The 2023 Gartner® Magic Quadrant for SAM Managed Services is now available. Get the Report

Hosts: Chris Nielson and Ryan Krueger, Anglepoint Directors of Client Success

This episode of the ITAM Executive was created from Anglepoint’s Software Asset Management (SAM) 101 lightning course.

In this episode, Chris Nielson and Ryan Krueger, both Directors at Anglepoint, give a concise, yet detailed overview of software asset management fundamentals.

Software asset management (SAM) is more than just managing software licenses; it’s a comprehensive practice involving the control, optimization, and utilization of software as an intangible asset. The episode underscores software asset management fundamentals and the role it plays in driving organizational efficiency, cost savings, and improved security and governance.

SAM is also not just about license tracking or a one-time effort; it’s an ongoing process requiring collaboration across various departments like IT, finance, and procurement. It also involves strategic elements like cost optimization, aligning with business goals, and supporting security practices.

This episode concludes with an emphasis on the integration of people, processes, and technology for a sustainable SAM program and invites further engagement on the subject, showcasing Anglepoint’s commitment to fostering advanced software asset management practices.

By listening to this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • Software asset management fundamentals
  • Why software asset management is important and where it fits into an organization
  • People, process, & technology – and why all three matter
  • Stakeholders and the importance of a RACI chart
  • And more

    Episode Transcript

    Chris Nielsen:

    My favorite perhaps is that SAM is not just a tool. Yes, it’s often important to buy a tool and get money for a budget to buy a tool, but if your process is broken and your data is poor, then all of that data and workflow that you flow into a tool that you pay a lot of money for is likely going to come out as garbage just as well.

    And so, SAM is not just a tool.


    The following is an excerpt from an Anglepoint webinar. To watch the entire webinar, please visit

    You’re listening to the ITAM Executive, a podcast for ITAM leaders and practitioners. Make sure to hit subscribe in your favorite podcast player and give us a rating.

    In each episode, we invite seasoned leaders to share their tips on how to define your strategy, promote the value of ITAM in your organization, and align your program with the latest IT trends and industry standards. Let’s dig in.

    Ryan Krueger:

    Welcome to our software asset management 101 lightning course. My name is Ryan Krueger.

    Chris Nielsen:

    And I’m Chris Nielsen.

    Ryan Krueger:

    And Chris and I are both directors here at Anglepoint. Helping organizations build and create sustainable software asset management programs. Really, over the course of these 101 series, we hope to do a little bit of a broader and a deeper dive into key software asset management topics. So, we’re going to be reviewing a few of them.

    One of them is really what is software asset management. The second one will be, why is software asset management important? And then really going into some of the characteristics of a successful SAM program.

    So, let’s go then into, what is SAM, right? Software asset management is a business practice that involves managing, controlling, optimizing the acquisition, the deployment, the maintenance, and the utilization of software within an organization.

    Software asset management, you can think of those three words almost independently, right? Because if you’re to think of what is an asset – an asset is something that has financial value or worth. The difference between perhaps software versus another tangible asset like a building or a car or anything of that nature is that you really can’t see software, right?

    It’s something that’s installed on a server or a computer or it’s something that’s accessed via a web browser, and you can’t hold on to it with your hands and fingers. So, because of that and the fact that it’s an intangible asset, it really requires a proactive approach to making sure that we understand what software as an organization we purchased as well as what we’re using.

    So, from a SAM function, we’re looking at helping organizations effectively monitor their software inventory, ensuring compliance with their software licensing agreements, reducing costs by eliminating unnecessary software, and really minimizing any risks that may come by misusing that software. And then by providing a centralized view of all software assets, SAM enables organizations to make informed decisions, right?

    And those informed decisions really help drive efficiencies, they help drive cost savings, and streamline IT operations. Of the many benefits that SAM has, there’s a few of them, and we want to list just a couple here. So one is that organizations will benefit from having a more proactive approach to license compliance, as well as mitigating risk.

    There’s also a piece of cost optimization and improved IT efficiency. Not to forget about security is that security and data protection is an incredibly important part of an organization and software asset management helps support that function as well. And the last piece around SAM is that it helps improve our overall governance and strategic decision making.

    Chris Nielsen:

    That’s right. So, we’ve talked a lot about what is SAM, let’s dive into what it’s not. It’s often helpful to look at what something isn’t to define it, and so we wanted to go through a few things that you might think is the definition of SAM, but we believe we go, further than that in how we look at SAM.

    So, SAM is not just a license tracking compliance exercise. We don’t want to just look at our software licenses and our entitlements. We also have to dive into what we’re using and how we’re using that software. And so, by the same nature, it’s not just an inventory management. We can’t just look at what’s installed and count applications. We have to know exactly how those applications are used, what their usage patterns are, and understanding the business needs of how that software is deployed.

