However, back on earth, applied knowledge is required to ensure that contract and license data is put to good use, not merely scanned and saved in a SharePoint folder for future reference. The licenses themselves, including terms and conditions of use, must be imported into the SAM Suite, so that it can track the value of the hard-won cash a company has parted with to buy the software in the first place.
Typically, this will involve populating an excel spreadsheet template with specific values under specific columned data – with the template having been provided by the SAM Suite vendor – so that the data can be imported into the SAM Suite. Very mature organisations may work with their software publisher or resellers to automate the process – perhaps the reseller pre-completes the license spreadsheet with license purchases on a monthly basis, or automated reports generated from a software publisher website are combined with an automated upload into the SAM suite, or perhaps even an integration between the SAM Suite and publisher systems. The answer is likely to be different for every software publisher and every license model.
If you are implementing a SAM Suite from scratch, or the licenses are being purchased under a new contract, two templates will need populating: one for contracts and the other for the actual licenses that have been purchased. A field on the latter will ensure alignment between the contract and the licenses in the system. Note that some licenses might not have a governing contract, and so alignment between license and contract is not needed here.
If your spreadsheet has the ability to accommodate the scope of the license e.g., which jurisdictions or which entities are entitled to use the license, then this should also be included in the upload.
Bear in mind that not all licenses and entitlement are amenable to the rigid structure of a spreadsheet. For instance, unusual license models or one-off agreements with vendors may need to have a new license model created manually within the SAM suite. Licenses that grant rights to use based on 3rd order or business focused metrics e.g., number of transactions, may need to be entered into the SAM suite manually if the template and upload process don’t recognise the particular type of metric.
A top-tip: If your contract negotiation team have gone above and beyond with their latest negotiation, then it might be that those esoteric terms and conditions need modifying post-importation. A case in point: I knew one organization (due to their considerable size) which successfully negotiated with one of the big 4 vendors that licenses were deemed to be consumed based solely upon “use” – not “installation and/ or use” as is typical with software vendors. Those kind of T&Cs will require post-importation massaging – and if you can’t get the SAM Suite to automate their application, a manual step may need to be weaved into your license pool management and license compliance and verification processes to ensure you can track consumption and compliance of these licenses.
And remember! Purchase Orders are not evidence of rights to use – they are merely commercial expressions of intent to purchase software. DO NOT rely on purchase orders as your sole means of evidence of rights to use.
What else to tell you? Let’s say you make a mess of the first importation of entitlement, but a slight tweak in a box on that excel spreadsheet will have everything just-so. DO NOT re-import that corrected spreadsheet without first deleting the former importation. Your SAM Suite will not (typically) overwrite the data, duplicating the importation – granting you twice the entitlement you should have access to.
Finally, when software reaches its end of life, top-quality house-keeping will have you archiving the supporting entitlement if it no longer serves a purpose. That way, if errant copies of legacy software appear on the IT estate, the SAM suite can immediately flag these as removal candidates. It will also support a deeper dive into operations as to how retired software re-appeared.
Entitlement management, including importing it into the SAM suite is a core competency for every software asset manager. After all, if you don’t know what you own, then you can’t match it against what you use, with the result that you can’t optimise your licenses, wasting lots of cash, or worse, become non-compliant with all the consequences that entails!