There is no good progress for SAM on bad ground

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This post is also available in: German

Software Asset Management (SAM) is important. The amount and costs of licenses and subscriptions is often too much, sometimes even pointless. High, unplanned additional payments in the case of surprising audits regularly drive beads of sweat to the forehead of management. This is why SAM projects are all too often thrown out of the ground in the stressful daily business routine in order to eliminate these problems. Quickly sift through contracts, import all licenses into a tool, automatically measure installations – then you have the figures. And you know what to do. A lot of effort and not inconsiderable costs are gladly accepted. It’s for a good cause.


Road grip also depends on road quality

But who wants to drive this rally again and again? Actually, nobody does. In fact, many companies have the hope – or even the explicit goal – of creating something that ensures sustainable order. Transparency at the touch of a button, so to speak. This intention is really exemplary, but in fact it is not often achievable. The result is frustration on the part of those involved and irritation on the part of those responsible. One takes refuge in the supposedly simplest explanations – the tool is not good enough or the service providers have failed.  The real reasons, on the other hand, are usually insufficient specialist knowledge, missing processes or insufficient personnel resources.

Sometimes, however, it is simply an insufficient “ground”: insufficient master data.


The road for SAM is the master data

Master data is the foundation of any accounting and Software Asset Management is not different.


You start with the legal structure of the company. Which legal entities does the company have and how are they linked? Which shareholdings exist? Please don’t just look “downwards”. If, for example, a Microsoft subsidiary has concluded an “Enterprise Agreement”, this agreement applies to the entire company! It is therefore important to know which companies exist. This is the only way to classify and evaluate contracts accordingly.


Another element of the master data is the regional locations. Which ones are there and to which companies do they belong? Especially in the case of very distributed companies – possibly also abroad – the location can have a serious effect on the balancing of license inventories.

Cost Centers

Master data also includes cost centers. They are usually part of a SAM project. Unfortunately, they only have an internal effect when it comes to allocating software costs. They have no contractual obligations. Ultimately, it does not matter to a software manufacturer according to which structures a customer plans and controls its costs internally.


Personnel data should not be neglected. Especially against the background of the increasingly popular licensing of software according to persons instead of devices, this data dimension is becoming more and more important. Software-as-a-Service is the fuel of this movement.

So, which users are do really exist? Who is an employee, who is an external service provider? What are their respective areas of activity? Software development, research, administration? Which companies and which locations do they belong to? How can employees be clearly identified? Are the three “John Smith” in the Active Directory one and the same person? Behind which of the many thousands of user accounts is there really a human being? And do they all still work in the company?


Do ensure road liability

Questions about questions that need to be clarified. Not only for the current database. Only with a continuous update of this master data by suitable processes can one rely on the fact that the maintenance of stocks of computers and mobile devices, software installations, licenses and contracts can lead to reliable results.

Do your homework and take care of the master data. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find anyone who already maintains it. I know of many companies where Software Asset Management takes care of this important task. Why? Because the sustainable success of SAM depends so much on it. Make sure you are moving on a good ground!

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