Software Asset Management (SAM) Software

How to find the best Software Asset Management (SAM) software & SAM tools to help automate the procurement and usage of software licenses while delivering on your enterprise IT goals.

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For IT managers and business owners, it’s essential to identify the status of your software and cloud services as well as the ownership of your software licenses. Without a tool to provide visibility of your software assets – whether on-premise, cloud, or mobile – licensing costs can begin to spiral out of control. The solution? Finding and deploying the best Software Asset Management (SAM) software for your IT processes.

In this guide to finding the best SAM tool, you’ll be able to highlight the importance of deploying software asset management software and understand the many benefits that it can provide. As well as using our 5-step buyer’s guide approach to finding the software management tool that is aligned with your enterprise IT requirements. Here’s what you can expect:

What is Software Asset Management (SAM) Software?

What Is Software Asset Management (SAM) Software?

In its simplest form, Software Asset Management (SAM) software provides the necessary tools to gain visibility into your organisation’s use of its IT assets. In particular, its purchasing and consumption of software.

One major benefit of deploying software asset management is the ability to automate otherwise manual tasks and quickly gather data in one single-architecture program. This includes the tracking of software and cloud services – whether on-premise, cloud, or mobile.

By enabling IT managers and their teams to track data regarding software procurement, consumption, license entitlements, compliance, and risk, businesses are therefore able to control and reduce their software spending. For most IT enterprises, a major contributor to excessive software spending is the cost of unused software licenses. In fact, unused licenses make up 38% of technology waste for companies without the use of SAM tools to provide visibility into their IT expenditure.

Although the focus of SAM software is primarily on tracking and monitoring software usage, the majority of software asset management tools also provide features to manage devices and hardware – similar to IT Asset Management (ITAM).

By automating IT tasks regarding the use of assets such as software licenses and hardware, SAM tools provide a wide range of benefits. Including:

A 5-Step Buyer’s Guide to Finding the Best Software Asset Management (SAM) Software

Finding software asset management software that is right for your IT processes depends on how you plan to utilise your SAM tool and your IT enterprise goals. To help find the best SAM software for your business requirements, we’ve put together a useful 5-step buyer’s guide for you to follow.

Why do businesses choose to deploy software asset management (SAM) software?

Identify Your Current IT Hardware and Software Assets

When starting your journey to finding the right SAM software, it’s important to understand your current IT estate. Ask yourself: What type of IT estate do you have? What size is it? How do you manage it – for example, a Fintech startup with ten employees might use infrastructure from AWS to run their servers. A large manufacturing company with on-premise hardware may require dozens of applications so that all departments operate successfully.

The following questions will help you understand the landscape of your software and hardware assets. You can also add or modify these questions to suit your requirements:

Identifying all of your current hardware and software assets can require a lot of time and resources. Here are four key points that may ease the process:

2. Develop Clear Short-Term and Long-Term Objectives for Your SAM Software

There are two types of objectives you can create when deploying SAM software: one is for IT and the other for IT and your wider business. We recommend the latter.

To help develop your short and long-term plans, here’re four key points that you may want to consider:

IT asset managers have two choices when it comes to license management: to save costs by under-licensing and therefore risking audit failures, or to over-license and stray clear of audit risks by spending unnecessarily on unused licenses.

However, neither of these choices are viable in the long term. Software Asset Management tools are specifically designed to help optimise your licenses. The added visibility and easier management help to reduce software waste and protect against audits with powerful reporting.

SAM tools are just one piece of the puzzle for audit management. IT asset managers will need to strategically use the tools at their disposals to ensure the best ratio between licensing and risk management.

3. Scan SAM Tools for Features and Capabilities That Will Help You to Deliver on Your Goals

Below are a few typical capabilities offered by a typical Software Asset Management solution:

What areas do IT asset managers want to improve in business?

4. Develop Clarity on How You Are Going to Use a SAM Tool to Optimise Your Enterprise IT

Effective Software Asset Management can help your business with optimisation by offering visibility, control, application, and risk management. Here are five key benefits that a typical SAM tool provides:

5. Follow Our Seven-Point Checklist to Help Choose Your SAM Tool

To make sure you choose the best software asset management solution for your business, we’ve listed seven-points that a typical SAM tool should offer:

  1. The Ability to Easily and Quickly Import Data From Current Systems

    Your chosen SAM software is going to need some existing data so that you have a starting point in understanding your software assets. This data may exist in your accounting software (from where you can import information on licenses bought), SCCM, or your current SAM tool. So we recommend you fully understand how your chosen SAM software imports data from current sources.


The key factor to understand is not whether a SAM tool imports data, as almost all do, but how easy it is to import the data. Some systems require extreme knowledge of excel or need inputs from support and professional service teams. Ideally, you should develop a detailed understanding of data import conditions and scenarios before you consider purchasing SAM software.

