Software Asset Management

software asset management guide
What is SAM?

Software Asset Management, or SAM, is a best practice and process to help your organization optimize your technology investments. Knowing what you have, acquiring only what you need, and using your software assets effectively at every stage of their life cycle are strategic business practices that businesses of all sizes should employ to realize great benefits. Learn how these benefits include cost savings, enhanced security, enhanced employee productivity and satisfaction, and more.

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Business considerations

SAM can help businesses manage risks, control costs, and gain a competitive advantage.

Mergers and acquisitions

As organizations merge, they acquire a whole new set of software assets. SAM can help reconcile what your business has, what it needs, and what it may have too much of after a merger or an acquisition.
Volume License Transfer Sheet
Perpetual License Transfer Form

Sarbanes-Oxley compliance

SAM can help customers develop Sarbanes-Oxley corporate reporting by helping build software asset inventories, and by enhancing application change management and software depreciation models.

IT governance

Internal controls for software assets can provide reliability in financial reporting, effectiveness and efficiency in operations, and compliance with applicable laws and regulation.

SAM Partners

SAM Partners can help you navigate the complexities of SAM. SAM Partners are specialized consultants who can help you manage and track your software in order to develop greater software efficiency.

If you are ready to start your SAM efforts, but you need a SAM Partner to help you get started, you can search the Microsoft SAM Partner listings to find a SAM Partner near you.

Further Information

For more information on Software Asset Management, visit to view or download a copy of the SAM Optimization Kit. The kit includes a wealth of helpful information, including further insight into the benefits of SAM, software assessment tools, white papers, resources, and tips on choosing a SAM partner.

Step by step

    Step 1: Perform a software inventory.

    This is the first step to understanding your software assets. There are two main techniques to perform a software inventory: manual and automatic.

    Step 2: Match software to licenses.

    Now that you know what software is installed on your company's PCs, it is time to match the software with the licensing documentation. Use our Microsoft Volume Licensing Services (MVLS) an online reporting tool that provides a confirmation of your license purchases and gives you an accurate report of licenses purchased to date.

    Step 3: Review policies and procedures.

    Establishing and following good policies and procedures for software use and license acquisition is a vital part of the entire SAM process. It's critical that your company have its policies and procedure in place. If you already have this documented, now is a good time to review and update them as necessary.

    Step 4: Develop a SAM plan.

    The final step in the SAM process is to develop a plan of action: Create a plan, analyze software needs, set up software training, and determine an inventory schedule.
software asset management guide
What is SAM?

As these case studies reveal, SAM has proven beneficial to many companies. Some have saved upwards of fifteen to twenty percent in their overall IT budgets and experienced significant savings in procurement and administrative costs. In Addition, SAM has brought about less downtime for employees, fewer helpdesk issues, faster inventory responses, and lower labor costs. See how SAM benefited two U.S. customers below.

Daifuku America

Struggling with discrepancies with software purchases and license management, Daifuku looked to SAM for help. Daifuku America streamlined licensing agreements and procurement, improved IT management, and reduced costs through SAM Assist. See the complete Daifuku America Case Study.

Five Star Airport Alliance

Experiencing significant growth, Five Star Airport Alliance saw the need for a SAM engagement. This resulted in an improved inventory process, updated SAM policies, and the selection of an optimal licensing program. See the complete Five Star Airport Alliance Case Study.

To see additional SAM case studies from around the world click here

SAM Step 1: Perform a software inventory

Technology Inventory Tips

You can perform a manual inventory by checking the hard disk of each computer and recording the information in a report. To start, view the Add or Remove Programs screen on each computer. See Sam Step-By-Step for more info.

You can use a software inventory tool to perform an automatic inventory of your company's computers and servers. The Software Inventory and Asset Management Tools catalogue contains a searchable list of these types of tools. In addition, you can use the Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer (MSIA) to determine which major Microsoft tools are installed. These automated tools help to simplify the software inventory process.

You can use MSIA or a Software Asset Management (SAM) tool to scan computers that are on a network. You can also scan each non-networked computer (stand-alone). Most SAM tools automatically generate software inventory reports. There are example reports available in the Downloadable Documents section. If you use such a tool on stand-alone computers, you must install the tool on each computer.

After you've taken inventory all of your organization's computers, you can combine the information into one master report. This report will be useful in the next step of SAM and as a reference for all future SAM work.

