The first IT project I worked on was to upgrade all company PCs to a newer model, a newer OS and a newer version of Office (yes, all at the same time)! Before the new PCs could be built, we had to confirm the software needed for each employee. Our team’s approach to this introduced me to the concept of the Master Software List, which has stayed with me as a necessary part of SAM ever since.

It’s a simple concept - a list of all software titles/versions in the environment, categorized by type and function, identified as approved or not, commercially licensed or freeware, and with a file path to install/deployment instructions.

We developed the list to check against individual PC software inventories – to identify software which needed further review or testing for compatibility with the new systems/software. But as with all great ideas, it became so much more.

The Master Software List is an invaluable resource for effective Software Asset Management. How many times have you asked, or been asked the following questions?

  • What exactly does this software do?
  • Has the software been tested/approved for our environment?
  • Does the software require a license purchase?
  • Are there other software products in the environment which provide the same function?
  • How is the software deployed?
  • Who pays for the software?
  • Who, or which departments, are the primary users of the software?
  • What is the cost or risk of deployment?
  • How is compliance managed?

Of course, there are many SAM tools out there that can help answer some of these questions, but it requires due diligence and oversight to maintain such a list for your company. Ownership should lie with your SAM team – to ensure accurate, up to date information, but collecting the necessary details is a team effort.

A SAM Governance team is an ideal way to approach this. At the very least, the following partners should contribute, for reasons noted.

  • Security – to ensure the software has gone through a risk assessment and approval process
  • IT Desktop/Server Support – to test for compatibility and documentation of deployment method
  • Business Owner – to understand how the software is used, and who is allowed to use it
  • Legal – to understand terms and conditions of use

Maintaining a Master Software List obviously requires that no software gets deployed without going through a SAM request and approval process. But if you are serious about effectively managing your software, this should already be happening.

The benefits of having all your software product information in one place cannot be overstated – just ask your stakeholders. Your end users will appreciate how it facilitates quick handling of their software requests, and answers to product questions. Your support teams will be grateful to easily retrieve deployment instructions. Your security teams will rest easier knowing there is a comprehensive software list, with an embedded approval process is in place. Your contract renewals team will find their jobs much easier with a “one-stop shop” to aide in procurement decisions. Your CIO can speak confidently to the effectiveness and efficiencies provided by the SAM program.

The Master Software List may go by other names, but it is and will always truly be The Master – spewing knowledge, providing control, and conquering the dark side of software asset management.

Does your organization have a comprehensive list of your software products? Are you confident in its integrity? Or do you need help in getting started on this daunting task? Let us show you how Siwel can assist.