Today, Software Asset Management (SAM) is more important than ever. This is because organizations are using more software than ever before. New tools are constantly being developed to assist with a myriad of business functions, from marketing, to sales, to HR. For this reason, software is no longer something that is thought to only impact, or be the responsibility, of the IT team.

With the influx of so many new tools, organizations need to ensure that they have a software asset management plan in place to maintain compliance and monitor spend and use. Implementing a SAM plan takes time and buy-in from stakeholders across departments. Even so, effective SAM can still evade organizations if they don’t follow software asset management best practices to avoid today’s common SAM mistakes.

As organizations develop strategies to keep up with modern software use, here are the SAM best practices they must keep in mind and the mistakes they must avoid.

Mistakes that Challenge SAM

For SAM to work effectively and minimize organizational risks of an audit, organizations must be aware of these mistakes that can lead to inaccurate data, delegitimizing the entire program.

  • Shadow IT – Be Aware – A recent study shows that 90 percent of CIOs are not consulted when solutions are purchased, and 31 percent are bypassed regularly. This results in shadow IT, or IT solutions being used within an organization without going through proper procurement or vetting channels. IT teams must be aware of shadow IT and have a strategy to account for it to ensure they consistently have an accurate representation of the solutions in use.
  • Not Accounting for Distributed Environments – Today, organizations are running programs in on-premises data centers and in the cloud. To get an accurate view of entitlements, inventory, and consumption, SAM teams need to ensure they are able to aggregate and normalize on-premises and cloud data in a centralized way. SoftwareONE’s proprietary platform PyraCloud also helps in this process.
  • Trying to Automate the SAM Process – With so many SAM tools available to perform asset discovery and data correlation, many organizations are under the impression that they can automate the SAM process. However, simply deploying a SAM tool will not result in compliance and can lead to a false sense of security that there is no risk of audit. SAM requires regular maintenance and monitoring from an experienced team.

Software Asset Management Best Practices

With these three common challenges in mind, here are five software asset management best practices that organizations should incorporate into their SAM strategies to ensure success.

  • Aggregate On-premises and Cloud Data – Accurate data is the foundation of a successful SAM program. With so many organizations running solutions in both on-premises data centers and in the cloud, having accurate data means cross-referencing licenses, entitlements, and usage across these distributed hybrid environments and normalizing this data to ensure visibility into all programs being run on the corporate network. To aggregate this data effectively, organizations must spend time when selecting a SAM tool to ensure it aligns with business goals pertaining to hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
  • Centralize SAM Data – Once your SAM program is up and running, it is important to establish one central repository that will house all information on licensing, entitlements, inventory, and consumption for on-premises and cloud software. This will ensure that all stakeholders have access to the consistent data, with no one accidentally referencing an outdated log when making purchasing or license renewal decisions.
  • Develop and Enforce Procurement Policies – To combat the effects of shadow IT, organizations must establish and enforce procurement policies that enable departments to get the solutions they need, while ensuring they go through the proper channels to record licenses and review security features. This will require a close partnership between the CIO and the Chief Procurement Officer (CPO). Together, these leaders will establish policies to ensure new purchases are aligned with the overall business needs and will be managed throughout the entire software lifecycle. They will then work with stakeholders across each line of business to maintain up-to-date licensing information and minimize overlaps in the capabilities of new and existing solutions.
  • Don’t Rely on a Tool Alone – Deploying a SAM tool on its own will not automatically make your organization compliant. While these tools are a necessary part of asset discovery and data aggregation, they require regular maintenance from a team that understands licensing nuances, is able to remediate gaps in software recognition, and troubleshoot issues within the tool. Relying on a tool alone can often result in inaccurate data, making organizations unprepared for an audit.
  • Build a SAM Team with Expertise and Experience – The most important component of a successful SAM program is having an experienced team that can make sense of all of the data accrued during discovery. To this end, organizations must ensure they have a team with a background in the licensing models of the top publishers, such as Microsoft and Oracle. These team members will be integral in verifying entitlements (a process which cannot be automated), managing historical entitlements, and detecting data integrity issues.

Final Thoughts

As organizations adopt an increasing amount of software across hybrid and multi-cloud environments, effective software asset management will be integral to maintaining governance and compliance. Keeping these SAM best practices in mind will ensure a successful SAM program that goes beyond mature to be predictive, providing insight into approaching business needs, and ultimately giving way to a comprehensive cost saving plan.