  2. Auto-Discovery Using Agent and Agent-Less Methods to Identify On-Premise Software Tools

    The ability to discover software assets automatically on your network with precision is a fundamental feature of a software and license management system. The speed and precision of discovery are vital to building your software management cadence. There are some well-known agent and agent-less methods to discover software assets on a network.

    But, scanning and finding software assets is only part of the discovery feature. Your SAM tool should have an inbuilt library of asset information to precisely understand software assets on your network.

  3. Understanding the Usage of and Access to Cloud-Based Software Apps

    Modern workplaces are now cloud-based. From accounting software to visitor management, almost all aspects of a workplace have cloud-based applications. Defence and classified industries still continue to use on-premise tools, but the trend is changing there too.

    Understanding the usage of cloud-based software apps can be difficult. It varies based on how the software vendor has set-up its cloud infrastructure. In some cases, software applications cross over from cloud-based access to on-premise data, which adds to the complexity. Developing a clear understanding of how cloud-assets are discovered and monitored is vital to your software management goals.

  4. Software Usage, Metering, and Optimisation

    Interlinked with the above points, we highly recommend understanding how your SAM tool is going to understand software usage and relate it to your budget and projects. This could be by users, location, or even technology.

    You should also know how it is going to help you to optimise your usage, spend, and workforce productivity.

    Monitoring usage, metering, and optimisation can help you to understand the parameters of your compliance levels as well as optimise costs on your software spend.

  5. Software Patch Management and Updates

    One of the most effective ways to drive cyber safety is to ensure your software is updated and patched. How your SAM software will enable you to mass update and mass patch your assets is vital to staying safe in fast-changing cyber environments.

  6. Reporting

    Software tools collect data and report converts into insight. Good IT managers then use that insight to take actionable decisions. We highly recommend that you understand the reports you need to drive your software management before purchasing a SAM tool. 

Capable SAM software will have the ability to inform and alert you to:

    • Compliance gaps and trends

    • Usage by users, location, and projects

    • Planned vs actual spend

    • Status of software updates

    • Discovery of assets on your on-premise and cloud infrastructure

  7. Vendor Compatibility

    Knowing that your SAM software vendor can provide the right capabilities and knowledge is essential. It’s also important that they are easily approachable. Getting to know the support team and the professional services team of your supplier before you purchase your tool helps to know if you will be looked after.

Knowledge Guides for Software Asset Management (SAM) Software Tools and Users

How to Prevent Software Licensing Audits for On-Premise & Cloud-Based Solutions

Software Audits cause reputational, financial and operational damage both for the IT Teams as well as the Company. Here is a practical guide to fix your software licensing audit issues.

Best Practices for Assigning IT Assets to Employees

Get to know the best practices to assign IT Assets to employees. Covers onboarding and offboarding processes. Will optimise your IT Inventory Management.

A Practical and Effective Guide to Patch Management

Get to know why the most common patch management methods are flawed and why you should take a human-tech approach to patch management.

What Is a CMDB and Its Role in Managing IT Assets

A technical view on the importance of CMDB for IT Asset Management. Covers the basics and highlights applications that are relevant for the modern IT teams.

How to Choose Between Agent and Agentless IT Assets Monitoring

Useful comparison between Agent and Agentless IT Discovery Options. Relevant for IT Analysts, Network Engineers and IT Managers.

Why Do the Best IT Teams Use SAM Software?

Know the top 5 reasons why the best IT teams use SAM Solutions.

How SaaS Has Changed How IT Executives Get Things Done

A contemporary view of how SaaS and BOYD have influenced ITSM and ITAM functions of modern IT Team.

Why Asset Discovery Is Essential for IT Businesses

Safeguard your assets, know why asset discovery matters – an insightful guide for asset managers.

How SAM and Employee Training Effectively Combat Cyber Attacks

Basic guide to secure your network against Cyber Attacks with Software Asset Management and Employee Training. Insightful and Practical Tips.

Software Asset Management (SAM) Software FAQs

What Is the Best Software Asset Management (SAM) Software?

Without a clear focus on your enterprise IT goals, finding a software asset management tool that is the right choice for your business can be difficult. For instance, you may decide to search the software market place for the term ‘best SAM software tools’. But, this term is subjective – what may be the best software asset management tool for one business may not necessarily be the best choice for your operations. When it comes to finding the right SAM software for you, you’ll want to consider factors such as:

  • Industry fit

  • Type of software (mobile, on-premise, or cloud)

  • Number of users and department

  • The metrics and license data you need to collect

  • The budget you have to spend

  • The assets that make up your IT estate (software, hardware, cloud services, etc.)

  • Vendor compatibility

What Is the Difference Between IT Asset Discovery and IT Inventory?

