One of the biggest headaches for a Software Asset Manager (and subsequently, all dependent stakeholders) is not receiving the necessary license information when software is procured.  Too many times employees are scrambling to find out what was ordered, why, who asked for it, and where it is!

The answers to these questions should be easily available, and they can be – if the details are requested and provided up front, when the purchase is made. To that end, I submit to you a case for the perfect PO.    

Here is what should be included in any software related purchase order.

1. Is this an initial purchase or a renewal of existing licenses/support?

If this is a renewal purchase, there needs to be a check in place to ensure that any differences in product type, metrics, or quantities are captured in your software inventory.  There also needs to be an explanation of changes that result in higher or lower cost. Conversely, if it’s an initial purchase, this becomes important later from a historical perspective. 

2. If this is a subscription or renewal, what are the start and end dates of service?

Your SAM team can’t tell you what version you’re entitled to if they don’t know the effective dates of the license. Additionally, this is a necessary part of the license records when looking at compliance and audit-readiness.

3Is there an associated contract or agreement number?

This allows for accurate record keeping for the SAM team; it is an easy way to locate agreements when researching license terms and conditions, and it provides an easy reference if vendor engagement is needed. It also goes a long way to help with contract renewals when it comes time to negotiate, eliminating time spent on searching through endless emails and documents.

4. What specific products and quantities are being ordered? 

For example, a PO with one line item showing “Annual SAP Maintenance & Support” does not by any means give the full picture. Your SAM team needs to know the specific licenses being purchased/renewed along with the quantities and cost of each line item. If this is not feasible due to lack of resources, then at least the PO should include a reference to the quote - and the quote should be attached or its location identified.

5. What are the license metrics?

Each license should clearly state what the metric is. Nowadays there are too many products which offer different license metrics and your SAM team should not have to guess at which one has been procured. Obviously, this information is necessary to effectively administer the program and manage for compliance.

6. Instructions to send the ESD (Electronic Software Delivery) and deployment instructions to the SAM team 

This is a crucial but often overlooked detail. Just like any other corporate purchase, you need to make sure you received what you paid for. But more importantly, your SAM team needs to store the instructions, along with license keys or serial numbers in a secure place.  This ensures that the software is provided with governance and security to the right IT associates for deployment, which is key to managing compliance.

7. Who requested the software?

Your software asset managers need to know who to assign the licenses to, and who to reach out to if there are questions regarding the purchase detailsAnd inevitably, there will be a future question as to who requested the software and why.

The biggest impact you can have on your SAM program is accurate record keeping, and the most efficient way to do this is to have the relevant data captured up front - when the decision to purchase is made and is still fresh in everyone’s mind.

So, go ahead, schedule that meeting with your procurement team (you might want to supply the pizza), and you could be well on your way to a perfect software purchase.