This step is crucial for accountability, especially in chargeback models. After assignment, the software is deployed and installed, optimizing efficiency and value generation.
The core of the lifecycle is the “Asset Management” phase. Here, the focus shifts to monitoring and managing the software throughout its life. It involves tracking software movement, user changes, and any compliance-related updates. Effective governance ensures adherence to licensing agreements and optimal resource utilization.
Finally, the “Software Retirement and Disposal” phase marks the end of the lifecycle. When software is no longer in use or reaches its end-of-life, it’s uninstalled and removed from the environment, concluding the software’s lifecycle.
Throughout the lifecycle, the goal is to minimize time to value, enabling users to access software efficiently and discouraging bypassing SAM processes. You can’t achieve this and maintain compliance without continuous governance and tracking.
To go into greater depth check out our Lightning Course, The 6 Phases of the Software Asset Lifecycle.
Characteristics of a Successful SAM Program
Here we want to address the key characteristics that define a successful Software Asset Management (SAM) program. This discussion centers around three critical components: people, process, and technology. It’s so important to align these elements to create a sustainable, efficient, and scalable IT Asset Management (ITAM) program.
Let’s start with the essential role of people, highlighting the need for a knowledgeable team with proper executive sponsorship and an organizational structure conducive to achieving objectives.
Equally vital is the establishment of effective processes, encompassing policies, governance, and alignment with existing business processes to ensure seamless integration.
In addition, the right technology, including software discovery tools and recognition systems, is crucial for efficient management.
Check out the graphic in the video, which illustrates the intricate web of stakeholders that a SAM function interacts with, underscoring the significance of harmonizing efforts across departments. Procurement, security, product owners, cloud management, and executive leadership all play pivotal roles in SAM’s success. To foster collaboration and clarity, a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) chart is recommended, delineating each group’s responsibilities for specific tasks within the SAM framework.
The RACI chart is critical in streamlining SAM efforts, ensuring accountability, and avoiding duplication of tasks. This chart helps overcome challenges stemming from diverse leadership and teams, providing a structured approach to task execution and coordination.
To achieve the greatest success, SAM must function as an integrated entity, aligned with various business functions.
In summary, without alignment among people, process, and technology, a SAM program will never achieve its full potential. Don’t underestimate the significance of collaboration and coordination across departments through tools like the RACI chart.
Learn about how you can create a business case for SAM.
We hope that this Software Asset Management 101 Lightning Course has been helpful to you in your SAM journey. We encourage you to utilize the lessons here to enhance your software asset management practices.
For further guidance or inquiries, please contact us at anglepoint.com or schedule a time to meet with us.