Once you have deployed your chosen software asset management solution, the first task for an IT asset manager is to begin identifying the business’s entire IT estate. This is achieved by utilising IT discovery and IT inventory, which are found in most typical SAM tools. But, although these two terms are often used interchangeably, they both refer to different stages of an IT asset management process.

  • IT Asset Discovery

    The discovery stage of an IT asset management program refers to the task of located all connected devices on your network and ensuring there are no blind spots.

  • IT Asset Inventory

    Inventory of your IT assets can only begin once the discovery process has been completed. Once complete, you can inventory each connected device and start collecting data regarding its configuration.

How Can SAM Software Mitigate the Threat of Shadow IT?

Shadow IT is a term used to describe the use of IT-related software and hardware that is used outside of and without the knowledge of a company’s IT department. Shadow IT can relate to all types of IT assets, including:

  • Hardware: Laptops, PCs, servers, mobiles, and IoT devices

  • Software: Off-the-shelf packaged software

  • Cloud Services: SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS

In recent years, shadow IT has become a significant issue due to the ease-of-access and consumerisation of cloud-based services. As well as posing a threat to the security of business and personal data, there are many risks involved with shadow IT. Including:

  • Data breaches

  • Lost data and information

  • Unexpected costs

  • Non-compliance fees

  • Loss of control and visibility

One of the most effective ways to reduce the possibility of shadow IT is to enlist the help of a software asset management tool. A key feature of SAM is its ability to allow organisations to track and monitor their IT inventory through asset discovery. This enables IT departments to manage all on-premise and cloud-based assets that are connected to the company’s network. Thus ensuring the risk of data breaches and unexpected costs do not impact the business.

How Can Software Asset Management Tools Be Used to Combat Cybersecurity Risks?

Without the right procedures and tools in place, there is an overwhelming risk of cybercrime impacting your business’s network security. Hackers actively seek weaknesses in a system and regularly attempt to break into a network’s back door. As a result, organisations will spend a fair chunk of their revenue on securing firewalls and malware protection tools to fend off the damage left by cybercriminals. In fact, by 2021, damages caused by cybercrime is estimated to reach a staggering $6 trillion (USD).

One major factor that can reduce this risk of criminal intrusion and enhance your network’s security, is the introduction of IT management tools. In particular, software asset management.

With typical SAM features such as asset discovery, software license management, life cycle management, and risk and compliance tracking, you’re able to reduce risks such as:

  • Employees using unapproved or unsupported software tools

  • Account logins having poor password protection

  • Removed accounts that are still active

  • Software that has failed to update

  • IT hardware that has been lost or stolen

How Can SAM Software Keep Businesses Compliant With the Terms and Conditions of a License Agreement?

Achieving software compliance refers to the correct use of software applications in a way that was agreed upon between the vendor and buyer when purchased. While also intending to meet government and professional standards.

A critical part of complying with the correct use of a software application is to ensure that the vendor’s terms and conditions are explained in a specific and digestible manner. Meaning there is no ambiguity as to what can and cannot be done with a particular product. Be sure to look out for typical terms and conditions found in a license agreement, such as:

  • Number of authorised devices/users

  • Fees and payment dates

  • Annual inspections

  • Verifications

  • Third-party users

  • Warranty information

As well as understanding the language of a license’s terms and conditions, it’s also important to take note of any penalties that you can incur for violating them. Typical penalties for not achieving software license compliance include litigation, voiding all licenses in use and future licenses, and paying heft unplanned fees.

But, this is where an effective SAM tool can help. With the use of a Software Asset Management system, you’re well on your way to keeping an organized and detailed database repository of license agreements that can be easily accessed. This helps to make sure you stay compliant while giving peace of mind if a software audit is actioned.

Why Is Software License Management Important for Businesses With Multiple Software Licenses?

Along with software license compliance, software license management is a subset covered in the umbrella of software asset management. It’s also one of the most important functions performed by an IT team.

Tracking the costs, compliance, and user access of just one or two software applications used in a business may be manageable. But, when it comes to managing multiple software programs, keeping track of license requirements can be overwhelming. That’s where effective Software Asset Management Software can help.

Whether directly installed on servers or accessed via a cloud service, all software used within a business will have a license attached to it. This means there are conditions to meet and compliance to uphold. It’s also important to remember that not all licenses will be the same. License types include:

  • Per-user

  • Per-device

  • Subscription

  • Network

  • Appliance

  • Client-server

  • Perpetual

No matter what type of licenses you have, proper management of all software is critical. Without it, businesses face risks such as litigation and hefty fines. With software license management, though, the benefits are vast. You’re able to:

    • Increase cybersecurity

    • Stay compliant

    • Optimize employee usage

    • Reduce costs of underused software

    • Centralize and track purchases

    • Keep on top of vendor policies