Companies decide to develop software asset management (SAM) programs for different reasons. The specific reasons for introducing a SAM program in your organization can have a profound impact on how you design it. Before you get started, it’s worth taking stock of your key drivers so that you can design a program that will successfully meet your specific needs.

There are three overarching reasons that drive most companies’ decision to implement a SAM program: market demands, compliance issues, and budgetary pressures.

Market demands

Some industries, such as government organizations or government contractors, require companies to demonstrate oversight of IT assets throughout their lifecycle. For example, the new Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FINTARA) in the United States requires both an operational aspect to the software asset lifecycle and an oversight function. This means that organizations wishing to comply with FINTARA need to have a SAM program that shows financial accountability when acquiring IT assets.

As well, there are other market standards that may not specifically demand a SAM program, but that benefit enormously from having one. For example, when implementing the NIST-800 53 standard, a mature SAM program can jumpstart IT controls. For SAM experts, these scenarios are tricky if organizations want to have the veneer of certification, but aren’t committed to changing the way the organization conducts IT business.

If meeting external requirements is your company’s primary reason for implementing a SAM program, the best approach is to read the literature for the certification you need, and just focus on what’s needed to meet their requirements. This isn’t necessarily a full SAM solution, but can mature the SAM practice to some degree. You can explore further maturation when your organization develops the political will to change the way it provides IT services.

Compliance issues

Publishers need to be confident that companies are compensating them correctly, and companies have a responsibility to abide by the legal framework of the licenses they use. That’s where publisher audits ad compliance issues come into play. Often, companies have the unfortunate experience of going through a formal audit by a vendor, with less than optimal results. This is the starting point for many SAM programs, and can actually be a good one if you position it correctly. Alternatively, some organizations acknowledge that they might have compliance issues, and they initiate a SAM program in hopes of avoiding future publisher audits.

When bad audits happen, management’s direction is typically, “never let this happen again.” You can use this to your advantage, because the honest truth is that a poor audit begets more audits. Implementing a SAM program can be the first step toward avoiding future audit letters and fines, and should be thought of as risk mitigation to keep your organization healthy. A sub-optimal audit can provide the internal political support you need to drive IT value in the form of a proper SAM program.

Budgetary pressures

We have previously talked about the budgetary benefits of implementing a SAM program. To recap, when IT departments are facing budget pressures, this is a prime area to look for ways to optimize spending. A robust SAM program can identify under-utilized applications that might be costing the organization needless expense, leading to significant savings. In fact, in Beaconize’s experience, organizations can save between 15 and 25 per cent of their IT budget by implementing a proper SAM program.

All of the above

Of course, there are other reasons why companies proactively manage their software assets. Professional desire on the part of the IT team, leadership from the executive team, or some combination of the above — these are all valid reasons to move forward. By understanding your company’s primary drivers, you can garner support from the right places, and develop a program that meets your definition of success.