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Image: A Letter to a New Software Asset Manager

Dear Software Asset Manager,

Sorry to hear that you are troubled. As a fellow Software Asset Manager, I know how vexing your job can be. Vendors are adopting ever more complex software licensing terms while many of them are demanding a higher level of scrutiny on license compliance. And the move to the cloud? Don’t get me started on the challenges the cloud is creating!

So what are you doing about it?

You told me you have just deployed a best-of-breed Software Asset Management system. Good start. Now you can work on bringing some order and clarity to both your license entitlement and consumption records.

Yes, I know you’ll say that your purchasing records have been poorly maintained over time, but despite this, you believe that your predecessors have purchased sufficient license entitlements to cover your company’s software use.

My Advice? Acknowledge that there will be some gaps in your purchasing and entitlement records; they won’t all be filled. The truth of your historical entitlement is what you and your vendors agree it to be, right now. So start working with your vendors to establish baseline positions, and work on becoming software audit ready.

Here is the outline of a plan that you might try:

  1. Build a schedule for preparing software license position reports:
    • Start with vendor true-ups. Mark these as your initial set of target dates for which license position reports must be available
    • Next, review all of your company’s software maintenance contracts and find out when the maintenance renewals are due. Some maintenance renewals may not co-inside with vendor true-ups, so add these dates to your schedule
    • Also consider software audit risk. What are your highest value software assets, and which do you spend most on each year? Make sure you are audit ready for these as early as possible, particularly if the vendor has an aggressive audit program
  2. Three months before each schedule date, review and correct your license consumption and usage for each software title
    • Aim to “right-size” consumption. That is, ensure that your users have access to the software they need, but remove software from systems where it is not needed
    • Update installed software versions where appropriate, to ensure that used applications continue to be covered under maintenance contacts
    • Re-run your license consumption reports and continue reclaiming licenses for unused software until you are satisfied that your license consumption reflects your software use
  3. Gather together you purchasing records and any other baseline entitlement records for the software titles under review
    • Tally your known software license entitlements, and determine if they cover both your current and planned usage
    • If your records for purchased entitlements are less than the maintenance renewal number, then you may decide that you want to negotiate on the basis that your records are incomplete, and that the maintenance number best reflects your current entitlement
    • If your records for purchased entitlements and your maintenance contract numbers are in close agreement, then happy days— you should have less to negotiate with your vendor
  4. Finally, a month before the renewal is due, run an Effective License Position (ELP) report to summarize your best understanding of your license position
  5. A couple of license compliance situations may present themselves:
    • If you are non-compliant, then at least you will know that you have done all that you can to right-size your consumption, and minimize potential audit true-up charges
    • If you are compliant and over licensed, that is, you believe that you have purchased more license entitlements than you need, you may want to consider negotiating for a lower maintenance renewal number
  6. You should now be in the best place possible to begin a contract renegotiation or true-up with your vendor, and be audit ready.

Now that you have a plan, what about a checklist for getting the best value from your SAM system?

Here are some tips on what we look for in our SAM system when we prepare license position (ELP) reports:

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In your SAM system:

  1. Ensure that you have Purchase Order records that reflect your entitlements, and check that these entitlements are counted in the appropriate license records in the SAM repository
    • Look for unprocessed Purchase Order records, and link them to license records to ensure all of your known entitlements are being counted
  2. Update, and as necessary, create license records to reflect the license entitlements granted to you under EULAs and other contract types
    • If your SAM system is capable, it should be able to recommend how to configure entitlements from its knowledge of software products, as identified by SKUs on purchase orders

  3. Look for evidence of unrecognized installs for licensable software:
    • Your SAM vendor can add extra application recognition rules to your system to ensure that all application installs are recognised and counted
    • Link new application records to appropriate license records
  4. Check each license for consumption, installs or usage, that should be exempted
    • Is any license consumption coming from Stand-By, or Development systems that are exempt under your software product use rights (aka Product Terms)?

What your management probably wants most from you, at least in the short term, is “no surprises.” So start working the problem as soon as possible. The above suggestions may not be a complete solution, but it might be enough to help you get started.

Hope to hear about your software asset management successes in the near future!