7 Software Asset Management Best Practices: From Reactive to Proactive

TABLE OF CONTENTS

With digital advancement, organizations have embraced the practice of granting their employees the freedom to sign up and utilize different SaaS applications to expedite their work processes. But with such flexibility, there are some challenges, such as the IT teams often struggle to cope with the increase of ad-hoc software procurements and the challenges of eliminating shadow IT. 

So address these concerns, this is where software asset management (SAM) best practises come into play, offering a solution to help your IT teams effectively manage and optimize SaaS applications while regaining control over the expenditure and potential wastage associated with SaaS usage.

Software Asset Management (SAM) is a strategic practice that enables your IT team to effectively manage the complete life cycle of SaaS applications (from deployment to disposal) within your organization. It encompasses a comprehensive set of processes dedicated to efficiently managing, controlling, optimizing, and safeguarding your organization's crucial assets (including apps), from initial procurement to deployment, maintenance, utilization, and eventual disposal.

But how exactly does software asset management help? The software asset management process is crucial to any organization's IT department, providing valuable insights into software utilization. It helps your software asset management team make timely decisions regarding license usage, upgrades, and more. Some additional advantages of software asset management are listed below:

  • SAM enhances transparency within the software ecosystem by distinguishing supported and unsupported applications by vendors.

  • SAM operations and procedures align with industry standards such as the COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) framework or ITIL V3 (Information Technology Infrastructure Library)service management standards.

  • SAM tools monitor the remaining number of licenses, allowing for the removal of unauthorized software or reallocation of underutilized software to reduce additional expenses and optimize software subscriptions.

  • The best asset management tools also help optimize the procurement of both perpetual and subscription-based licenses.

  • Asset management software incorporates intelligent features that can flag specific criteria related to software licensing and asset lifecycle management. These flags enable your teams to proactively identify cost-saving opportunities, such as combining support and licensing costs.

    Now that you are familiar with the benefits of using software asset management strategy, it’s time we move further and discuss the best practices for SAM.  

Best Practices To Effectively Manage Your Organization’s Software Asset 

Organizations need to prioritize the adoption of top-tier methodologies for integrating SAM into their operational frameworks. But what strategies need to be implemented? Below, we present you a list of key best practices for software asset management that your team can implement to effectively manage your software assets:

1. Choose The Right Software Asset Management Tool

Many companies are still using legacy on-premise software to manage software assets. However, these tools cannot generate real-time reports, and nor do they have the analytics features to generate meaningful insights. So, to streamline your software asset management process, you need to opt for a modern platform. 

However, there are multiple applications available in the market, so in order to select the suitable SAM tool, you, as an IT manager, need to visualize business needs and how this tool will help your IT team manage the apps effectively. You can look into some of the key features that are listed below to choose the best SAM tool: 

  • Software Discovery: The SAM tool should be capable of automatically detecting any new software connecting to the network environment. As the use of cloud-based apps is growing, being able to identify SaaS apps is a must.|

    In addition, it should be able to track details such as license cost, billing, renewal dates, etc.

    License Management: Next, check if the tool you are considering can automatically track software purchases, upgrades, and renewals across the lifecycle. This feature can be invaluable in helping SAM teams monitor changes to license terms and conditions over a period of time.

    License Management

  • Reporting and Analytics: Real-time reporting is key to providing senior management relevant and timely SAM insights. As an organization scales, consistent reporting can help SAM teams track the SaaS app spending of individual business units based on real-time data (provided by reports)

    Furthermore, built-in analytics help decision-makers understand whether existing SAM processes are working as they are meant to.

  • Scalability: When choosing SAM software, businesses must think two to three years ahead in terms of their requirements. In the days to come, the majority of the software used in organizations will be SaaS. The selected tool should have robust capabilities as well.

    This is why SaaS-based SAM tools are a far better alternative to traditional on-premise tools used by most companies today. They are scalable and can be easily adapted to changing business needs over a period of time.

  • Flexibility: Many companies would rather stick to existing SAM tools than buy a better one despite their limitations. The reason: they want to avoid customization and integration hassles. Ensure that the SAM tools you are considering are easy to integrate into your existing systems and workflows.

