20 things every CIO needs to know about Software Asset Management

20 things every CIO needs to know about Software Asset Management

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If you buy software you need a license but the options can be confusing

Implementing an effective IT asset management strategy within the enterprise is important. Failure to accurately measure software usage can either mean millions wasted through over provisioning or fines for not having the right licenses. It therefore pays dividends to the CIO if he or she knows a few things about software asset management.

1 – Why is it important?

Software asset management (SAM) is vital to an organisation as it makes sure your house is in order. Also, it is illegal to use unlicensed software and could end up with material financial penalties if your organisation falls short in terms of licensing requirements.

2 – You need the right tools

Your organisation will have to invest in tool systems capable of logging various types of licenses against their respective technologies and owners. An auditor tool needs to be run over the network to identify deployed licenses across all systems. An asset inventory tool must keep a tally of all systems in the organisation.

3 – You need the right people and processes

The tools alone won’t manage software assets. Dedicated and experienced license and compliance managers who understand the complexity of the publisher agreements and how your usage and user access profile data outputs can best be aligned with the optimum licensing agreements for your enterprise, along with well-defined processes, will ensure compliance and enhanced ROI. Without the right people, you could be risking the time and money invested across your technology estate.

4 – Take responsibility

Successful projects start with people, then processes then technology. Software asset management touches all parts of the organisation so you must have a leader with executive sponsorship and support to bring people, process and technology together into the project.

Software Asset Management is a complex area and requires specialist skills. Ensure you have the right skill sets within your team. If you do not, partner with a credible SAM Partner like Crayon who will be able to remove most of the complexity so you and your team can concentrate on running your business rather than worrying about your technology.

5 – Start off with an accurate baseline

If the numbers aren’t right from the beginning, they will never be right. Make sure your whole inventory is properly catalogued and assets that are no longer part of the company are removed.

6 – Define what the process needs

Organisations have a propensity to hurry into the inventory and software implementation facets of asset management before taking the time to adequately ascertain aims and needs. Software asset management’s measures of accomplishment should be plainly defined and decided upon with senior management and stakeholders prior to execution.

7 – You need to streamline your hardware as well as your software

When managing assets you need to have both the correct software and hardware. Hardware is just as important to your software asset management system and will improve overall tracking.

8 – Always prepare for vendor audits

The surprise audit is one way for vendors to eradicate the illegal use of software. The CIO must ensure that regular audit simulations are undertaken using appropriate software license management tools.

9 – Make sure software purchases are in line with support and contracts

Software asset management makes sure that underused software doesn’t waste precious budgets. Not only will this help in finding out what licenses an organisation has but also how often they are used. These tools can free up software and help in price negotiations.

10 – Mechanise the process

Manual tools to track software assets make for a time-consuming process. Automating this process can save time and makes sure you know what is being used where as well as being able to forecast future software budgets.

11 – Be supportive of software asset management programmes

Software asset management requires focus and investment, your support as CIO is crucial to its success.

12 – Start small, scale up

Many projects can fail if expectations are high and the work is too much at the beginning. Implementing software asset management in realistic phases helps to build its credibility and moves you closer to your goals.

13 – Asset lifecycles should be investigated

When you have defined your needs and constraints, you need to investigate your assets lifecycle and log data at each stage of each asset’s lifecycle. Time and energy are needed to define data elements, which must be logged, and the data flow through each asset’s life.

14 – Deploy software asset management process auditing and evaluation procedures

These processes require control and constant monitoring to ensure staff, departments and stakeholders are following procedures correctly. Without this, the process can quickly go wrong.

15 – Allow for errors and the ability to correct them

A successful software asset management process relies on accurate data. Departures from procedures and unpredicted events can cause blunders. If any errors creep in, these need to be dealt with quickly. Mechanisms for investigating and amending mistakes are needed.

16 – Review the process at regular periods

A software asset management process needs recurring appraisals to make sure objectives and benefits are achieved. Doing this once a quarter is recommended so achievement can be measured and glitches amended.

17 – Money talks

All assets have value so integrate software asset management with IT financial management to coordinate and gain buy in from other parts of the organisation. Communicate costs regularly through chargeback invoices and use financial management to manage needs and push a cost-conscious philosophy.

18 – Don’t forget the cloud

Software asset management is not only about what’s installed on computers and servers within the network. Virtualised and cloud-based resources can contain software assets as well. These will also follow an asset lifecycle of plan, procure, deploy, manage and retire. To skirt spreading resources and unexpected overheads, these must also be regarded as assets that need lifecycle tracking and financial management.

19 – Centralise your asset management

There is no point in managing software assets with spreadsheets dotted around the company on numerous servers, desktops and SharePoint; this is ineffective. The CIO should ensure that there is a central software asset repository and one source of data for the organisation in order to keep track and ensure records stay current.

20 – Publicise your accomplishments

The value of your software asset management process needs to be exhibited to the rest of the organisation, especially important stakeholders. Sharing this data will help in receiving ongoing support from other areas of the organisation.




I am the Group Chief Marketing Officer at Crayon. My team are focused on driving enhanced lead generation campaigns and nurturing for our sales organisations across multiple geographies though the utilisation and coordination of all online and offline communication channels. We are driving increased brand awareness in the business's core competency areas of Software Asset Management (SAM), cloud and volume licensing solutions and associated consultancy services. I have over 20 years of senior business leadership experience within direct marketing/direct sales and mass distribution businesses, in both the B2B and B2C markets serving on the boards of both private and public multinational corporations.


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