What is Software Asset Management? And why you should care

By Karen Lambrechts [ Join Cybersecurity Insiders ]

By Karen Lambrechts, Lansweeper

So much software, so little oversight!

That may be how many IT departments are feeling lately. According to MarketsAndMarkets, the global Software Asset Management (SAM) market size is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.1% to $4.8 billion by 2026, up from $2 billion in 2021. Gartner also reported that enterprise spending on software is projected to increase by 9.3% in 2023.

The rapid growth of software in the enterprise has been spurred on by several factors:

  • the need for cost optimization
  • the rising demand for effective software license management
  • the increasing risk of software non-compliance.

The problem is, it’s getting tough to manage.

SAM is the process of managing and optimizing the use of software assets within an organization – including the management of software licensing, installations, and usage throughout the entire lifecycle, from acquisition to retirement.

SAM is an important practice for organizations because it helps to ensure compliance with licensing agreements and improve risk management, eliminating legal and financial penalties for non-compliance.

It also helps with decision-making, enabling organizations to realize cost savings by eliminating redundant software licensing, optimizing software usage, and negotiating better licensing agreements with software vendors.

Challenges in Software Asset Management

SAM can be a complex and challenging task for organizations. Some may lack visibility into their software usage, making it difficult to track and manage licenses effectively. Software licenses can be complex and difficult to understand as well, making compliance challenging. Often, organizations – especially smaller ones – lack sufficient staff, expertise and tools for an effective SAM program.

Additionally, the technology landscape is constantly evolving and new software applications are released regularly. This can make it difficult for organizations to perform software usage monitoring and keep up with licensing models and agreements. “Shadow IT” adds to the complexity. Employees may use unauthorized software applications, which can lead to non-compliance with license agreements.

Fortunately, there are best practices to follow to simplify software asset management, as well as a variety of tools that address these challenges and automate the process.

Best Practices for Software Asset Management

Effective Software Asset Management can help organizations to reduce costs, minimize legal risks, and improve operational efficiency. Here are some best practices for SAM:

  • Establish SAM policies and procedures. Develop and communicate clear policies for SAM that define roles and responsibilities, and establish processes for software procurement, deployment, and retirement. The policies should also outline procedures for tracking and managing licenses.
  • Educate employees. Educate employees about SAM policies and procedures, including the importance of complying with license agreements and the risks associated with using unauthorized software.
  • Conduct regular software audits. Regularly audit software usage and licenses to identify instances of over-licensing or under-licensing, and take corrective action as necessary. Additionally, monitor vendors to ensure that they comply with license agreements and provide the necessary support and maintenance.
  • Use SAM tools. Use software tools to automate the SAM process, including software discovery, license tracking and compliance reporting.

Following these best practices for SAM will help to reduce risk and costs, and optimize the use and availability of software across the organization.

Effective SAM is a huge undertaking for most organizations, but having the correct tools that can automate and streamline the process helps to reduce the cost, hassle and risk associated with the process. With these in place, you can reap the benefits of software compliance and optimization. Benefits such as:

  1. Cost savings: SAM helps organizations avoid over and under-licensing, and eliminates unnecessary software purchases. It helps to minimize software costs and reduce overall IT expenditures. Gartner states that an organization can save up to 30% of its software spend in the first year of implementing a SAM program.
  2. Risk management: Optimizing software usage and managing it properly helps to reduce the risk of incurring fines for non-compliance. Vendor audits are faster and easier, because the information vendors need is readily available.
  3. Improved security: SAM helps to identify and manage security risks associated with unlicensed or unauthorized software, reducing the risk of security breaches and data loss.
  4. Better software inventory management: SAM provides a centralized view of an organization’s software assets, making software usage monitoring and management easy, and ensuring that software is up-to-date and secure.
  5. Improved vendor management: SAM improves vendor relationship management, reducing the risk of overpayment and ensuring vendors provide the expected level of service and support.

Make sure you have the right tools that allow you to build a comprehensive IT asset inventory that includes all the software used throughout your organization – along with all hardware, operational technology, IoT, and cloud assets in your environment.

Added Software License Compliance capabilities enable you to track software license keys automatically and create an overview of your software license purchases.

By adopting this approach and following these processes, you will be more confident that you’ll always have the most accurate and complete information for managing your software estate.


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