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Image: SKU library: A key differentiator between Software Asset Management tools

If you are in the market for a software asset management (SAM) tool you are probably looking for ways to narrow down your search. One high-value SAM tool feature, helpful for bringing organizations to the highest Software License Optimization maturity levels, is the SKU (stock keeping unit) library, also known as the SKU catalog or SKU database. A recent article posted by Martin Thompson at The ITAM Review, entitled How SKU catalogues save time and money, provides an explanation of a SKU catalog and insight into how organizations can save money using this technology. Another article on the topic posted by Steve Mullins also explains the importance of using SKUs for SAM.

As mentioned by the previously referenced articles, SAM tools that effectively use a SKU library during the license reconciliation process offer the following benefits over tools that lack this feature:

  • Tremendous savings in time and money
  • More accurate licensing data
  • Greater flexibility to use inventory data from third-party tools such as SCCM, Altiris and the like

More advanced Software License Optimization tools will capitalize on the SKU library by including features such as:

  • Automatically linking existing license records to imported purchase orders (POs)
  • Automatically creating new license records based on imported POs
  • Offering recommendations during the software license reconciliation process

One dependency for utilizing a SKU library is the inclusion of the SKU number on each purchase order  line item for software license purchases, which is a software asset management best practice. If your organization doesn’t currently satisfy this dependency, you should consider realigning your purchasing processes to take advantage of automated PO processing with SKUs in the future.

Not all SKU databases are created equal

Many tool vendors claim to use SKUs during software license reconciliation processing but Software License Optimization tools with effective SKU libraries should meet the following specifications:

  • Contains at least 500,000 SKU entries across thousands of software vendors
  • Contains entries for all of your targeted vendors and key applications
  • Is updated at least monthly
  • Automatically links the SKU to
    • Purchase Orders
    • Recognized applications from the discovery and inventory process
    • Software Product Use Rights to enable you to fully leverage your license entitlements and reduce ongoing costs for software