How integrated software asset management helps streamline inter-departmental operations
By now, most enterprises already have IT service management (ITSM) in place, but software asset management (SAM) often isn’t considered a top priority for CIOs. However, while ITSM is geared more towards the efficient delivery of business-critical services, the fast-increasing complexity of today’s enterprise software environments also make clear the need for SAM. It’s just as important to have a robust strategy for controlling software costs and maintaining your software licensing compliance. Ultimately, it’s about buying only the software you need and using all the software you have. This will decrease the burden on management, while boosting your organisation’s resilience and enabling innovation without adding operational risk.
While it’s always great to have out-of-the-box functionality, increasing complexities in today’s enterprise IT environment make it a practical impossibility in many situations. This is a familiar dilemma to any IT manager or administrator, as they seek to implement more efficient ways of deploying, managing, and retiring software-based assets throughout their lifecycles. That’s why your SAM solution must work seamlessly with your other core business routines, such as product cataloguing, software request processes, database management, procurement, and software licensing optimisation. With an automated and integrated solution, you can reduce the overall delivery time for new software and eliminate manual tasks prone to human error.
It’s people, not technology, which drives any business. The HR serves as an umbrella for the entire software lifecycle management process – new hires need new software and licenses to start working. Onboarding a new hire typically starts with HR requesting a new machine with specific software preinstalled, which then needs to go through an approval process. The less time this takes, the sooner the new hire can get to work and, ultimately, reach their maximum level of productivity.
The approval process involves checking the software inventory database for any available software licenses. If there isn’t one available, one may either be repurposed from a retired machine or account or, if there aren’t any, there needs to be a way to send a request to procurement for purchasing the necessary license. It shouldn’t be hard to see why this process, done manually, quickly becomes virtually impossible at scale. That’s why your SAM solution must integrate with HR onboarding processes.
Paid software is typically licensed according to two models: per-core licensing in the case of desktop-side software, or per-user licensing for cloud-based software (as well as an increasing number of locally installed software products). SAM starts with building a complete inventory of your software environment and every license that comes with it. Deploying new installations or opening new user accounts, depending on the license model, consumes a license, except in the case of unlimited licenses.
To optimise software licensing across the enterprise, your SAM solution needs to work with your hardware environment and employee headcount. For example, if a computer is retired, any software licenses installed on that hardware can be placed back in your inventory for use on a new device. Similarly, if an employee leaves the organisation, any account-based apps they use should be made available to a new hire. In other words, inventory management is integral to the decommissioning process.
In today’s enterprises, the ability to innovate and adapt to change without unnecessary hurdles is critical for succeeding in a fast-paced and highly competitive market. That’s why companies need an efficient and established process for requesting new software deployments, not only for new hires, but also for the enterprise as a whole. At the same time, you can hardly afford the risky situation of having thousands of employees being able to download, purchase, or install any software they want without restrictions.
SAM can only be effective if it’s deeply integrated with the procurement and fulfillment process. For example, employees might want to choose from a list of approved applications to deploy on their machines, without having to make a request in person and then wait for a lengthy manual approval process. In another case, the head of a specific business department might want to implement entirely new software without going through unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles first. In the end, the software approval and procurement process should be as fast and as efficient as possible, albeit without adding risk to the organisation. After all, no one wants to go through a week-long approval process just to install Slack or Skype.
Integration + automation = revenue
As the enterprise becomes evermore defined by its software infrastructure, there are many more situations where integration and automation translate into increased revenue. Software asset management solutions are far more than just ways to maintain inventories of software; they also automate compliance, seamlessly support new business needs, strengthen risk tolerance, and reduce costs. Together, these factors boost revenue and help make businesses more adaptable to the constant pace of change.