Software asset tracking best practices


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Software is so important to the day-to-day operations and growth of any modern business that software asset management can help companies reach their measure license usage and maximize ROI. In fact, Gartner forecasts that IT spending will reach $4.4 trillion in 2022, with software projected to total $674.9 billion in 2022, and that IT services will grow 6.8% to reach $1.3 trillion.

This means the number of software licenses organizations own is continuously growing. Fortunately, companies have started to realize the benefits that software asset management (SAM) tools bring to them. The goal of software asset management tools is to make the world of managing licenses and SaaS subscriptions easier to understand. What follows are the software asset management best practices that sourcing, procurement, and IT managers can use while implementing or after they have started using a software asset management program.

Why implement software asset management?

As an organization grows, the number of its own software assets grows at an exponential rate and becomes harder to manage. Such assets depend on each other a lot and need a set of strict rules to govern them. This calls for the creation of a well-designed software asset management program. SAM is a core function of IT asset management, and its goal is to reduce IT costs and manual work while making the best use of your organization’s license portfolio assets.

A typical software asset management program involves reducing the risks that come with software licenses and creating an inventory of the software on all devices, in data centers, and in the cloud. It also includes evaluation and optimization of specialty and non-specialty software licenses, as well as making sure end users stay compliant.

Software asset management best practices

SAM best practices will help you figure out how to plan and implement a software asset management strategy, which may seem like a big job.

SAM tools will help management look at their software landscape, put in place new software solutions where needed, and keep track of all the licenses that come with buying software.

Below you can find a list of best practices you can use as guidelines for the organization’s software asset tracking and management.

  1. Support from senior management from software asset management program.
  2. Building the right software asset management team.
  3. Choosing the right software asset management tools.
  4. Measuring SAM success.
  5. Categorizing software assets and tracking asset usage.
  6. Recycling and optimizing software licenses.
  7. Implementing asset tracking software procurement policies.
  8. Creating and forecasting a software budget.

Let’s talk more about the eight best practices for managing software assets and how to use them in your business.

Support from senior management from software asset management program

A C-level executive should be in charge of your software asset management program. This ensures that the organization’s stakeholders and other key people who have a say in decisions are aware of your software asset management strategy. Most of the time, these people are not part of your department and might not understand why it’s important to test a separate program for SAM.

Getting the support and buy-in of executives can help a lot when implementing a SAM strategy in your organization. Engage them early in the process, make a strong business case that shows how cost savings will be made, and explain why a SAM strategy is needed to right-size the license inventory and optimize IT spend at the same time.

Building the right software asset management team

The next step is to put together a SAM team. Companies can hire a full software asset management team or software license consultants from outside the company. This process requires a dedicated team to run and see it through to full maturity.

Even though an in-house team is more expensive in the long run, they will share the company’s values and goals, and SAM can become a continuous process that changes as the business grows. There is also a “hybrid” option, which combines full-time employees with outside experts.

Choosing the right software asset management tool

There are many tools on the market that help organizations of all sizes manage their software assets, and finding one that fits your needs can be a long process. Make sure you ask yourself these simple questions before the selection process:

  1. Is this tool flexible? Can you integrate it into your IT environment?
  2. Is it scalable?
  3. Does it have a software asset discovery tool?
  4. How advanced are the tool’s features for managing software licenses? Does it include optimizing licenses, recycling/harvesting them, sending out reminders when contracts are about to end, and managing audit requests from vendors?
  5. How advanced are the tool’s software tracking and reporting features?

Measuring SAM success

Set up your first key-performance indicators to see how well your SAM strategy is working. This helps you tell stakeholders and the rest of the organization about your most important software asset management successes. Here are some things you can measure:

  • license utilization rate;
  • the number of unused software licenses as a percentage of the total number of licenses;
  • how many licenses the SAM team recycles periodically (measured against the total license inventory) and their cost.

Categorizing software assets and tracking asset usage

Use your software asset management tool’s discovery/probe and inventory features to make a list of all the software assets in your organization. This includes both open-source and licensed software, as well as software that has been customized. 

When you create virtual machines in your IT environment, you may end up with two copies of the same software. Keep in mind that software such as this is easy to miss. After making a list of all software assets, you can categorize them into groups.

Recycling and optimizing software licenses

By recycling and reallocating software licenses, your procurement team doesn’t have to buy new licenses, which cuts software costs. For example, when an employee leaves the company, the licenses allocated to that person can be reallocated to a new employee. In other situations, a user might install a piece of software but never use it. 

Recycling software licenses is common in IT organizations with a high levels of process control and maturity. In the case of expensive network licenses, push the boundaries and optimize the user/license ratio to the maximum. An optimal license to user ratio is four end users to one network license.

Implementing asset tracking software procurement policies

You right-size the organization’s software license inventory by knowing exactly which application is used, and how much and by whom. To get this data you need to implement software license management tools such as OpenLM and start tracking the assets the organization owns. As the license utilization is visualized via detailed reports, you are ready to implement software procurement policies.

By implementing the steps mentioned above, SAM teams will be able to figure out where policies are needed and who should be involved. During this stage, policies such as vendor lifecycle management policies and an SaaS renewal strategy can be put in place, both of which will set clear rules for how vendors and clients should work together and help automate renewals and updates.

Once these policies are in place, organizations can focus on the biggest benefits of their SAM strategy: value and transformation. License utilization data will inform the procurement team regarding what is needed and which licenses can be eliminated. Therefore, organizations can stop spending on software that isn’t being used.

Creating and forecasting a software budget

Lastly, each step of a software management asset strategy will help businesses plan and set budgets for software as their businesses change.

Many organizations waste a lot of money on software that isn’t used, so once a complete SAM process has been set up, it will be clear where usage and spending can be improved.

This will make it easier to plan software budgets and figure out how to optimize IT spend.


The essential step in implementing software asset management in your organization is to pick the right platform that supports all types of licenses – network, token-based, name user subscription, node-locked, dongle-based, etc. – and that connects the system to the company IT. This way, you can achieve your business goals much more quickly and easily. Contact OpenLM today and start optimizing your software license portfolio!

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