    Among the competition, one tool that truly stands out and offers your IT above mandatory features is Zluri. Zluri is a modern SaaS management platform designed to provide your IT team with complete visibility into your organization's SaaS ecosystem. Its advanced data discovery engine eliminates the need for manual data gathering, enabling your team to effortlessly collect essential app insights. Zluri delivers precise information about your SaaS applications, including usage statistics, user profiles, underutilized licenses, unauthorized apps, and more.

    SaaS management platform

    Furthermore, with the help of this visibility, your IT team can eliminate shadow IT by discovering every application present in your organization. Additionally, it facilitates efficient SaaS license management, reducing SaaS expenditure. 

    Zluri goes a step further by automatically generating timely reports, allowing your IT team to swiftly detect and address any unauthorized access attempts, preventing security breaches.

    Apart from that, one of Zluri's strengths lies in its seamless integration with over 800 applications, simplifying the acquisition of curated SaaS app data. Also, Zluri is a flexible and scalable solution that aligns perfectly with your IT requirements, enabling them to streamline software asset management processes. 

    underused licensees

2. Push The Software Asset Management Agenda Proactively

SAM teams need to be in regular contact with key stakeholders to generate awareness about their cause. Sharing reports and insights regularly is a great way to build relationships with them. Unfortunately, such opportunities don’t present themselves.

It requires you to take a certain amount of initiative and be persuasive in your communication. You can also run focus groups with key executives to engage them further. Getting senior leadership to advocate the importance of SAM is another great strategy to drive active participation and engagement.

This should be easy for most IT teams directly reporting to C-level executives.

3. Establish Clear Goals & Standardize Software Procurement

Large enterprise companies have complex reporting hierarchies, and their software procurement processes tend to be tailored to the specific needs of individual business units. Additionally, instances where employees are granted the freedom to make application purchases can lead to spontaneous, ad hoc procurement. This complexity poses a challenge for SAM teams in keeping track of those responsible for app acquisition and deployment.

To address these issues, establishing standardized guidelines for license management becomes paramount. Zluri provides a solution by allowing your IT team to thoroughly review each new software request for features resembling those you may already possess. This proactive approach ensures that you only pay for the applications your organization truly needs, preventing unnecessary spending on random software.

Furthermore, Zluri offers insights into software license utilization rates, indicating the percentage of unused licenses compared to the total licenses held. This data enables your IT managers to regularly communicate key performance indicators (KPIs) with the rest of the team and take proactive measures to efficiently manage the software procurement process.

4. Categorize All Software Assets

To streamline your software management process, the next step involves creating a list of all currently installed software, even including those that have not been used in a while.  Experts recommend categorizing the list into three distinct groups based on cost, compliance, and business impact.

For instance, the most costly applications, bearing the highest business impact and risk exposure, should find their place in the first category. Applications with known security vulnerabilities can be assigned to a separate category, perhaps referred to as Category 2 for potential termination. Lastly, free-to-use applications can be categorized separately as well.

Here's where Zluri plays a pivotal role in simplifying this categorization process. Zluri's data discovery engine provides your IT team with valuable app insights, which further helps them categorize the applications into distinct groups, such as:

  • Managed Applications: These are SaaS apps officially approved by your IT teams.

  • Unmanaged Applications: Referring to SaaS apps that are not approved by your IT team.

  • Needs Review: SaaS apps that are yet to be reviewed by your IT teams.

  • Restricted Applications: SaaS apps that are restricted to use in the organization.¬†

    Restricted Applications

  • Critical Applications: These are SaaS apps with high risk and threat scores.

    Critical Applications

By categorizing your applications using Zluri, your IT team gains the ability to identify and eliminate redundant or duplicate applications, pinpoint whether employees are accessing critical applications, and evaluate potential security risks. This approach enables your IT team to effectively manage your SaaS applications.

