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How SAM Can Help Optimize Your Software Environment

Software asset management may not seem like a top priority to some organizations, but it should be.


For most organizations, software asset management isn’t an urgent priority — not in the way a server going down almost always is. Instead, managing software assets effectively is something IT teams say they want to do, but often don’t get around to doing. Other priorities come first, so they kick the can down the road on SAM.

But sooner or later, not taking care of SAM could hurt you.

For example, I recently worked with an organization on a short-term software compliance engagement. As a usual part of such an engagement, we deployed a discovery tool on the company’s network to determine all the different types of software it had installed. When we discussed the presence of IBM software on the network with the CIO, he said he had no idea the organization was using any tools from IBM.

This situation represents a significant risk. Had the organization been targeted for an audit, it may have faced substantial penalties and licensing costs, which generally reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The average fine for noncompliance is around $100,000 for each license that is out of compliance.

But as much as avoiding an audit (and the costs associated with one) is a powerful incentive for organizations, there are more significant benefits to be gained from an effective SAM program.

Ease Your Pain

Managing software is a common pain point for many IT teams. In general, organizations don’t know how they’re spending their software dollars. They have limited visibility into what they have deployed, and they don’t have a way to compare what they’re spending money on with what they’re using.

This causes significant challenges. Most modern organizations want to achieve digital transformation and drive operations into the cloud, but this is very difficult to accomplish when they don’t understand their current software environment. Further, asset management is a basic security practice, but many organizations don’t know what’s on their network. If you don’t understand what you have deployed, how can you know what you’re doing is secure?

Perhaps most significantly, an effective SAM practice can help organizations reduce their overall IT spending. Gartner projects that organizations globally will spend $391 billion on software this year, making up more than 10 percent of global IT spending. But many organizations are spending money on software that goes underused, or perhaps isn’t even used at all. Research indicates that the average company spends about $259 per desktop on unused software.

SAM enables these companies to optimize their software environment, getting rid of unused licenses (a particularly common problem with cloud deployments, where it’s easy to acquire new licenses and forget about them when a user leaves the company or moves into a new role) or moving licenses to users who will better take advantage of them.

The Path Forward

Optimizing software spending can even help organizations move into the future. Line-of-business leaders often make requests to IT teams around digital transformation, but some organizations don’t have the resources to achieve this goal. Asset management can free up funding for investments in transformational initiatives.

An effective asset management program is supported by five key elements:

  • People: All lines of business should be involved, including finance, administration, legal and technical personnel.
  • Process: A SAM program should be tailored to fit your business and ensure ongoing data accuracy.
  • Technology: A holistic solution covers every facet of asset management, including procurement, discovery and reconciliation.
  • Communication: The SAM process should include dialogue with all stakeholders.
  • Continuous improvement: The organization should regularly add new features and updates to its SAM program to keep up with changes in the industry.

Ultimately, the information from your asset management efforts can help you to drive better decisions throughout your organization.

Learn more about how CDW and its partners can help your organization reduce costs with effective SAM policies.