It’s Time to Take Control of Your Assets (Software, That Is)

by CDW Financial Services|Dec 27, 2016

CDW Software Asset Management Specialist Sandy Marguerite has worked with licensing programs for 11 years. She shares her insight and best practices for taking control of your software assets.

Q. Why is software asset management so important?

Establishing a software management program (SAM) is beneficial for many reasons:

  1. Software licensing is becoming increasingly complex as technology advances.
  2. Publishers large and small are increasing audits to ensure contract compliance.
  3. Limited IT staff makes it challenging to stay on top of the many issues related to SAM.
  4. Ultimately, a SAM program can help companies easily reduce costs and mitigate risk — and even provide ROI.

According to Gartner, software license optimization can reduce software costs by 30%.1

Q. What are some best practices for establishing and optimizing a SAM program?

An efficient and cost-effective SAM program can be built on these four pillars:

  1. Establish a management process and guidelines. The process must have support and buy-in from the C-suite. It should at the minimum include internal processes, approved software products, and reseller guidelines and restrictions. All departments should be aware of these guidelines, especially H/R, to address onboarding, off boarding and procurement.
  1. Knowledge is power. The most important action for any organization, no matter the size, is gaining visibility of your assets. To establish an effective management program, you need to know where those assets are being deployed, who is using them and how often the software is being used. Also, you need to know how the organization is configured. Without that visibility, you could be exposing your financial services firm to great risk.

Using an inventory or discovery tool is really the only way you can get an accurate visual of what is actually being run in the organization. Depending on the level of sophistication, these tools can identify not just the software that is running on each desktop by publisher, but can also determine the details of the product — for example, if it is part of a bundle or an upgrade — as well as the version and platform. The more sophisticated tools can help with identifying opportunity for compliance and cost savings.

  1. Licensing. Licensing today is complex. We are quickly moving to the cloud, mobility and increased virtualization. There are different programs for each publisher and your IT staff simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to know each program and stay on top of all the changes. If an enterprise discovery tool is implemented, the tool has the intelligence built in to know those changes. You must start by knowing how the software is being deployed and all the information about the hardware it is deployed on. With the increase in virtualization, it is important to understand if software is being deployed on a physical machine or virtual machine. This information is the key to purchasing the right software for your configuration in your organization. That determination can only be made if you have both hardware and software visibility.

One of the areas beyond compliance is how can you become more strategic and how your organization can save money on its software spend. Having that view into the organization allows you to be more strategic, whether in the best utilization of your existing spend or in your upcoming software spend.

Additionally, by re-harvesting licensing with the information from metering and usage, you can see the amount of time users are actually using a license that is deployed on their machines. Passing that license from User A and to User B can save the company from buying licenses that are not really being used.

  1. Contract management. Staying on top of contract renewal dates is critical and expensive if it is not done within the contracted timeframe. Being able to sync renewals six to 12 months ahead of time will help with budgeting and alert your finance department of upcoming expenses.

Q. What’s the best advice you can offer financial services firms regarding SAM?

Financial services firms have invested large sums of money in software, yet very few have those assets under control. Why put that at risk? Why put that risk in the hands of the publisher? My best advice is to be proactive and take action now. The cost savings (approximately 20% to 30%) and improved risk mitigation are well worth the time and effort.

Source: 1gartner.com, “Cut Software Spending Safely with SAM,” March 2016

This article first appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of FINTALK Report.