SAM Step 2: Match software with licenses

Microsoft Volume Licensing

Finding licensing documentation

After you know what you're looking for, how do you find it? The first step is to contact the person(s) responsible for new software acquisition in your company.

  • If you have a centralized purchasing department, start there.
  • If each department is responsible for their own software acquisition, get in touch with the department managers.
  • Your information technology (IT) department might have additional documentation such as software manuals and original product CDs.

If your company participates in one of the Microsoft Volume License Programs, you can visit special Web sites to access your license documentation.

  • If you have an Open License agreement, visit the secure eOpen site.
  • If you have a Select License or Enterprise Agreement, the Microsoft Volume Licensing Services site contains all of the information you need.

If you still have difficulty in locating your license information, contact your resellers for help.

After you have found all of your license documentation, store it in a safe place (off-site if possible). If your company decides to keep license documentation onsite, use of a fire-proof, waterproof, lockable cabinet or safe is recommended.

After you have collected all of your company's license documentation, record the information in a report. Then compare this report to the software inventory report you prepared in SAM Step 1. You could even use the same summary report used in Step 1 for this comparison. It should be easy to see where your company is over-licensed, under-licensed, or both.

Software Installed
Product NameVersionTotal InstallsTotal Licenses OwnedLicense Excess or Deficiency

If your company is over-licensed, software assets are going to waste. The software may be installed on additional PCs until the number of licenses equals the number of installs.

If your company is under-licensed, now is the time to acquire additional licenses through an authorized Microsoft software reseller.

SAM Step 3: Review policies and procedures

Software Licensing Compliance

Sometimes different departments unknowingly order the same software titles. Centralizing software acquisition can help your company save money. Centralizing software acquisition makes it easier to take advantage of volume license savings.

A centralized acquisition system can also help your company:

  • Stay organized by keeping all licenses and agreements in one central location.
  • Reduce costs by purchasing the correct type of license.
  • Allocate resources efficiently by easily matching software budgets with actual spending.
  • Maximize software value by potentially re-using or redistributing software to other departments.

Note: Please refer to the terms in your license agreement before transferring software.

Your software acquisition policy can achieve these goals by documenting these policies:

  • Clearly delegate and document responsibility and accountability for acquiring new software and keeping records.
  • Acquire software only from a reputable reseller.
  • Always keep the evidence of license documentation (original CDs, Certificate of Authenticity, End User License Agreement, original user manual, and sales receipt) in a centralized and safe location.
  • Track and update the software inventory on a regular basis to help ensure proper licensing.

The following downloadable templates can help you create your company's software acquisition policy.


Software acquisition policy template

It's important to be prepared for worst-case scenarios. A disaster recovery plan includes the procedures your company can follow if disaster strikes. Your disaster recovery plan should include information about protecting and restoring your systems and software. Items to cover are:

  • Performing regular system backups and sending copies of some of the backup tapes offsite.
  • Storing backup copies of all software CDs either in a fireproof, waterproof, lockable cabinet or off-site.
  • Keeping all license documentation either in a fireproof, waterproof, lockable cabinet or offsite (if you need the information to remain onsite, make copies and keep the originals offsite).

By outlining procedures to recover software after an unforeseen disaster, you will know exactly how to respond if it happens. It's an important precautionary step that can prove invaluable.


Software disaster recovery plan template

To ensure that new software is added to your company's software inventory, develop a series of steps that employees should follow when the new software arrives.

The steps should cover:

  • Storing original documentation, including the bill of lading.
  • Storing the original packaging and media.
  • Updating the software inventory report or database.

The software check-in process is often overlooked but is an easy way to make sure your software inventory remains accurate. You'll help prevent your company from buying software it already owns.


New software check-in checklist

The software use policy should cover your company's rules for downloading, installing, and using software titles.

To institute a software use policy, you should:

  • Review the terms and conditions for each license to ensure proper usage.
  • Set up a process for authorizing software installs (that is, assign one person to either install software or record software installations).
  • Monitor all Internet and downloading activities.
  • Keep terms and conditions in an easily accessible location for all employees.

It's important that all employees receive the software use policy and understand what they can and cannot do with the company's software and hardware. You'll help keep your systems free from viruses, reduce the number of support calls, and keep your software inventory up-to-date.


