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ITSM and SAM are the Yin and Yang of IT

In companies, Software Asset Management (SAM) and IT Service Management (ITSM) sometimes live their own lives separate from each other. Usually, ITSM is busy and focused to serve their users the best possible way. On the other side, SAM tries to sort out if software licensing is correct or at least to ensure that financial risks and overspending are under control. In my professional career, I have seen and talked to customers that struggle in both disciplines to succeed. In some cases, SAM did not even exist.

What Chinese Philosophy tells us

Where is the problem? That should be obvious! ITSM without effective SAM is like Yin without Yang. While  SAM without effective ITSM is Yang without Yin.

Yin and Yang represent dependency and interrelationship between two forces. Either one of them cannot perform without the other. According to Chinese philosophy, they have to be balanced and considered as a whole. In Wikipedia, you may find a compelling description, saying that: “Yin and yang can be thought of as complementary (rather than opposing) forces that interact to form a dynamic system in which the whole is greater than the assembled parts”.

ITSM is a State Machine

Let us come back to ITSM and SAM. Service Management is dedicated to moderate and dominate a dynamic system of technology, users and processes to support the business of the company. Having that said, you may understand ITSM as mastering the constant changes that happen. Predictable changes as well as unforeseen alterations. Consequently, the key to success in this mission is to know about both desired and current state. In a high-level view, we may understand ITSM as a “state machine” that drives the entire organization forward in a predictable way.

SAM is a State Repository

Where is the point making SAM join that world? Well, Software Asset Management is the level of understanding the current state. This is because it is explaining the status of all configuration assets and their relationships within the organization.

  • Firstly, it collects many data points documenting the whole “system” of an organization.
  • Secondly, it consolidates and analyses the current state in order to understand its implications regarding financial matters.
  • Thirdly, it supports strategic and operational decisions providing resilient information paying back your investments.


Did you already get the point? IT Service Management requires a valid description of the organization to handle changes well. SAM needs valid records of all changes that occur to update the documentation of the organization. It is like Yin and Yang. One cares for the change of a current state, the other cares for a new state from a change.

Understanding the dependency and interrelationship between ITSM and SAM explains two essential points:

  1. Operational processes in ITSM for managing incidents, problems and changes must interact with SAM processes.
  2. Both, ITSM and SAM need to share the very same data to perform successfully.

It must be acknowledged that it is good practice for organizations to support that the Yin and Yang of IT come together. In regard of establishing effective processes as well as using a tool-set that supports with joint information storage for both, IT Service Management and Software Asset Management.

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