    It’s also not just a one-time effort. Often, we see companies want to just do one effective license position or do a line-in-the-sand exercise or a static report, and often once you produce those and you show those to leadership, they’re already out of date and stale.

    It’s also not just IT’s responsibility to do SAM, there are so many other organizations with the company that can benefit and help provide input into the SAM process, whether it’s IT finance or procurement. or product management. All of these groups have relevant data points that will be required if you want to have a mature and sustainable SAM program.

    My favorite, perhaps, is that SAM is not just a tool. Yes, it’s often important to buy a tool and get money for a budget to buy a tool, but if your process is broken and your data is poor, then all of that data and information workflow that you flow into a tool that you pay a lot of money for is likely going to come out as garbage just as well. And so, SAM is not just a tool.

    And then finally, it’s not just about saving money. Saving money is important, right? It’s a good way to maybe prove your worth as a SAM program, but often there are other larger goals that can come about building a sustainable SAM program, whether it’s cost optimization, or as Ryan said, having better security practices, knowing exactly what you own so that you can patch it and protect it and then overall governance, understanding what is deployed and how to mitigate risk is a key function of software asset management.

    Ryan Krueger:

    Why is software asset management important? Gartner states that organizations on average can save up to 30% of their software costs by implementing an effective and robust software asset management program.

    Cost savings again. We talked about that cost savings is an incredible driver for effective software asset management. But it doesn’t end there. There are so many other reasons as to why organizations want to invest time and money into building out and executing a sustainable software asset management program.

    To start off with a few of those, the first one is that cost optimization and savings. We talked about earlier how software is an intangible asset. You can’t see it. You can’t touch it. It’s something installed somewhere on some device, in some data center, or on someone’s computer and who knows where.

    And you gotta pay for it.

    And you gotta pay for it, right? So it’s very important, especially with the economy in certain ways, that we are wise stewards of the software investments that we made and that we only really buy the software that we actually need to drive business value from it. And so cost optimization and savings is a huge piece of a sustainable SAM program.

    License compliance and risk mitigation are another one. They go hand in hand, really, because when you’re purchasing software, organizations are agreeing to use the software in certain ways, right? There are restrictions, there’s terms, there’s conditions in the software licensing agreements that organizations agree to. And as such, we need to make sure that we’re, from a legal perspective and from a financial and risk perspective, we’re taking that into account.

    Also, just from an enhanced IT resource management and productivity perspective, we need to make sure that from a sustainable SAM program that we put the right people in the right place doing the right things and that our resourcing is also allocated accordingly, right? That we have people doing value added activities versus the low-level work.

    And from a productivity perspective, obviously software helps drive business value by helping organizations carry out their vision and their business. And so, we really need to make sure that software can get into the hands of people who need it when they need it.

    Prioritized initiatives is another one. So, this is something that we need to make sure that as an organization and a software asset management program, the SAM program’s initiatives align with C-level down, where the company is trying to go.

    And really, we’ve talked about this one as well, but also from enhanced security and data protection, right?

    There’s a couple of things here. There’s a lot of pieces to security, but a couple are that a software asset management program helps organizations, helps information security identify compromised or vulnerable software assets or files. And also, it helps from an asset life cycle of looking at Legacy or perhaps end-of-life or unsupported software, right?

    There’s obvious risk when software is no longer supported by a software publisher. And SAM programs can help identify that. And the last one is business continuity and resilience. It’s really important that we have everything in place that we can continue to execute on the vision of what the organization is trying to achieve.

    Chris Nielsen:

    That’s right. So now let’s look at where SAM typically lives within an organization. We get this question often. So, we want to go through, some of the different areas where SAM fits and how they relate to the different parts of IT.

    So, we have Technology Asset Management. This is the larger picture of all asset management within an organization. And connected to that is the ITSM, or IT Service Management arm. And that’s where your move, add, change, delete function, where your break, fix, where tickets are submitted. All of that links to the assets, and all of those can be recorded inside of the Configuration Management Database, the CMDB.

    And then that, of course, has an overlap with Hardware Asset Management, managing the lifecycle of the servers and computers and network. Then, connected to HAM, is Software Asset Management, and that is where we’re talking about today. That is the large world of software and within software, we have subsets of software as a measure, whether it’s software license management, which is where we’re tracking the assets themselves, the entitlement, or software license compliance, which is, as Ryan said, measuring what we own and measuring it against what we’re consuming or what we’re using. And that world is so important within software asset management.

