Implementing effective SAM requires the development of a holistic management system to control and protect software throughout its lifecycle. This holistic approach needs to have a clear set of objectives and consider how everyone in the organisation must work together to achieve the right outcomes for the business. Of course, a plan of action to get where you want to be is a must, and it is also important to regularly take a step back and review whether you are getting it right.
A core element of software asset management is to ensure that your organisation is compliant with the terms and conditions of its software licenses. Complex license models mean this can be extremely challenging, whether the software you are using is deployed on your own IT equipment or is being used in the cloud. Getting SAM right can require skilled expertise to help interpret and apply software license terms and conditions. You can find out more about software licensing and how to manage your software licenses in Software Licensing the Basics.
However, licensing compliance is only one aspect of SAM. The implementation of an effective software asset management system also brings significant benefits in terms of improving cyber-security and ensuring you get value for money from the software you consume, whether it is in the cloud or elsewhere.
In this overview of SAM, we’ll look at software management, including:
Like most things, software has a lifecycle. Getting the most value from the software you use requires an approach that covers the entire lifecycle from planning, through to requisition, deployment, maintenance, and retirement of your software. Get the management of your software right, and you will minimise the cost of your software, reduce your risks, and maximise the return on your software investments.
Software can account for a significant amount of your IT budget, so it makes sense to keep a close eye on it. Implementing effective SAM means you’ll only acquire the software you need and can be certain staff only use properly licensed software. Knowledge is power and implementing an effective SAM system means you’ll only pay for what’s being used (particularly important in the cloud) and have a better negotiating position with software publishers and cloud vendors. You’ll also know exactly what infrastructure and hardware you need, cutting out redundant and costly technology, as well as providing information useful if you are planning to upgrade equipment or take advantage of cloud services.
Using legitimate software ensures you can access a complete array of support from the product’s publisher, including official upgrades, offers and discounts, training and insight into how to drive value from the investment.
The key to good control is having a separate budget for software. This allows you to plan for purchases and upgrades in an orderly way and improves your ability to control your software and cloud spend. A separate software budget also allows you to track purchases accurately and spot unauthorized copies of software or cloud services in your business.
Malware is a major threat to all types and sizes of business. SAM gives you a significant advantage in your fight against cyber threats by helping you map exactly what technologies you are using, allowing you to identify gaps and vulnerabilities in your IT systems.
Most security experts will tell you that the biggest risk to businesses isn’t a new piece of malware or virus, it’s people – and more specifically, the errors they make. Good SAM involves developing policies and procedures that detail how you obtain software and purchase cloud services while remaining in control of how software and cloud services are being used. If employees know the correct way to procure the software and cloud services they need, and if you’ve done your homework by knowing exactly what they do and don’t require, then the need to download or purchase software unofficially is greatly diminished.
One of the biggest weaknesses cyber attackers exploit are holes caused by outdated software, and good SAM helps you ensure software is regularly updated and secure. It also guarantees that you’ll be using officially-supplied software, which in turn gives you access to publishers’ support and update programmes, sealing holes before they can be exploited.
Finally, implementing effective SAM gives you peace of mind that you are using official, legally sourced and supported software and cloud services. So many elements outside of your control can affect your business; the last thing you want is for a rogue piece of software to cause you significant legal and financial damage. By knowing what you have, what you need and what you use, SAM allows you to identify unlicensed or unbudgeted software and cloud services and remove them or shut them down quickly. This in turn shuts down any possibility of costly and time-consuming legal battles if you are found to be using illegal software, while protecting your software budget, which can quickly spiral out of control in the cloud.
You can find out more about how SAM helps you protect your business in Use SAM to reduce your cyber-risks.
Effective software management is an iterative process. It’s not a ‘one-and-done’ action, but an ongoing cycle. This is critical, as not only is the first attempt never perfect, nothing is constant. Everything changes and evolves, whether it’s the industry you operate in, the technology you use or your own business. The best way to ensure that you continue to get the most value out of your software while managing the risks is to implement a continuous cycle of improvement, which involves the following steps.
Your business as a whole might recognise the importance of avoiding illegitimate or unauthorised software, but what about employees (however well meaning)? Training, processes and policies will ensure that no one purposefully installs unlicensed or unauthorised products.
Use this checklist to help ensure you get the most out of your software assets and minimise the risks to your business:
Proper software asset management takes time and effort, but the payback is well worth it. If you have followed the steps outlined in this guide to implement a SAM system to manage your software, you have taken the steps necessary to get the full benefit from purchased software and eliminate your company’s exposure to the risks of unlicensed, unbudgeted and unauthorised software.