Nowadays many companies whose business is far distant from informational technologies consider IT-services as a black hole swallowing big and small sums of money for software and services which very often seems unnecessary and ineffective for their top executives. The problem is quite widespread, so the question is how could this attitude be changed and what instrument should be used to solve the issue. And the answer is - a transparent software asset management.
Software expenses is a huge part of expenditures in corporative IT-departments. There are multiple reasons for that: prices for software as well as number of applications increases on a daily basis while vendors change their licensing policy quite often. Another factor is growth of cloud technologies that goes along with increasing costs for equipment – it makes companies look towards the former rather than the latter so many of them stop spending funds on servers, data storages and other equipment. As a result, software expenditures make 40% of overall IT budget thus software asset management becomes an essential tool helping to decrease financial load on business in such an environment.
SAM deals with full life-cycle of software developed for companies and includes purchase, licensing, standardization, inventory, etc. These operations are standardized and regulated by ISO/IEC 19770-1 thus SAM is not a software itself and not a paper-laden process but rather a methodology that helps to effectively manage software assets.
So, where’s the profit?
The thing is that SAM plays for both teams – it saves money and decreases legal risks for executives while developers get optimization of processes and improve efficiency in their work. There are a lot of studies showing that SAM effectively works even in a short term: application of SAM reduced IT costs at 5-30% in average only after the first year it is introduced and at 5% during the following years.
When executives try at least to systemize their software “zoo” they find dozens of unnecessary or rarely used licenses, software with excessive functionality affecting the cost and paid software that can be easily replaced with freeware.
SAM tools and methods are used during the whole life-cycle of software but they can be specific for each company depending on a sphere and maturity of business as well as on internal rules applied in different companies. For this reason, it is necessary to launch SAM integration projects that will fit these tools to the existing processes.
Integration of SAM
Usually companies have quite a poor understanding of SAM integration, that is why the first task for IT consultant is to perform full-scale inventory procedures on the applied software. There is a number of internationally recognized tools for this procedure that analyze and summarize the data on the used software. It is extremely important for the companies that were taken over, because usually their IT structure is quite chaotic.
The next step is to check the legal status of software. Licenses, agreements, possible risks – everything passes through careful analysis. Quite frequently employees crack software with expired licenses or install freeware that is free only for non-commercial use. But what happens even more often is that they just don’t get into legal agreements and are not aware of possible legal consequences
After all legal issues are solved IT consultants help to organize SAM processes through thorough review of existing procedures and instructions and propose possible solutions for its improvement. They work out various options for licensing and choose the most effective ones. For example, if a company uses software with 100 purchased licenses allowing 100 users be there simultaneously but only 10 of them are daily active it is necessary to reduce the number of these licenses in accordance with real number of users and therefore reduce the cost. The whole process is automatized in order to avoid the recurrence of software “zoo”.
When the whole system is organized and structured one may have a possibility to certify the procedures and processes for the compliance to international standard ISO/IEC 19770-1. This stage is very important as achieved results shape the future strategy and define technological solutions that will help not only to decrease costs and reduce legal risks but also will also make the processes transparent and easily-controlled.
Software asset management is truly important for Middle East region due to the increasing number of IT companies as well as due to the necessity to integrate IT products and solutions into the existing industries as these technologies are main foundation for future development and prosperity.