5. Update Your Software License Inventories Often

Once your team has categorized all your software assets, it's crucial to ensure that the licenses adequately cover the various ways employees across different departments utilize them. Assessing utilization levels is essential to determine whether the cost of all the licenses in your possession is justified. Also, monitoring the user usage data will further help in keeping your inventory data current and up-to-date and serve as the single source of truth for your software licenses.

Furthermore, as we know, the volume of SaaS applications today is growing exponentially. So, companies need to ensure that the SAM tool they procure has a large library of SaaS applications. But traditional SAM tools fail here. However, at Zluri, the application library has around 250,000 applications, and the list keeps increasing by a few thousand applications on a daily basis.

With Zluri, your IT team gains the capability to seamlessly update your software license inventories. They can monitor the names of apps being downloaded or upgraded by specific users, enabling them to make necessary adjustments in the records. 

Additionally, Zluri provides insights into app ownership, promptly notifying your team of any changes in ownership. 

app ownership

Furthermore, your team can also keep a watchful eye on subscription statuses, including trials, renewals, upgrades, and more. This comprehensive oversight ensures your IT/SAM team remains well-informed about all app-related information.

6. Optimize Your License Inventory

Now, your team needs to assess whether you are overspending on new licenses and, if so, by how much. Also, they need to go through agreements and find out which licenses are automatically renewed on a monthly/annual basis, or after a specific duration. 

So to help you optimize your license inventory, what Zluri does is:

  • It displays all the app spend-related details in a centralized dashboard, including actual costs, year-to-date spending, and more. Also, it provides your IT team with hidden charges or true-up costs, i.e., the difference between the cost that comes from the contract and the actual expenditure.¬†

     true-up costs

  • It also effectively identifies redundant applications and promptly flags them for termination.¬†

  • Additionally, when applications go unused for a significant period, Zluri sends notifications to your IT team, enabling them to either reallocate these licenses or remove them entirely.¬†

     identifies redundant applications

  • Furthermore, Zluri offers proactive alerts regarding upcoming renewals, providing your team with the necessary time to determine whether rightsizing licenses, maintaining the existing plan, or suspending it is the most prudent course of action.

  • Zluri‚Äôs experts negotiate for more favorable deals when procuring app licenses, utilizing strategies like ZOPA (Zone of Possible Agreement) and BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement). Also, in situations where an application has multiple users spanning different departments, Zluri‚Äôs experts grab the opportunities to secure better deals from the vendor upon renewal.

    Apart from that, with Zluri, the optimization of software licenses extends across three critical dimensions: price, latent value, and future roadmap. For a comprehensive exploration of this topic, you can read the full post by clicking here, but here's a summary of the key points.

'Price' dimension helps you

  • Understand SaaS wastage in terms of unused subscriptions, duplicate apps, abandoned apps, etc.

  • Ensure subscription renewals are thought through ahead of time.

  • Get visibility of hidden costs to help you better .

  • Leverage discounts for loyalty, bulk subscriptions, referrals, etc.

'Latent value' dimension helps you

  • Understand cross-application integration and data movement capabilities

  • Know apps automation capabilities.

  • Be aware of training requirements for employees.

The 'Future roadmap' dimension helps you

  • Predict improvements in products to do more using machine learning.

  • Transparency in data privacy and security.

  • If the product roadmap aligns with your needs.

7. Prepare for compliance audits

When it comes to compliance audits, taking a proactive stance is always preferable to a reactive one. Even the slightest compliance oversight can have negative repercussions. Experts strongly recommend conducting a comprehensive gap analysis to identify any expired licenses or instances of proprietary software lacking proper licenses. An internal audit serves as a crucial step in addressing any weaknesses in your existing IT policies and aligning them with the updated compliance standards. 

So, this is where Zluri plays a pivotal role in preparing organizations for compliance audits. It provides your IT team with detailed compliance-related data for each application, enabling your team to present auditors with a comprehensive repository of compliance data during the audit.

compliance audits

Now that you know how Zluri helps your IT team streamline the software asset management process, why not take the next step and book a demo? Experience firsthand how this single solution can be a game-changer in efficiently managing your assets. 


Also Read: 5 Best Practices For Software License Management | Zluri

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