Software use policy template

SAM Step 4: Develop a SAM plan

Software Asset Management Plan

Before moving forward, you may want to perform the following tasks:

  • Standardize software titles so that employees all have the same versions.
  • Centralize software purchasing to keep it under control and organized.
  • Retire obsolete workstations and software.
  • Create a software inventory database or spreadsheet to keep track of software licenses.

Create a software inventory database or spreadsheet to keep track of software licenses.

If your company has the resources available, you might wish to set up training for specific software titles. Training might be especially valuable for new software titles that have never previously been used at your company. Proper training helps ensure that employees get the most from their new software, which can result in fewer service calls.

To reduce support costs

  1. Limit the number of applications and devices your support staff must support by standardizing applications and systems whenever possible.

  2. Avoid custom in-house solutions if possible—the support overhead is generally greater for custom applications than for prepackaged software. In addition, with prepackaged software your support staff can contact the vendor if issues arise—they have no one to fall back on for applications created in-house.

  3. Encourage your staff to find ways to automate any repetitive tasks that they perform. This gets them thinking more directly about the tasks they do and can result in an astonishing accumulation of saved time. Just make sure to document any automated task and set up a procedure for checking up on it regularly.


Tips on reducing support costs

Keep software safe.It's important to make sure that all licensing documentation and at least one copy of each of software title and version are protected in a safe place. A limited number of employees should have access to the software to help protect against possible misuse or theft.

Create a software and hardware map.Knowing what software is installed on which machines and knowing where they are located throughout your organization can be very helpful, especially for your support team. This information can be included in a software inventory database, created in a separate spreadsheet, or mapped out in a Visio diagram that shows the location of each machine, the user at that machine, and the software installed on that machine.


Software and hardware spreadsheet template

Analyze Software Needs
  1. It's important to determine which software titles your company needs for business purposes. Work with key people in each department to clarify what software their employees really require in order to get their jobs done.
  2. In addition, ask employees what software they need and what they aren't using. Follow up with employees on a yearly, twice-yearly, or quarterly basis. Also assess employees' skill sets to determine if their job competencies reflect their software needs.
  3. After this analysis, you can retire all software not used for business purposes and provide employees with software they might require for their jobs.



Inventory Schedule

Determine how often you will perform regular software inventories to keep your information up-to-date. The schedule should be determined by the size of your company, purchasing habits, and growth rate. Certain Software Asset Management tools continuously monitor software installations on networked PCs and provide software inventory reports in real time.

Even with such advanced SAM tools, it is important to perform periodic spot-checks on software inventory. Spot checks can be performed on a random sample of specific PCs or for a few specific software titles. Determine a threshold of error for these spot checks—if the difference between the software inventory report and the spot check is significant it might be wise to perform a full software inventory.

After you've completed all of the SAM steps, you'll know what you own, acquire only what you need, and get the most from your software assets. Congratulations!

All midsized business customers with an Enterprise Agreement nearing an anniversary date are qualified to receive a complimentary Software Asset Management (SAM) assistance service called SAM Assist for True-Up.

The True-Up process is your annual chance to take a step back and actively manage your assets. Take an inventory of all the qualified desktops, users, and processors you have added to your organization over the past year, and find out what you have, what you’re missing, and what redundancies you may eliminate.

Through the SAM Assist for True-Up program, a Microsoft Certified Partner with a SAM specialization can guide you through the True-Up process, helping you save time and resources, control costs, and lessen business and legal risks. With this complimentary license inventory and reconciliation analysis, you can:

  • Optimize the use of your existing licenses by acquiring only the software and licenses you actually need.
  • Eliminate waste, overlap, and redundant licenses throughout your organization.
  • Lower the long-term costs associated with licensing and maintaining a software library.
  • Increase productivity by freeing your IT staff from the time it takes to complete the True-Up process.

Talk to a TeleSAM Advisor today. Call 1-866-606-3749 now, or e-mail to schedule your SAM Assist.

Get tips and tools to help you perform a software inventory

Access your True Up resources here

Read the full Daifuku case study

Terms and Conditions

*Offer good only to Enterprise Agreement customers in the United States through June 30, 2010. Government and education customers are not eligible for this offer. This offer is valid only for a SAM engagement administered by Microsoft Certified Partners with a SAM specialization. This offer is nontransferable and not redeemable for cash.

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