What you need to know about Software Asset Management

Software asset management

From simple word processors to complex CRM systems, businesses are increasingly dependent on software. In fact, experts predict software spending in Australia will reach $12.7 billion by the end of 2018 and grow up to $14.2 billion in 2019

Despite this, many companies don’t keep track of the software they maintain largely because making a list of all the software employees have access to is tedious work; especially if they’re doing it manually.

With the right asset plan, processes and tools your business can be at the forefront of this important management process.  Failing to track your software assets or licence them properly, can lead to massive penalties, security and compliance risks.

What is Software Asset Management? 

Software Asset Management (SAM) refers to policies and processes that help manage, control and protect software assets throughout all stages of the software life cycle.

A good SAM methodology typically covers software procurement, maintenance, usage, disposal, and licensing; whilst providing the infrastructure necessary for effective management.

Avoid unnecessary costs

Ensure your IT budget is not wasted on software that isn’t used.  Gartner estimates that software spending can be cut by as much as 30% with the right plan.  A detailed inventory of your software procurement will help your business avoid risk and identify cost-cutting opportunities.

Employee’s under-utilising their software can reallocate it to someone who will use it; instead of purchasing a new set of software apps for each new hire.

You can reduce costs even further by scaling back on your subscriptions. If you’ve subscribed to the enterprise version of Office 365 but no one in your team uses any of the analytics and VoIP features; switching to the less expensive Office 365 Business version may save you an appreciable amount over the long term.

Take advantage of deals

Apart from saving you from unnecessary costs; software asset management also helps you save when it’s time to renew your software licenses. So instead of buying licenses on a per-PC basis each time one of them has their license expire; you’ll have a big-picture view that tells you exactly how many you need and you’ll save money by buying in bulk. If you’ve partnered with a trustworthy software provider for a long time; they may even offer large discounts for volume licensing.

Streamline licensing compliance

Software licencing agreements are breached if software is illegally copied, modified, or distributed without permission from the developer.  An employee that accidently shares software copies with co-workers is making your business non-compliant.   Most business apps come with agreements that state how and for how long software should be used.   By not having an asset management program in place, companies risk non-compliance.

Software asset management helps you track your software licences and avoid the penalties and legal costs associated with non-compliance. By keeping a database of all your software licenses; you’ll know how every license is being used, and by whom, and when you need to renew them. You can even track how apps are being used across your entire company in real time; allowing you to enforce best practices and address potential licensing risks quickly and efficiently.

Reduce security risks

When defending against the latest cyber-attacks; software asset management is just as vital as having strong firewalls and threat prevention tools. Your SAM plan can help prevent unauthorised or rogue software from being installed on devices and keep track of which Apps need an update and when.

SAM maintains a catalogue of all authorised software and their patch versions; so you’ll have an easier time making sure all programs are fully up to date. With the right software asset management tools in place; a simple search query will help you find old, vulnerable versions of software on your network; and patch them with just a few clicks of the mouse.

How to implement Software Asset Management at your organisation

  1. Software Inventory – Catalogue all business software and their developers, patches, and service packs.  Automate your asset management with tools like Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP).  These tools keep a detailed inventory of all software installed on every server, PC and mobile device of your business. Manual inventory only consumes time, leading to errors.
  2. Review software usage – To identify over or under-utilised assets; consider conducting a survey across your company to find out which apps employees use. Monitoring tools should also be installed on their devices to evaluate whether apps are used safely.
  3. Reconcile licenses – In this stage, you must track down all purchasing records; complete with manufacturer name, date of purchase, and invoice number; for all your software and store them in a centralised database. Then ask a managed services provider to perform a license reconciliation analysis. If done right, you should get a clear idea of your software spending; and if there are any non-compliant licensing issues that need to be addressed.
  4. Draft and communicate policies – After the reconciliation analysis, define software asset management best practices for your company. For employees, this should cover things like which apps are allowed on their desktops; how to safely use them, and the penalties for not complying with company policies. At the same time; administrators should have a set of policies that govern how often they should implement your SAM procedures.
  5. Commit to ongoing software asset management processes – SAM requires constant attention, so after you’ve established your strategy; you’ll need to monitor the usage of your assets and take note of the technology needs and trends among your employees. You’ll also need to commit to monthly inventory and license management procedures; to ensure your software assets are being handled correctly.

An investment in the right software management technology will help you choose the right software, keep you compliant and safeguard the integrity of your business.  Whether you are finding it difficult to implement a policy or do not know where to start; Empower IT will give you a head start on building the right software asset management strategy.