The ITAM Review

News, reviews and resources for worldwide ITAM, SAM and Licensing professionals.

ARTICLE: Why SAM Projects Fail – Underestimating Software Recognition (Part 7/8)

This article has been kindly contributed by Phara McLachlan of Animus Solutions.

The ITIL Guide to SAM highlights several possible problems that may arise when implementing Software Asset Management projects. In this series we look at some of those issues and how organisations can address them using Phara’s hands-on experience.

Why do Software Asset Management projects fail?

Part One – Conflict with Decentralisation Culture
Part Two – Lack of Senior Management Support
Part Three – Lack of Clear Responsibilities
Part Four – Customized vs. Off-the-shelf SAM Software
Part Five – Poor Communication
Part Six – Lack of End User Support
Part Seven – Underestimating Software Recognition
Part Eight – Legal Requirements

In this part we take a look at the role of correctly identifying installed software in a successful SAM implementation.

Underestimating the effort required to identify installed software is a common failure point in SAM projects.

A new PC, fresh from your supplier with minimal applications will still have thousands of files installed. Best practice software asset management suggests that we should take a look at each one of those files to see if it represents an application we need to manage. A simpler alternative is to simply look at Add and Remove programs within the registry but this has its limitations.

The first challenge is to identify what is this application? Do I need a license for it? Is it part of a suite? what version is it? are there any specific terms and conditions pertinent to this installation? how many people can access it? and so on.

The results of software recognition from different ITAM technologies can vary significantly and
users should be cautious of any vendor that offers to ‘Recognise all applications automatically’.

Often there is a significant amount of effort in sifting through results, normalising the data (e.g. Microsoft, Microsoft Inc, Microsoft Limited etc) and deciding which applications need to be managed.

I would also recommend benchmarking the software recognition abilities of ITAM technology in a live environment before investing in any technology.

What are your experiences of software recognition in SAM projects?

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

One Comment

  1. As many organisations have already experienced, most software inventory

    tools on today’s market are excellent at scanning the network for hardware and software information. However, as mentioned above,

    manipulating this software information into a format that enables you to identify your licensable products is somewhat a black art.

    However, this is no longer the case!!

    Using a product called the Licence Dashboard (, organisations can

    now extend the software recognition process of most software inventory tools and provide further distilling of scanned software,

    highlighting the associated licence liability of all installed products.

    This type of transparency and control will not only

    prevent over deployment of software, but can also help reduce the overhead required to track and monitor its usage and liability.

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