In most organizations, software asset management (SAM) is not given much importance since IT professionals don’t emphasize its relevance. It could be influenced by the fact the responsibilities of a SAM team are often delegated to other employees.
But with the rising of software procurement costs, distributed workforces, and the rapid growth of the SaaS industry, we are starting to see software asset management less as a nice-to-have and more as an essential business component.
And these are just a few hints of its importance. In this article, we'll explore:
- What Software Asset Management entails
- The key members in a SAM team
- The reasons why you should create the area in your organization
So, let’s explore.
Software asset management, in a nutshell
SAM is a set of processes used to ensure that the organization makes the best use of its software assets and, simultaneously, ensures that the team has all the necessary tools to perform their jobs. Its main responsibilities are:
- purchasing and disposing of software tools,
- ensuring that they’re performing as needed,
- staying within the organization’s policies, software license compliance, and other software-related activities.
It is similar to hardware asset management since it makes sure that employees have enough tools for doing their jobs, but at the same time, avoids unnecessary asset purchases. When it comes to software management, this means managing the software licenses, purchasing new ones and updating expired ones, and monitoring the software usage among employees to estimate the licenses required.
However, it's important to notice that software asset management has higher legal and financial risks than hardware asset management. Software vendors often conduct license audits to check if the company uses more instances than the licenses allow. If this happens, the company may face legal action or penalties.
What does a software asset manager do within a SAM team?
Now that we covered what software asset management entails, it's time to take a look at what the software asset manager is responsible for, to get a better idea of their value.
The software asset manager will be the go-to person in the organization for everything related to software assets. They should have high technical skills and experience working with different tools and technologies. They will be responsible for developing the software asset management policy in line with the rest of the asset management policies.
They’ll also need excellent communication skills as they’ll be the point of contact for employees from different departments, senior executives, and stakeholders. They’ll also have to communicate and educate employees on the importance of license management to the employees.
Here are some of the significant responsibilities of the software asset manager:
Manage software requests
If a team or an organization needs new software, they’ll approach the software asset manager. The asset manager will have to evaluate the submission, explore if any alternate solutions are already in use in the organization or if a cheaper alternative is available in the market, and efficiently process the request.
Purchase, update, and manage software licenses
When new software is required, the software asset manager is responsible for coordinating the purchase by working with the senior executive, stakeholders, and vendors. They’ll negotiate software license agreements and get the best option according to the organization's requirements. Any additional licenses must be required to handle the software lifecycle from purchase to disposal.
The asset manager is also responsible for assigning software licenses as required. For example, if an employee joins or leaves the organization or changes departments, the asset manager must adjust or move around the licenses accordingly.
Manage the software asset management team
The asset manager will have to coordinate the activities of the SAM team. They’ll have to delegate different activities and roles to team members and track their progress. The manager will be responsible for communicating the SAM policy of the organization to the team and implementing it with them.
Maintain software asset management tool
A SAM solution like our own InvGate Insight is essential for efficiently managing the software requirements of an organization. It can help maintain asset inventory and automatically monitor software and licenses. The software asset manager will be responsible for adding new tools to the asset management tool and keeping the information up-to-date.
Keeping the organization ready for software license audits
License management is complicated; there are many different types of licenses - some charge per user, some cost per usage, and some expense per workstation. And failing license audits can be very costly, both legally and financially. Keeping proofs of software usage and documentation is essential to clear license audits, and the asset manager's responsibility is to keep the organization ready for them.
Monitoring usage and optimizing software purchases
According to a Statista’s report, worldwide spending on enterprise software reached US$ 672 billion in 2022, with an average of US$70.42 per employee. It is the responsibility of the software asset manager to track the usage of different software, remove spending on unused software, and optimize software purchases and upgrades. They’re responsible for keeping track of the ROI on every software asset and reducing wastage.
What does a software asset management team look like?
The exact make-up of a software asset management team may vary from organization to organization based on demand. In fact, in smaller organizations, the responsibilities may be carried out by asset management team members without a designated software asset manager.
In larger organizations, the software asset management team may have sub-teams for managing the different aspects of SAM. And in some cases, specialists may be consulted on an as-needed basis instead of having a permanent role. But with organizations having a dedicated software asset management team, some of the roles may be as described below:
- Software asset manager — As discussed above, the software asset manager is responsible for coordinating the activities of the SAM team. They own the process and are responsible for implementing the SAM strategy.
