No matter what industry you’re in: retail, agriculture, health, construction, or finance, they all depend upon software to make the job easier, faster, and more accurate.
At some point, software became a double-edged sword: both helpful and necessary, but also burdensome – and even painful. As the software license agreements pile up, the vendor audits become more aggressive, and your company’s budget for software is harder to keep to, software asset management is more important than ever.
Software asset management (SAM) definition:
Software asset management is a business practice that takes ownership of software usage by monitoring: spend, deployment, software licenses, and license compliance for all end-users involved in the application.
When your business is centered around a software asset management strategy, you’ll have the right tools and processes in place to make better software licensing decisions that not only boost your team’s productivity but also lower costs.
In order to see success with a SAM strategy, there are three key areas to pay attention to:
Software licenses: All of your software licenses need to be unmanaged, so you can keep track of the specific conditions, like renewal dates and compliance terms and specifications. At its core, SAM is all about keeping your business compliant as software vendors don’t want you using more of their software than you purchased, or licensed.
Software audits: Vendors often carry out software compliance audits to be sure your team is using the specific application correctly. If you’re not compliant, excerpt a fee or penalty to come your way.
Software optimization: When you make the most of your tech stack, ensuring every application is being utilized correctly, you’re not paying for too many seats, and you’re passing all of your audits, you can be sure your money is being spent in the most efficient manner.
How to get started with software asset management at your business
Software asset management is an enormous undertaking for any business. Tracking how much software exists within a company, which employees use it, what the contract dictates, whether the company is compliant, when renewals take place, and how much is being spent on software is exhausting. It is bound to become nearly impossible in a complex enterprise company.
Luckily, there’s software to manage your software – G2 Track automates all of the above, making finding an asset management solution easier than ever before.
What is the purpose of SAM? The goals of software asset management are to:
Automate software discovery
Minimize software spend
Keep compliant with contracts and vendors to avoid any compliance risks and control costs
Ensure software is a benefit, not a detriment, to the company
Have a better understanding of your software licenses
Take control of IT asset management
There are three main pillars of software asset management that make it all possible: software license management, software vendor management, and SaaS spend management.
Software license management
Does anyone actually read the fine print of the software licenses when installing something onto their computer? They are lengthy, complex, and riddled with legal language. In order to understand, you’d need to have a solid knowledge of both law and computer science, which most people do not.
Now imagine being responsible for not one difficult-to-understand contract, but a hundred. In a large organization, this is reality. How do you manage all of those licenses at once? That’s where software license management comes in, which is the process of documenting, reducing, and managing the cost of all of your applications.
When it comes to SAM tools and implementing a software license management solution, spreadsheets are not the answer. They are time-consuming and prone to human error, no matter who creates them. There are far too many metrics and renewals to keep on-top-of in order to remain compliant with the contract.
Not only that, but with SaaS, on-premise, and cloud-based software infiltrating the workplace, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to track how many software licenses are truly under one company’s roof. Software that can be purchased without the express approval of the IT service management department or organization is called shadow IT because of how difficult it is for IT management to trace.
When you utilize a SaaS system of record like G2 Track, it can assist in standardizing the entire process, identifying how you're using every application in your tech stack, and identify new opportunities for contract integration.
Software and SaaS vendor management is the strategy of finding the best solutions to fix problems within a business and then introducing those solutions across the entire organization. This is done by managing application use, improving spend, and reporting on value. It also includes remaining compliant and maintaining positive relationships with the software vendors and asset managers themselves.
Deciding on which solution your business needs involves thorough research while keeping your company goals in mind. It’s a good idea to utilize a company like G2, which provides the opportunity to learn from your peers’ unbiased reviews on what software solutions worked best for their business.
Once you’ve decided on a solution, purchased, and rolled it out in real time, it becomes a matter of staying compliant. Vendors run audits to discover whether your company has been adhering to the license contract you agreed to. These audits check how your employees are using the software, who is using it, and if your license covers everything you’ve done with it. If you fail the audit, it can result in heavy fees for your business.
To avoid a negative audit outcome, you should run your own IT audit to uncover any shadow IT, breaches within the company's data center, software piracy, outdated processes, and any potential risks, including a breach in compliance. You should also keep an eye out for underused software and duplicate licenses.
Armed with the knowledge of how your business uses software applications, you are more in control, rather than waiting to hear what the vendor discovers in their audit. This way the conversation can be about how they can better serve your organization. If you’re not using all the seats of a contact that you’re paying for, you can know that, and renegotiate the price and terms of the contract.
At the end of the day, vendor management is crucial to your business, as it provides your organization with:
Increased visibility around all of your software purchases
Elevated functionality across your entire tech stack
Improved renewal policy so nothing falls through the cracks
Software spend management
Most companies aren’t aware of how much they are actually spending, which is why SaaS spend management is so important. Shadow IT is one major problem as companies are reimbursing employees for the software they purchased without the company’s knowledge. Then there’s software that was purchased appropriately but is not being used to the full extent of the contract. If several seats are going unused, the best route is to eliminate those extra seats or reallocate them to another department that may need them more.
