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Software Asset Management Transformation – Planning & Considerations

For many organisations, the management of software assets can be a real challenge and potentially very costly. This paper from iCore provides insight into some of these key challenges and the strategies that an organisation may undertake to overcome these, while also looking to transform or improve the overall software asset management (SAM) capability within the organisation

Why is Software Asset Management so important? 

The effective management of software assets within any organisation is crucial for a number of key reasons, including the following:
  • Cost Control and Optimization: By managing licenses, avoiding over-licensing, and identifying unused or underutilized software, organisations can reduce costs and make more informed decisions about their software investments.
  • Licence Compliance: Remaining compliant with software licensing agreements and regulations is essential. Non-compliance can lead to legal consequences, including fines and penalties.
  • Security Management: Keeping software up to date with the latest patches and security updates is crucial for protecting systems and data from vulnerabilities.
  • Software Licence Management: By understanding which software is actively used and which is not, IT teams can reallocate licenses and resources to meet the actual needs of their users, departments, or projects.
  • Long term Strategy: By providing valuable insights into software usage patterns and trends. This information aids in strategic decision-making regarding software investments, upgrades, and migrations.


Many organisations are faced with the challenges of managing their software assets across often very diverse and complex operating environments. Challenges may include:

  • A lack of Software Asset Management (SAM) tooling. Asset data captured manually, with inconsistent processes which are prone to error.
  • How to track installed software licences and utilization in real time, ensuring that software usage is captured effectively.
  • Capturing, maintaining and storing all software licences, agreements and contracts across the organisation.
  • How to ensure software licence compliance when comparing what has been purchased against what is installed.
  • Identifying opportunities for cost reduction and optimization, such as eliminating underutilized software or negotiating better licensing agreements.
  • How prepared the organisation is for unplanned software licence audits from 3rd party vendors.


The following section provides a detailed set of phases which may be performed when planning the transformation or improvements of the SAM function and all supporting processes and functions.

  • Definition & Scoping: Before embarking on a SAM transformation / improvement programme, it’s important to define the overall scope of what should be included. Considerations may include the type of software in scope for asset management, e.g., desktop, server and cloud software, the sites/locations, teams and available budget etc.
  • Discovery & Fact Finding: The objective of the discovery phase is to determine the current approach and effectiveness of the organisations SAM function. This may include the planning of a number of interviews and group discussions with key stakeholders who can provide inputs into how the SAM function operates on a day to day basis, including any supporting processes and collaboration with other teams. The following aspects may be considered as part of the discovery phase.

Figure 1 – Key Aspects / Components of a SAM function

  • The Assessment: During the discovery phase, potential gaps and improvement opportunities for specific SAM components may have been identified. To explore each SAM component in more detail, a formal assessment should be carried out to understand the current maturity level of the SAM function. The following table provides some high level questions that may be asked during the assessment.
Key Component Questions / Considerations
Asset Tracking 
  • How are software assets, licences and installations tracked? 
  • What software repositories / inventories are in use across the organisation? 
Licence Compliance 
  • How are software licences, agreements and contracts maintained? 
  • Are software licenses regularly reviewed for compliance?  
Software Usage 
  • What tools or methods are in place to monitor software usage across the organisation? 
  • What methods are in place to identify unauthorised or unapproved software usage by users? 
Licence Reconciliation 
  • How do you ensure that the number of licenses purchased matches the number of installations? 
  • What is the process for reconciling discrepancies between installed software and licensed software? 
  • How do you Identify opportunities for cost reduction and optimization? 
  • Are there any software applications that are consistently underutilised or overutilized? 
  • How is software utilisation monitored and managed? 
  • Is there a mechanism for tracking user access to software applications? 
Supporting Processes 
  • How do end users request additional software? 
  • What is the process for deploying end user software? 
Supporting Functions 
  • How does the SAM team collaborate with other functions such as Procurement, Contract and Finance Management? 
  • What steps and procedures are in place to proactively prepare for potential software audits from external vendors? 
  • Analysis & Recommendations: For each assessment question, a scoring mechanism should be used to determine the current maturity of the SAM function. From this, recommendations for improvement can be identified. Recommendations may cover areas such as:
    • Organisation and Design: Including the operating model, required teams, resources and governance model.
    • Roles and Responsibilities: May include specific roles within the SAM function plus other supporting areas and teams.
    • Processes: Covering the day to day operating processes within the SAM function as well as any other ITSM processes such as request fulfilment, software deployment and retirement.
    • Tooling: Specific SAM tooling may be recommended with features such as software install and licence tracking, licence entitlement management and cost tracking. Other tooling may also be recommended for example, ITSM tooling for end user software request and deployment management.
  • The Business Case & Long Term Roadmap: The final phase of SAM transformation planning will be to create the investment business case, for which senior stakeholders will expect to see specific value outcomes and benefits for each of the recommendations. As part of this process, it may be useful to create an improvement roadmap, detailing short, medium and long term actions.

In Conclusion

Embarking on a Software Asset Management transformation / improvement programme of work, requires planning, investment and buy-in from all stakeholders involved in operating, supporting and collaborating with the SAM function. During the planning and discovery phases, it’s important to involve all appropriate stakeholders in order to fully identify the key challenges faced by all teams involved in SAM on a day to day basis.

Determining the current maturity of the SAM function and supporting processes alongside the current challenges is crucial for identifying potential improvement opportunities. In order to fully assess the organisations SAM capabilities, a holistic approach will be required that looks at not just the tooling and operational aspects, but also other key functions and processes such as procurement, contract and financial management that should be part of the overall SAM capability.

Finally, like any investment business case, value outcomes and benefits should be clearly articulated to ensure successful approval for the proposed SAM transformation programme of work.

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