- Software asset management analyst — SAM analyst tracks and monitors the organization's usage patterns of different software assets. They’re responsible for ensuring that the usages are within the terms of license agreements and finding opportunities for reducing licensing costs by harvesting unused licenses or reducing licenses based on use.
- Software asset management specialist — They’re usually a contract role and experts on specific aspects of SAM. They may be experts in managing the SAM tools, configuring the systems, analyzing software usage, or procuring software. Their exact role and responsibilities can vary with organizations.
- SAM tool administrators — The SAM tool admins are responsible for maintaining the software asset management solution. They keep the critical up-to-date, configuring the system according to the organization’s requirements, monitoring the software assets for anomalies, and making changes as necessary. They may also be tasked with implementing and maintaining automation in SAM activities.
- Software change managers — Software change managers take care of deploying software, managing updates, and any change related to the software assets. They’ll be responsible for scheduling updates and working with release teams to ensure minimal disruption. They’ll also be taking care of any license or technical issues related to the changes.
- Procurement manager — The procurement manager will coordinate with the SAM manager to process software requests. They’ll be in charge of analyzing software requirements of the organization, liaising with stakeholders and executives, securing vendors, negotiating software license agreements, pricing, and other terms, and coordinating purchase decisions.
It's important to keep in mind that, for SAM implementation, executive buy-in is essential; someone within the board advocating for SAM practices. The director of SAM comes up. They will liaise with the SAM team and convey the organization's goals. They may also be responsible for the SAM initiatives.
As you may have noticed, there are some overlaps in the roles, and the exact responsibilities of these roles may vary with organizations. And in top of these roles, there may be other supporting roles, for example, legal experts, internal auditors, and others that help the SAM team.
5 reasons why you need a software asset management team
Even if you don’t have a dedicated SAM team, it is still an essential activity in every organization, and odds are they’re just assigned to other team members or employees. And maybe this has worked for you so far. But with the rapid growth of SaaS solutions, you may want to rethink your SAM strategy.
Here are five reasons why you need a software asset management team:
1. Size of the organization
This is the main determining factor for deciding if you need a SAM team. A dedicated SAM team may not be a priority if your firm has just ten or so employees. And even as you grow to a team of maybe up to fifty employees, you can delegate the responsibilities to other team members.
But as the organization grows, the number of workstations increases so does the number of users for different software. It may get more challenging to update this software in every system and monitor licenses to ensure compliance. As employees leave or join, you’ll need someone or a team to coordinate how software licenses are handled.
2. Number of software assets
Just like the size of the organization, the complexity of SAM increases with the number of software assets used. You’ll need a system to manage the software licenses, updates, and new software requests. If you’re missing software updates, if software procurements are going unnecessarily long, or if you’re using spreadsheets or multiple SAM tools for managing your assets, you may want to consider getting a SAM team.
3. The cost associated with software assets
This is another crucial reason that can help you decide if you need a SAM team. If your software costs are going exponentially high or there are too many unused licenses, you may gain severe financial benefits by streamlining software asset management. With a dedicated software asset management team, you can reduce the costs associated with the software.
Examine the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining the software and its wastages. If there are too many redundant software solutions, unused software licenses, or unused seats, investing in a SAM team may be a good idea.
4. High risks associated with license compliance failures
One of the main reasons organizations invest in software asset management is to be audit-ready. If you’re using multiple types of software licenses or if you’re using expensive software, the risk of a compliance failure is high.
If your company constantly finds itself with expired licenses or failing internal or external compliance audits, you may want to invest in a SAM team. They can help you stay ahead of licensing requirements and prevent costly mistakes.
5. High risk of cyber attacks
Outdated software versions or missed security patches can make your organization vulnerable to cyber attacks. Delays in processing software asset requests can increase the risk of cyber threats. A software asset management team can reduce your risk of a cyberattack.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is software asset management?
Software asset management ensures that the organization and its employees have all the software tools they need to carry out their job efficiently while keeping the associated costs low. The process also includes managing the software licenses to ensure compliance with the licensing agreements.
What are the responsibilities of a software asset management team?
The software asset management team manages the entire software lifecycle, from processing the software requests, purchasing the software, deploying it, and disposing of it at the end of its life. They’re also responsible for maintaining and updating the software, managing the software licenses, and ensuring the costs associated with software assets are kept low.
What are the benefits of software asset management?
Software asset management keeps the organization ready for software license audits and reduces the risks of compliance failure. The process will also reduce the overall cost of software for the organization.