Software usage is continuously changing and adapting as a result of organizations’ growth.
Software usage is continuously changing and adapting as a result of organizations’ growth and evolution. Combine this with the complex technology involved, complicated license agreements and the looming menace of license audits. The result is a perfect recipe for unpleasant surprises for companies, revealing themselves in either incompliancy issues or overspending in IT budgets. Finally, many organizations are not fully aware of the software that they are entitled to use. Often this is a result of changes in software products or terms and conditions or, once again, organizational evolutions.
Software Asset Management (SAM), according to ITIL is “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”*. Some guidelines on this topic widely available on the web are very interesting and provide a clear business rationale for SAM. I would like to focus on the question:
What are the benefits of investing in Software Asset Management?
Be compliant and mitigate risks
SAM helps organizations to be prepared for license audits. Monitoring license utilization by performing an on-going reconciliation and follow up on discrepancies, , will help organizations to be compliant at all times. In an audit scenario, awareness on license positions alone, already greatly relieves the IT department of the additional effort of providing the auditors with the required information. Being compliant also reduces legal and financial exposure and helps to avoid damage in reputation related to uncontrolled software usage and spending misuse.
Optimize your costs and ROI
Awareness of the delta between software- entitlement and usage and reallocation of unused licenses (when the hardware is decommissioned, for instance) may also turn into high cost-savings. This is especially valuable for organizations with de-centralized IT, since the main IT department usually is not fully aware of what software is used, or on the other hand, what software is on the shelf at local level.
Tracking software de-installations draws the attention to valid and non-used licenses; instead of buying new ones, those can be re-harvested to cover current usage (e.g. Microsoft Office licenses not used for more than 90 days). This awareness places organizations in a stronger position in audits and in software purchase negotiations with vendors.
Improve systems security
Security threats are always around the corner, especially if unauthorized, old or unsupported software (e.g. Windows XP) is used. The ability to control the IT environment, by gaining insight in software installations, enables an organization to prevent pirated software downloads, and lower systems vulnerability too. Being aware about what is deployed helps understand what could represent a security risk in the organization.
SAM tools, gain better insight of software usage
Obviously, implementing SAM tools and making inventory of the entire network will return better insight into software usage. Tracking software is not easy, especially if we consider that determining the number of licenses required is strongly connected to complex software licensing models. For this reason SAM tools will provide a first step to ensure better software monitoring, which in turn can act as an early warning system in spotting software over-usage or over-licensing.
“The ability to strategically turn software spending into a valuable investment will eventually place companies in an advantageous position in their market.”
Have your SAM program work for you!
Many companies we have worked with, recognize the need to develop or improve on SAM. These programs should be specifically aimed to optimize IT investments and reduce operational, security, financial and legal risks connected to software asset ownership and usage. An important aspect of achieving these goals is by using a tool that is capable of monitoring software usage. Implementing a SAM tool however, is not the entire picture. It should be part of a broader SAM program and an on-going plan, regularly updated according to the changing needs of an organization.
Once an initial view of software usage is obtained, it is important to understand that relevant policies and procedure exist and are executed. In addition, setting and communicating responsibilities and outlining permissions to all staff members involved, is crucial to have your SAM project succeed. If managed correctly, SAM will lead to risk reduction and greater return on investment. The ability to strategically turn software spending into a valuable investment will eventually place companies in an advantageous position in their market.
Author: Valeria Trerè, senior consultant at KPMG
* ITIL v3 Guide to Software Asset Management