The Best Software Asset Management Tools For ITAM
There are four critical questions you must be able to answer to choose the best software asset management tools for your ITAM needs.
As an IT director or ITAM lead, it’s your job to be on top of the IT assets of your company or organization at all times. Your data must always be up to date, reliable, and trustworthy. Every day, companies and organizations are forced to spend millions of dollars in unbudgeted expenses simply because the data coming from their software management tools is flawed.
For example, if you’re not on top of your software landscape, you could renew more licenses than you need, translating into tens of millions of dollars every year for many companies and institutions. On the flip side, if more people are using software than you have licenses for, it will trigger a penalty during your next software license audit. Or, if your remote workforce uses licensed software on their unsecured home internet, your network and the software are at risk of being hacked.
The good news is there are a plethora of SAM tools out there specifically designed to help you get in control – and stay in control – of your assets. And every manufacturer believes they make the best software asset management tools for ITAM. But how do you choose the best tool for your needs?
First, Let’s Define Software Asset Management Tools
According to Gartner, software asset management tools are “products that help optimize software and SaaS spend while supporting the automation of tasks required to maintain compliance with software license and SaaS subscription use rights. SAM tools provide in-depth analysis and management of software assets by decoding software license entitlements, automating the collection of software consumption data, establishing vendor-specific effective license positions (ELP), governing software assets, optimizing software value, and sharing information with other tools and stakeholders.”
In layman’s terms…
The best software asset management tools keep you and your team out of hot water. But choosing the right tools for your organization is the challenge. The last thing you need is to ask for money to purchase a tool, then have to go back and beg for more budget to replace it.
The 4 Questions You Must Answer To Purchase The Best SAM Tools For Your ITAM
There are a ton of SAM tools out there to choose from – in fact, Gartner has a list of over 75 SAM tools on their website! But, unless you have the time and bandwidth to examine every listing and read every review to find the best software asset management tool for your needs, their list isn’t very helpful.
To make the process less painful, I’ve compiled a list of four questions you must answer before going through the sometimes arduous process of choosing the best software asset management tools for your needs:
- Do you already own the best software asset management tool – but don’t realize it?
Many service management ticketing systems (ITSMs) have a software asset management tool built right in. It’s common for ITAM teams to ask for budget to purchase a new tool simply because they don’t realize the one they have can do the job. It’s possible SAM features just were never turned on.
- Do you know what you need to track?
There is a trend for SAM tool makers to sell add-on modules for more sophisticated reporting on specific software publishers. Same for tracking SaaS and Cloud details. Make sure you are making direct feature-set comparisons – read: apples to apples – to ensure you have the clearest price consideration and not over-purchase on features you won’t need.
- Do you know what it needs to talk to?
Can your value-add reseller (VAR) pass order and invoice data directly to your tool, or does it have to bounce through Purchasing? Can it properly ingest job, role, and department location from HR? Or does it make more sense to get that data from your Identity & Access Management team (IAM)? What about system command & control data from vCenter, JAMF, or Microsoft’s Endpoint Manager? And watch out if these connectors are treated as add-on features!
- Do you know how to get data out of it?
Pretty charts and canned reports are great, but unless you can get flat files out of it onto a chart or into a spreadsheet, or tie data to data like Tableau or Microsoft BI, you’ll miss out on spotting data patterns that could help you with your next software audit or license agreement true-up.
Now that you know what the best software asset management tools need to do for you, you can jump over to Gartner’s list of SAM tools and it will make much more sense to you.
Why Do Even The Best Software Asset Management Tools Fail?
When companies and institutions reach out to me for help, they’re dealing with issues caused by untrustworthy and unreliable data, despite having already invested in tooling. SAM vendors make all kinds of claims, such as, “Our tool will reduce waste and redundancy, help you tighten security, etc.” So, why do some of the best software asset management tools fail so frequently?
In most cases, software asset management tools were never properly implemented, are being used incorrectly, or (typically) both. Too often, we treat a management tool, SAM tools included, as a magic bullet, and we don’t take the time to do due diligence and look at what questions we do we need to answer, what data do we need to answer those questions, and how well we organize that data inside our tools.
So remember, always start with what you have before searching for a new tool. And make sure you answer all the questions above to choose the best software asset management tools for your ITAM and SAM needs.