What is Software Asset Management?
In a nutshell, software asset management is the process of assessing, procuring, maintaining, renewing, replacing, re-evaluating, and tracking all the different SaaS tools subscriptions or licenses in a company’s tech stack. In other words all the tasks and responsibilities that are necessary to achieve the SaaS management goal, which is to have the best software solution for the team and a clear understanding of all the software used by the employees within an organization in order to improve productivity and efficiency within budget.
Although the goal of SaaS management is very straight forward, many companies struggle with identifying the steps they must take to achieve it. On the other hand, if the steps have been identified, they oftentimes are not done correctly and many companies end up wasting a significant amount of limited resources.
Therefore, it is important to identify the different aspects of SaaS management that all companies, big and small, must keep in mind to succeed:
Software license management
Employee provisioning (onboarding and offboarding)
Let’s dig into them.
What are Software Asset Management Tools
Software asset management tools or IT asset management software are designed to facilitate all of or part of the tasks associated with Software Asset Management. There are a lot of different solutions available ranging from simple SaaS review sites all the way to SaaS app stores, procuring services and license managers.
Since there is such a variety in SAMT the most logical way to differentiate them is by the tasks they are geared toward facilitating. Whilst some basic tools only provide part of the solution to one of these tasks, other products aim to provide an (almost) complete solution.
IT Procurement Tools
There are many different types of tools designed to help procurists make the right IT and SaaS purchase decisions. They are often referred to as software vendor management tools.
At a basic level there are free tools which provide comprehensive reviews (such as capterra and G2) on almost all the SaaS tools available, which procurists can leverage to both discover and explore tools to purchase as well as evaluate them. Additionally, they are deal websites such as Appsumo, which help businesses find great deals for free and without hassle.
Although these tools provide an excellent free service, they obviously have limited value when making large and complex procurement decisions, and are geared towards very small businesses.
Another solution available in this market are the software consulting providers (such as gartner.com of vendr.com). Although these companies oftentimes market themselves as SaaS providers themselves, their business model is typically closer to that of traditional consulting business. They offer to find the best Software solution for their clients, renegotiate contracts, and generally assist in the procurement process. In return they charge either a monthly retainer, a participation in the savings they generate or a kickback from the provider they recommend, oftentimes a combination of all of them. This is equally where the main problem with these types of services exist. Depending on the exact and often complex compensation structure, the service provider may be incentivized to not act purely on behalf of the customers best interests, but for instance recommend the tools whose providers will give them the largest kickback or generate the largest savings, irrespective of the quality it provides. In some cases these companies will also offer a type of license management software as it synergizes well with the services they offer.
The third SaaS procurement solution available are SaaS app stores such as onetool, which offer a very wide range of functionality including for SaaS procurement. Similarly to tool review sites they have a large number of saas providers on their platform procurists can browse and read reviews about. Generally only tools that have a certain threshold in quality are represented on app stores which makes the exploration process simpler. Additionally, App Stores usually have featured recommendations in each category. Similarly to software consultants as well, app stores usually provide a high level of customer support which given their products means free consultation on the best tools, similar to the ones provided by software consultants. Furthermore similarly to the discounts software consultants negotiate on behalf of their customers, app stores provide significant discounts to the tools they offer as well. The main downside to app stores is that not all tools are represented on them, and hence for certain niche businesses the right solution may not necessarily be provided. Read more about IT procurement here.
License Management Tools (License Managers)
License management also referred to as Software Inventory Tracking or just Software Tracking is one of the most important tasks associated with software asset management. In short, license management is determining who uses which license and when and keeping a record of this. License management tools are either independent tools, or provided as part of the functionality of a comprehensive Software asset management tool.
License managers are primarily dashboards, where IT managers can see an overview of all the SaaS tools they are currently using, how many licenses they are paying for when their next billing date is as well as the total price of their invoice.
Whilst basic license managers are little more than fancy calendars where this information is tracked manually, more sophisticated license managers update this information automatically, and even provide a single invoice. High end license managers also provide exact tracking and analytics of which tools are used when by which employees. This allows us to assess how useful tools are and whether they are worth the money or should be discarded/replaced. Tracking trends and developments in license use over time may also be valuable as a way to negotiate larger discounts, for instance if the number of licenses has been growing significantly over time. Read more about software license management here.
Implementation & Provisioning Tools
Provisioning tools help give users access to data repositories or grant authorization to systems, network applications and databases based on a unique user identity. SaaS implementation & provisioning tools represent the most complex software asset management tools as they require integration with the third party providers. Provisioning tools essentially allows admins to give and take employee access to different tools easily in one dashboard. With an single-sign-on (SSO) system, the admin can easily control which tools the SSO credentials can access. An SSO saas login portal is a provisioning tool which allows users to access all their tools in one dashboard. Users can then open the software they need in the click of a button. This makes provisioning much easier as admins can preselect all the necessary software directly to their employees SSO portal when onboarding and similarly remove them all when offboarding. Read more about single-sign-on here.
What are the benefits of using Software Asset Management Tools
There are a range of benefits associated with using SAMT. SAMT makes compliance easier as companies know which licenses their organization is using. This means that they can avoid expensive fines in case of a software audit but also crucially only use the software they are actually utilizing. According to a study conducted by 1E.com back in 2016 titled “The Real Cost of Unused Software”, companies waste 37% of their software budget in unused tools! This means that businesses can also optimize their processes, by saving time on provisioning and implementing. IT systems administrators can save significant amounts of time using SAMT by easily being able to manage software license bills as well as implementing new tools and allocating the licenses to the team (provisioning).