Many IT organizations think it’s too difficult to take on software asset management (SAM), also called software license management (SLM). They think that it’s too expensive to do (especially when they assume an expensive SAM technology is required), is people intensive, and/or is hard to justify on an ongoing basis.
I’m here to tell you that this is completely not the case. With the investment in SAM, if done correctly, the potential to save money and time, and to reduce risk, far outweighs the drawbacks.
SAM capabilities are often sold to organizations based on fear – the fear of fines, reputational damage, and even prison time for company directors. But, while these are valid risks, and fears, SAM is not just about ensuring software license compliance. SAM is also about ensuring the effective financial stewardship of the software asset estate.
Thus, SAM can also help you to reduce costs – by ensuring that the correct amount is spent on software assets (as well as with license reuse) – along with mitigating risks, all in the process of keeping your software asset environment under control.
And SAM also doesn’t have to be a big, upfront expenditure. Instead, organizations can start at a pace that suits their capabilities and pockets.
So, with this in mind, I’d like to offer these eight tips for upping your organization’s SAM game and software compliance.
1. Understand the Required SAM “Ecosystem”
Many people make the mistake of thinking that a new SAM tool will fix all their software license management issues. But SAM isn’t just about investing huge sums in a tool. Instead, it’s more about having the right people and processes in place. Ultimately, you can have all the expensive SAM tools in the world but, without the right knowledge, checks, and governance, the financial and legal risks associated with being under-licensed will still exist.
So before starting anything, work out – based on your required SAM capabilities over time – what is needed in terms of people, process, and technology, plus how this will change over time.
2. Start with Your Biggest Area of Exposure
As with IT asset management (ITAM) per se, don’t try to fix everything at once because you’ll end up doing one or more of the following:
– Spreading your attention and resources too thinly
– Starting and not completing
– Doing many things poorly rather than one thing well
– Finding and having to deal with multiple roadblocks all at once
– Running out of steam
Start with your biggest areas of risk and cost – the software that’s used across the organization by many people. For example, software products from IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Adobe, or Oracle. You will probably also find that, the harder it is to ensure compliance with a particular vendor’s products, the more chance there is that they will be keen to audit customers.
You can always expand out over time, but the key thing about getting started with SAM is to deal with the riskiest areas first so that you reduce any potential adverse impact further down the line.
3. Understand What a License Is
The answer is, it depends. There’s a lot of confusion about what constitutes proof of license but the reality is – different vendors will require different things when it comes to licensing evidence.
Don’t believe me? Here is a list of just some of the things that can be considered a license by different software vendors:
– The software in its packaging
– The master copy of the software itself on the master media
– Distribution copies of software on the freestanding media or servers
– Installed operational instances of the software
– Software pass codes or license keys
– Software maintenance authorization codes
– Paper-based or digital software license certificates
– License terms and conditions
– Support contracts
– Upgrade components
– Software release documentation
The bottom line? When purchasing software, get written confirmation from the vendor as to what constitutes agreed proof of license.