Moving beyond Software Asset Management and ISO 197701-1 to License Optimization

by: Jeff Jones

Having worked with 100’s of corporations over the last few years, I have noticed something interesting about the software asset management (SAM) space, and specifically the software asset management maturity model.  While much has been written about the software asset managment maturity model, I have noticed an interesting trend:  vendors, corporations and analysts either discuss “software asset management basics” – usually Inventory and Tracking, or they discuss the “Pot of Gold” at the “end-of-the-rainbow”:  dynamic software asset managment and/or “optimization”. 

It is this second area I find most interesting, because this tends to be where you get to the nexus of business value and software.  But what I find interesting is almost every software asset management vendor, and every corporate consumer trying to get there, really discuss this level in different terms.  There are papers on “Optimizing Business Processes” and “Optimizing Infrastructure”.   And there are long, consultative “Best Practice” approaches to combining software asset management, ITIL, ISO 19770-1, and custom methodologies to “optimize”.

But interestingly enough, not many focus on optimizing software usage, as it relates to licensing, and the monetization of the value of your application assets.  And shouldn’t that be one of the most important factors?  Isn’t the use of software applications the only true way to start to measure business value of software?  And if you aren’t measuring business value, how can you “optimize” it?  The Operations Management and Interfaces category of ISO 19770-1 touches on this, but doesn’t map this back to license entitlements and cost in enough detail to help optimize the software mixture.

Then combine this with the fact that most of the software asset management literature, when it does discuss “Application Usage”, focuses on Desktop software only.  Not much focuses on high cost and high value software applications.  Things like SAP or Oracle; or very expensive niche applications like Cadence, Synopsis, MATLAB or AutoCAD; or more difficult licensing models like concurrent users or custom corporate-specific metrics.  From what I have seen, these typically make up 75% or more of the typical software budget, depending on the industry.

To really complete the software asset management optimization stage, it seems that we as software asset management professionals need to add more detail on Application Usage Management and Software License Optimization into the process.   We at Flexera have been doing this for a long time with our customers, but see a need to extend the current software asset management maturity model and other standards to include the Best Practices around monetization of business value of application software.

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