SAM offers CIOs a way to manage licensing programs

The current climate of company mergers and downsizing is putting CIOs under pressure to keep the lid on software costs which now account for nearly a third of the average IT budget. Add to the mix software suppliers who are more determined than ever to make sure their customers pay for all the programs they use and software asset management (SAM) seems a no-brainer.

SAM, the process of bought and making sure they match up with the programs that staff actually use and the way they use them, not only heads off the unwelcome attention of software suppliers and their lawyers, but can also cut costs.

"If you are on top of your game you save money," confirms Bobbie Ttooulis of services and software firm Computacenter. "If you have proper SAM in place you are going to have your computing under control and can be pretty confident you are sweating your software assets effectively."

However, SAM is proving problematic for many companies. Some lack the will to invest in the process, while others are bogged down in turf battles over who should gather the data. Many are just struggling to understand how their licences work.

Finance departments are usually responsible for maintaining asset registers including software, while IT departments know how that software is deployed. "All too often the priority is tracking of physical assets and software is forgotten, so the information is not getting from IT to finance on how software gets used," says Karen Conneely of asset management software company Real Asset Management.

Despite the availability of databases to record information about licences and so-called discovery tools such as Centennial, Eracent and EasyVista, which dispatch agents to inspect systems and log the software they are using, many users still rely on spreadsheets to track their assets.