Software asset management (SAM): What is it and why implement it now?

Software asset management (SAM): What is it and why implement it now?, sam, saham, software and hardware asset management course, training, urm consulting, uk trainers, bcs sam course

This week’s blog looks at software asset management (SAM). URM has been involved in delivering classroom-based training on SAM for 14 years and with a new syllabus being
released by the BCS reflecting current challenges and disciplines, we thought it was the
ideal time to provide our perspective on SAM. In particular, we want to examine some of the compelling reasons (both carrot and stick) why organisations should be focusing on
developing and implementing effective SAM practices.

Let’s start by defining exactly what we mean by SAM. In essence, SAM is the practice and science which enables you to proactively manage your software assets throughout the whole lifecycle, including managing and optimising the purchase, deployment, protection, maintenance, utilisation, and secure disposal of software assets.

A key component of SAM is ensuring your organisation is fully compliant with the legal agreements that are included with the software your company is using.  It also means ensuring that you have implemented effective processes to monitor software usage and to reallocate licences as appropriate.

OK, having defined it, let’s look at why we should be implementing SAM now – what are the ‘carrot’ and ‘stick’ reasons why you should be implementing an effective SAM programme?

The ‘carrot’ reason is a simple one.  IT budgets are increasing, but are always under pressure, and software procurement accounts for between 20 to 30% of these budgets.  Combine the size of spend with the complexity associated with software licencing and the potential cost savings and efficiencies to be gained from effective SAM are significant.

A core benefit of SAM is that you will have a greater insight into how your software is being used (and just as importantly not being used!), thereby avoiding spending on unnecessary licences and utilising/reassigning software licences more effectively. SAM will enable you to identify old or redundant software and establish a plan to remove replace, or upgrade as necessary, rather than paying for software that isn’t being used or paying for it again when an upgrade path is available. 

The 2018 global survey from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) has indicated that organisations can make savings of up to 30% in annual software costs just by implementing a robust SAM programme. So, with software representing 20-30% of the IT budget and 30% savings on offer, the business case for SAM is self-explanatory!

The ‘stick’ reason is fundamentally associated with avoiding the consequences and risks of not managing your software estate effectively.  SAM, first and foremost, helps reduce the vulnerabilities from using outdated software which, in turn, reduces the risk of business continuity issues, data breaches and cybersecurity threats.  Just look, for example, at the risks associated with to the removal of support from Microsoft. This year is a case in point with the support of Windows 7 being removed on 14 January 2020.

An effective SAM programme allows you to identify and remove any unlicensed or illegally used software, thereby minimising legal and financial risks.  One of the most common forms of unlicensed software is, quite simply, not having enough licences or installing more than you have purchased. This is known as under-licensing.  Another common form is installing software more times than the licence permits.

This is an area where the BSA is getting increasingly tough and where ‘whistleblowing’ is not only being encouraged but rewarded. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is just the multi-nationals and large enterprises that the BSA is gunning for, SMEs are regularly being targeted and fined for having unlicensed software.  And don’t forget that it’s not just the fine.  You also have the legal costs, disruption to business operations, cash flow impact (having to make unplanned software purchases) and last, but not least, the reputational damage.  And that doesn’t include the unplanned and possibly uninvited audit that preceded this!

So, in summary, there are compelling reasons for every organisation to have some form of SAM programme in place. If you are looking to gain more of an insight into managing your software, then you will benefit from attending URM’s 3 day BCS Foundation Certificate in Software and Hardware Asset Management training course. And, as the title suggests, the course also covers managing your hardware assets reflecting a more holistic approach to managing your IT assets.