Software Asset Management: What you really need to know

March 1, 2021


SAM software lifecycle

Software costs can typically consume around 34% of IT spend.  Is your organisation managing its IT assets and licensing as effectively as it could be?

The term Software Asset Management (SAM) refers to management of the entire software lifecycle. That means all the elements involved, including people, processes and technology. It looks at three main areas (reduction in cost, reduction in risk, and optimisation) to identify savings, but it can also protect your business from licensing infringement fines. Read on to find out why your company should take SAM seriously, or if you’re in a hurry contact us to speak to a SAM specialist.

What are the benefits of Software Asset Management?

Figures from Gartner suggest that there are 10-30% savings to be made annually once a mature SAM programme is in place. (The figure quoted is up to 30% for on-premises software, but moving into the age of Software as a Service platform, ROI can increase as there is much better yield for optimisation.)

Aside from the cost savings, there is the chance to cut the risk of hefty fines – some software vendors rely on audits for a large part of their revenue. We have also seen that when a customer is audited by one vendor, they are more likely to be audited by others as well.

The time it takes to handle a vendor audit can be significant. It’s likely to be months, rather than days. To give an example, there are instances of Microsoft engagements taking as long as 18 months. A Software Asset Management programme, putting a process in place where you are monitoring and managing assets, makes those interactions a lot less costly. That’s in terms of both time and the potential penalties resulting from unexpected reviews.

There’s also an element of avoiding risk to your reputation. Getting caught in breach of a software agreement doesn’t make an organisation look good, but effective SAM can help prevent this scenario.

Another point is around optimisation, i.e., making sure your business is not paying for something it isn’t using. A recent UK survey suggests that a typical Microsoft 365 environment is over licensed by up to 20%.

What are the challenges to consider with SAM?

One of the major issue’s organisations experience is that they often don’t have the in-house capacity and resources to look after SAM by themselves. Software licensing is ever-changing. The licensing rules that were pertinent yesterday might not be the same today, or next month.

In this ever-evolving context, you need a resource that is skilled up around licensing to help you keep up-to-date. If this is too much for an in-house resource, an experienced and knowledgeable third-party such as Q Associates can help ease the pressure.

Speak to a SAM specialist – book a free consultation

Many organisations are not on top of which assets they’ve purchased or deployed, or they may have misunderstood the terms of how they agreed to deploy the software. This can add up to a big challenge if you are a large, global organisation, but smaller firms can just as easily be affected. (For small firms, a huge licensing shortfall or fine could feel like a crippling debt.)

As well as dealing with your current situation, you will also need to understand exactly what you require in your next software contract. This goes hand in hand with gaining visibility (one of the major aspects
Q Associates can help with).

Many customers don’t realise that their contract entitles software vendors to carry out audits. Nor do they know that their contracts are negotiable, or that they may be able to re-sell licences they’re not using. Effective SAM also gives you better negotiating power once you know what is possible and what your actual requirements are. It empowers you to act from a position of knowledge, rather than one of fear (of not knowing what software you’re using, if you still need it and whether you’re in a position to stop spending so much on it).

Software Asset Management services: How Q Associates can help

SAM services

Q Associates is an independent provider of specialist IT services. We don’t sell licences and don’t have an alliance to any particular tool, vendor or manufacturer. We offer unbiased advice aimed at solving your business challenges.

We have several flexible options for Software Asset Management services on offer. These range from helping you select technology all the way to providing training for your staff. We’ve also designed a SAM Health Check to meet the needs of the current economic climate; we know that budgets may be stretched and you may have many other things on your plate, including working from home or not having access to your sites.

Our SAM Health Check is a quick, low-impact, high-level and low-cost review to help you see where you’re at with SAM and what your top priorities should be. It takes 2 to 4 days and examines your policies and procedures, taking a high-level look at data to highlight any big gaps. We then report back, scoring what’s going well or not so well, identifying both essential next steps and nice-to-haves.

The Health Check is a very useful way of finding out what’s happening within your infrastructure and what needs improving. It’s also a good way to get business buy-in if you need to persuade stakeholders of the importance of SAM; it can identify ways to make savings, while showing where further ROI might be achieved.

If you are looking for more in-depth help, our Baseline Assessment takes a deeper dive into your data and explores where you are under- and over-licenced, or where licence structures could be better optimised.

The next step up is a SAM Managed Service tailored to your organisation’s needs, for example an annual service including a Baseline, assessing software from particular vendors, and reviewing policies, processes and documentation.

It’s worth noting that, after the initial pause for Covid-19, we are starting to see an increase in vendor audits once again. Our advice is to seek out SAM services first, rather than getting caught by surprise. Looking after SAM is a small price to pay for good potential ROI, while peace of mind is pretty much priceless!

Software estate

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Contact Q Associates today if you have any questions or would like to discuss your IT requirements in more detail.

Tel: 01635 248181

Donna Robinson

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