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Taking a new view on Software Asset Management

By Erik Särnbrink | April 18, 2016

Software Asset Management (SAM) has for too long been the responsibility of a small team within a large enterprise; that team having to almost single-handedly determine what’s best for the organization in terms of software license procurement, distribution, availability and cost optimization.

Given that software can account for as much as 35% of the organization’s overall IT spend (US $326 billion will be spent on enterprise software this year), it’s a massive task for a small group of dedicated IT professionals.

At Snow, we believe that the entire organization should be empowered to contribute towards effective Software Asset Management. We call this concept 4th Generation SAM and a key to achieving it is making the right SAM intelligence available to everyone that needs it, and then giving all IT stakeholders (including the end users themselves) the tools to take charge of their own software needs within the organization’s overall SAM function.

In this blog, I’m going to focus on the reporting of software assets, usage and licensing, and how this plays an important role in revolutionizing the role and visibility of SAM across the organization. Gartner* confirms the importance of this approach: “Gartner clients that mature their SAM processes and use tools to focus on license optimization typically report up to 30% spending reductions within one year.”

Reading SAM reporting shouldn’t be like The Matrix

You might remember the film, where a seemingly meaningless flow of data is translated by a skilled operator into an interpretation of what’s happening in The Matrix. Software Asset Management can often seem like that, but it shouldn’t. Related technologies such as Business Intelligence have shown massive advances in reporting capabilities and user-friendliness in recent years.

And while the source data and calculation engines might be very different, a SAM platform isn’t all that removed from your BI solution, with similar reporting needs. That’s why, while the tabular and granular detail is still very important, in order to make the SAM team as productive as possible, it makes sense to make this data as easy as possible to both report in management dashboard form as well as drill down into the detail.

This makes it easier for the SAM team and other authorized stakeholders (see below) to quickly identify potential issues that need immediate action. No need to go hunting for that needle in the proverbial haystack; use the SAM management dashboards to show you where everything is okay and where attention is needed.

Similarly, the way that reports are constructed can have a massive impact on their use. Two reports might show the same information overall, but how they are presented can make the difference between them being classified as ‘data’ or actual ‘SAM intelligence’.   

Take a consolidated view of your organization’s complete deployment of Microsoft SQL as an example. 

Is it more useful to see a tabular list of all instances and versions, or better to see a grouped ‘family’ report that highlights the diversity of the install base but also shows how different licenses can be used to cover the various versions and editions that are deployed? As consumers of end user applications ourselves, we expect them to be easy to navigate and quick to find what we’re looking for. A requirement that most SAM platforms fail to meet today.

SAM isn’t just for SAM managers

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating:  software makes the world go round. 

Without it, your organization probably wouldn’t exist. At least, not as you know it. And that means that software isn’t the sole responsibility of that small SAM team.

Finance and procurement professionals have a very close interest in costs. Line managers will want to make sure their staff have access to the software they need. HR professionals will want to know that software is rolled-out to new joiners and reclaimed from leavers. 

IT Security staff need to have granular visibility of exactly what software is on the network. Some organizations will have Compliance Officers who will include software in the enterprise’s overall risk analysis. The list of interested parties goes on, and continues to expand as software use becomes ever-more integral to how the organization operates.

What’s more, each of the stakeholders above has their own specific reporting needs, which means they will be interested in different parts of the overall dataset and will consume the SAM intelligence in different ways. It’s certainly not a case of one-size-fits-all.

So why then is it good enough for SAM tools vendors to use language like “the SAM team can make reports available to...”? That kind of report provisioning is completely counter to the concept of 4th Generation SAM. Instead, we believe all the authorized stakeholders in Software Asset Management should be able to find what they want and need without creating an additional overhead on the SAM team.

Unlike a lot of SAM tools, the Snow SAM platform has recognized for many years that the management of software is a group effort. It is a truly multi-user solution and it was the first SAM platform to offer customizable management dashboards for different IT and management functions. For an increasing number of organizations, SAM isn’t a local responsibility but a global one involving teams from all over the world.

Why then force local staff to work in English if it’s not their natural language?  Wouldn’t it be more productive to let stakeholders choose which language they want to use, while maintaining the overall integrity of the data? In just over a month, Snow will reveal the next-generation of Software Asset Management reporting in its upcoming Snow License Manager 8 solution.

Here’s a taste of what’s in store:

Snow License Manager 8 – changing the way we look at SAM

Snow has led the way in SAM management reporting for years, but with Snow License Manager 8, we hit a new level of user-friendliness and in-depth reporting capabilities for both Software Asset Managers and other managers across the organization.

With Snow License Manager 8, you will be able to:

  • Drill-down into data directly from management dashboards
  • Use new trending reports to forecast and model software spend
  • Identify compliance and financial risks for ‘families’ of applications
  • View detailed compliance calculations as well as top-line results
  • Report in 13 languages

  * Cut Software Spending Safely With SAM. 16 March 2016. Analysts: Hank Marquis | Gary Spivak | Victoria Barber  

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