As the digital age gathers pace, IT has become one of the key drivers of business ? the software employed by a company is one of its key assets, yet one that may often go unnoticed. Today, software is in place to power just about every aspect of business ?from communications, to accounting, to people management ? and businesses large and small are finding software is in fact an asset which is indispensable in running their operations.
The increasing reliance of businesses on software has introduced a new dimension of critical importance ? Software Asset Management. It is through prudent software management of software as an asset that companies can maximize on their software and ensure reliability, efficiency and accuracy of their operations. Poor management of this asset can have costly consequences in terms of productivity and efficiency ? with the unchecked use of pirated software being the most dangerous aspect.
Software asset management, or SAM, is a vendor neutral recognized business process. The benefits that SAM provides a customer are knowledge of and control over their software assets, cost reduction and increased security. SAM actually helps businesses maximize their IT investments. They can track and manage their software assets, track use and deployment of their software, manage licensing agreements, and establish company policies to help prevent security and compliance issues. While SAM enables companies to increase employees` productivity and efficiency, it also enables cost control by helping a company budget software as a separate expenditure. This means companies can plan how much they spend on the acquisition and support of this software, including the hardware needed to make it work as well as the cost of staff training, such as to avoid spending excessively or encounter unexpected costs.
When going through a SAM review, company owners will be able to identify exactly how many licences a company has for each software title, so i.e. instead of acquiring more you may re-deploy software from department to department and save money. SAM also benefits company owners to become compliant and fully licensed for the software they are using in line with intellectual property laws. However, one must be aware that the issue of pirated software does not end with legal penalties alone. In fact, a far more dangerous consequence is that such software endangers business as they have a higher chance of failing, exposing computers to virus attacks that can destroy valuable company data which can affect an organization`s entire network, thus the repercussions of using illegal software cost companies more in the long run. The use of illegal software also automatically cancels any recourse one may have to warranties and support. SAM gives a company the ability to coordinate, and thus decrease the cost of upgrades because you know how much software is being used and the necessary hardware adjustments. Backup and recovery systems are also easier to maintain when it`s clear what software goes where. This dramatically reduces support costs when standardizing desktops where possible as well as give you the opportunity to enjoy volume discounts and keep your business in pace with industry standards and technology improvements.
By standardizing software versions, file-sharing issues are reduced and communication is easier. Users can work together seamlessly which can lead to increased productivity ? and productive workers are happy workers. Information provided by SAM can help managers and employees more easily justify licensing the software they need to do their jobs, which can improve productivity, ensure deadlines are met and increase overall job satisfaction.
Cost control through SAM also accounts for saved time when it comes to training your staff and to optimize software deployment. Because upgrades and changes can be automatically identified, this saves considerable time and reduces hassles for both the IT department and the employees who are using the software. Your employees can stay informed about software deployment all year round, and thus can be more productive and better prepared. Generally software asset management consultation encompasses four steps ? cultivating a conscientious work culture, knowing what you have, comparing software against licences and continuous supervision. Step one involves making all employees understand the value of software, learn the difference between legal and illegal users, and pledging their commitment to the proper use of software. This includes aspects such as centralizing purchases, ensuring that software purchase requests are in writing. Each company should also know exactly what software it needs to ensure effective and efficient purchasing and use of software.
Knowing what you have is essential to determine what your future needs are. By taking such inventory, companies can root out software they don`t need as well. It is suggested that an inventory check should be done once a year, as assets grow with time. Once the inventory is complete, companies must compare the software that`s installed to what`s allowed under the terms of their licences. For example, simply having an original CD for the software does not mean it can be installed on as many computers as you like.
Many businesses do not effectively use their software licences for maximum benefit to their business, mainly due lack of awareness. After a SAM review, a SAM qualified account manager can assist companies to determine what licensing model matches their requirement to be compliant.
Channa de Silva, Enterprise Group Leader of Microsoft Sri Lanka said, `Our objective is to ensure that our customers obtain the maximum benefit from their software. Through the SAM process, we assist them to select the best and most cost effective licensing model that suits their business requirements as well as ensure they abide by the regulations`.
`Microsoft is ready to provide the tools and resources that help customers with their SAM ? we are currently working closely with our customers and partners to implement a comprehensive SAM process. We recently held a SAM boot camp in association with TechBiz to train a selected group of partners to become qualified SAM account managers. This boot camp enabled us to train these partners and gear them to deliver international quality SAM services to local customers.`