Once you have a better understanding of the software you currently use (or don’t use) through your IT audit, you can effectively strategize for the future. Create a SaaS budget based on your current software licenses and the renewals you know are coming up, as well as the goals of the company in the next fiscal year and what new software will be needed to reach them.
Setting up standards for how software is purchased is important to SaaS spend management, too. Not only will it prevent shadow IT and any security issues that come with it, but also any unnecessary spend on unapproved licenses.
As you start the process of spend management and you eliminate any duplicate and obsolete programs that may have been in your tech stack, ask yourself the following questions:
Which applications am I paying for?
What functions do they provide?
How much does it cost? Is there a cheaper tool out there?
How many employees within my organization use this tool?
When does the contract expire?
The answers to these questions will give you the visibility you need to determine which tools can be eliminated. And if you’re looking for feedback on these applications directly from their users, consider making the most of user sentiment data. The pulse surveys that will be sent to your team make accessing data points around your employees’ opinions about the software they’re using extremely easy.
If you’re ready to take a hard look at your business’ tech stacks and regain control of the software spend, here are the steps you’ll need to succeed. It involves creating new company policies, conducting an intensive audit, onboarding the company to new processes, and forecasting future software spend on SAM solutions.
1. Audit current tools
Run the internal audit of your organization to fully understand what’s already installed and in use. It should reveal duplicates and what is not being used to its fullest extent. Begin with a software audit so you know the current state of affairs and how software products are helping (or hindering) your company goals.
The objectives of an IT audit are relatively straightforward. They include:
Evaluate all systems and processes in place that secure company data.
Determine if there are potential risks to company assets and find ways to diminish these risks.
Verify the reliability and integrity of company information.
Safeguard all company assets.
Check for compliance with applicable laws, policies, and standards.
2. Organize your license inventory
After the audit, decide how you are going to track and store information about your software licenses. Make it as searchable and user-friendly as possible – meaning do away with the hard to navigate spreadsheet. If it can alert you of expiring licenses and upcoming renewals, even better! This will need to be updated as your software usage changes.
From start to finish, this will mean creating an inventory system if you don’t have one already, moving all current license agreements, hardware assets, and information to the inventory, organizing it so it’s user-friendly, deciding what license metrics you’d like to track, and training someone to use the inventory.
3. Create software procurement standards
Roll out guidelines that each employee at your company must follow in regards to purchasing software. This will help prevent shadow IT and also act as an alert system when a new license is purchased, so you can actively keep your software inventory updated.
Successfully doing this means deciding who in each department is responsible for handling software license requests and creating a process for the actual purchase that involves the IT department.
4. Analyze how the current software is being used
Are all the seats being used to their full potential or are some going unused? If the marketing department has 40 seats for software X and only uses 22 of them, consider reallocating the other 18 to another department that has been wanting access. Or, renegotiate the terms of your contract and eliminate those seats throughout the lifecycle of the contract so you can cut down on IT costs.
s the average the businesses waste on unused SaaS tools each year.
Catalog the inventory into types of software. This will expose any duplicates and prevent money from being wasted on two software options that offer the same thing. For example, if your organization uses Asana for project management software, but an employee prefers Basecamp and downloads for personal use, the duplicate software type can be caught early on.
6. Create a Saas budget
Based on your current usage and the company goals, you can create a thoughtful SaaS budget going into the next fiscal year and keep your software spend in control.
In addition to investing in a SaaS spend tool like G2 Track, Here are the quick steps to successfully creating a budget that is sure to result in cost savings.
Take an inventory of what you already spend money on.
Loop in key stakeholders at your organization so everyone can discuss your SaaS spend.
Set the actual budget based on the tools you absolutely need.
Research any and all software options and see if there’s a cheaper tool that you’d benefit from.
Eliminate any duplicate software.
Review your current contracts and when they’ll renew.
7. Maintain strong vendor relationships
Since deciding which software your team uses is such a big commitment, it’s imperative that you establish a strong relationship with your software vendor. That all starts with conducting a software vendor evaluation to ensure long-term ROI before signing the contract.
In order to create that sort of relationship with your vendors, first you need to:
Breakdown all of your business needs.
Check the vendor’s credentials and be sure they match the needs of your organization.
Ask about any additional fees.
See if they’ll allow for a trial period.
Be on the same page regarding what success looks and what KPIs you’re aiming for.
You don't have to do it alone
Trying to create guidelines and train people on software asset management can feel like an insurmountable hurdle. Let G2 Track help.
It audits your company, tracks your licenses, warns you when renewals are coming up, tracks your software spend, alerts you to which employees aren’t using their seats, updates you on shadow IT and duplicate licenses, and more. It truly is the all-in-one software asset management tool that you’ve been waiting for. Start cutting costs, saving time, and making smarter buying decisions today!
Save yourself the headache and optimize your software usage to make your business happier and healthier. Check out G2 Track with a free demo.
Holly is a manager on the content marketing team. An avid reader and writer, Holly graduated from the University of Missouri with a dual major in Journalism and English. She firmly believes in the power of content and is constantly seeking ways to better engage and delight readers.
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