    Then, on top of all that, which has become so popular. I thought we were already at the end. No, as we get to this, it gets built here, is this group of financial operations, or FinOps, which is this world of the cloud, where everything is in real time, changing from minute to minute.

    And this is a separate world, but very tangentially related to software asset management, as we manage all of those things that are in the cloud, whether it be software or VMs that are running the software on them and understanding where that software is running.

    Then on top of that is this world of technology business management or TBM. And this is really about reporting all this data we talked about to C-level executives or directors that can get information in real-time and no longer have to rely on stale or static reports. So, they can have the data they need to make decisions in a quick fashion.

    Ryan Krueger:

    Now we’re going to review some of the characteristics of a successful SAM program. We can break this down into three key areas of an effective ITAM program. We have people, we have process, and we have technology.

    We need to make sure that we have the right people in place, that they know what they’re going to do, that they have the proper executive sponsorship, and that we’ve aligned the proper organizational structure to get things done.

    We also need to have process in place, right? We need to make sure that we have policies, we have governance, that we’re aligned with whatever our business processes may be, that our SAM function falls in line with that.

    And finally, we need to make sure that we have the right technology. There’s a whole lot of software asset management technology that exists. There’s software discovery tools. We have software purchasing tools. We’ve got Software, what else? Recognition. Software recognition. There’s a lot going on here in terms of the technology space and we need to make sure that we’re adequately equipped to manage that.

    So, for example, if we have technology and we have the process guess what? If we don’t have the people, then we don’t have that the right scalability or efficiency, right? Maybe we don’t have technology, but we have the right people. That’s hard because we can’t automate, right?

    So, we need to make sure that we have all of these perfectly aligned the best we can to create a sustainable and a consistent and scalable ITAM program.

    So, let’s talk a little bit more about the various stakeholders that a SAM function interacts with in an organization. Now, this is an example, but there perhaps are many others that your specific business may have.

    So largely in almost always a software asset management, if it’s going to be worth anything, it’s going to interact and have a good relationship with procurement, right? We’ve talked about software entitlement and why it’s so important. Software procurement is incredibly important input into an effective SAM program.

    Security is also a big one, right? In terms of talking about end-of-life software, other vulnerabilities, or other compromised software, it’s important that SAM and security be aligned.

    We also have individual product owners, right? It could be a SQL server or Oracle database product owner. It could be a desktop application product owner. It could be uh, in the case of cloud, we have cloud centers of excellence, or our cloud management group.

    There are so many different organizations that are affected by software. And as such, it’s important that we can delineate and have an operational team that we have stakeholders involved from each group such that a SAM service can have that kind of the nuts and bolts group, right?

    That’s making things happen. And lastly, but definitely not least, it’s important, as I mentioned earlier, that we have executive sponsorship. And that’s really where we have a cross functional group of senior leadership from an organization. When we say senior, we’re talking about people that can enforce or, create or implement policy or that have final decision-making approval, right? A yes or a no for various things that a software asset management program may be interacting with.

    And so, when we think about all of this and we put them together, the key takeaway here is that software asset management does not work in a vacuum. It is not a disparate or siloed group. It needs to be continually in tune with what is going on with the business from all these different groups.

    Chris Nielsen:

    That’s right. And because you’re working with all these different groups, whether it be procurement or security or product management they all report to different leadership and so it’s it could be difficult to understand who is doing what as you execute on different software asset management tasks.

    And so, the best way we have found to execute together is to create a RACI, or a Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed chart. R A C I, and this chart can have different tasks that the SAM function might be leading or spearheading, but each group would have a different RACI responsibility, basically, to execute there.

    So, we might have someone who’s accountable in one, but then the other groups are maybe consulted or informed about what’s happening with that task. Otherwise, without a chart like this, it’s very difficult to get anything done, we have found. So as an example, provide demand forecast to procurement. Oftentimes, we have found with clients that somehow the SAM service, that falls to them. And they’re, the SAM team, has no idea what is going to be demanded by the business future, yeah. Right?

    And we know how software is licensed. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. That should come from product management or enterprise architecture. Or the strategy who’s determining what the go forward business is. And so they would be, accountable for that one. Also, we’ve got, maintain complete and accurate entitlement records.

    Sometimes this is a sticking point. Is that procurement? Or is that SAM? It depends on your organization. And so, coming up with this RACI chart can go a long way in building this organizational team. And having them work together and coordinate to accomplish great value for the SAM program.

    So, with that, we thank you so much for attending this and if you have any questions on this or anything in the future, please reach out to us at Thank you.

     If you’re interested in learning more about Chris or Ryan, connect with them on LinkedIn.

    Listen in on our latest podcasts by checking out the ITAM Executive.

    Dig into more insights from ITAM executives by subscribing on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.