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How to boost data accuracy with a Software Catalogue

Many large organisations struggle to maintain licence management accuracy within their SAM processes. ITAMS recommends that clients use a catalogue-centric licence management tool which helps to marry installed software with SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) and to procurement contracts.

The key benefits gained from using software catalogues are great. Less dependency on discovery tools means that data from other inventory tools can be used to perform software recognition, time and money on manual resources saved and a higher percentage of data accuracy ensured.

Case Study

Software Catalogue Use Proof of Concept (POC)

By Paul Sheehan, Managing Consultant

“About a year ago we ran a 3 day desktop focused POC in an 80,000 user multinational organisation, including the evaluation of two of the very few catalogue centric Licence Management tools in the market. Overall, we evaluated 5 licence management tools in the POC. For those without a catalogue, the work to reconcile discovery, entitlement and contracts in the POC were prohibitive and we could not fully test them in the 3 day window.

The more mature catalogue centric tool had 150 vendor SKUs and tens of thousands of products at its heart. This is constantly updated and links: a) discovery profiles to normalised product names; b) these product names to SKUs (where each SKU can be thought of as a specific and unique set of rights to use the software) and c) these SKUs to the contracts under which they may be purchased (Microsoft EA vs. Select vs. Retail for example).

Note that this isn’t just software recognition… it’s a pre-built cross reference between the software installation and usage evidence from the network and the ways a firm may (or may not!) have purchased licences to use it.

The incoming discovery data from the customer only contained ARP (Add/Remove Programs) data, but this dataset had in excess of 2 million software instances. Over 91% of the non-customer specific software instances were auto matched to the catalogue in this POC, more than double its nearest rival.

This not only meant we very quickly knew what each product was, and had common naming conventions for it and its publisher, but also that we understood the various ways it could be purchased and licenced. In production, that means invoices with SKUs could be auto-matched, permitting very fast reconciliation. Neither we nor the client needed to build this intelligence ourselves, nor did they have to maintain this specialised knowledge in their BAU operations team.

Very quickly it became clear that this element of the tools functionality was the single most important deciding factor – it directly influenced time to value and the volume of operational staff required to properly run and administer the system.”

Is your data fit for consumption?

ITAMS’ Strategic Advisory Services have been designed to help you navigate through the difficult challenges of controlling and managing software asset ownership and utilisation

Amongst the variety of services we offer the “Data Fit for Purpose Testing” Service in particular is pertinent to helping you understand the quality of your data.

The service performs a high level review of the data quality in your major data sources and highlights any data quality issues. Once these are identified ITAMS’ experts are able to make informed recommendations on how these issues can be addressed. To find out more about the, “Data Fit for Purpose Testing” service please call: 0870 4050508 or email: info@itamsolutions.com

ITAMS always delivers its services as an independent service provider. For more information or expert advice on any of the topics above please contact ITAMS.

Get Real Value from Disparate Data Sets

Are you using the right asset to manage your licensing entitlement?

A common issue ITAMS’ consultants come across when helping clients build a SAM / licensing programme is the conflicting records found for a given asset, normally from different data sources. The data sources often include various tools such as discovery, security, patching and software distribution, results from physical audits or barcoding solutions, as well as entries in CMDB etc.

The conflicted records provide limited coverage and are most likely to be out-dated, posing a threat not only to its accuracy but also its integrity. As a result many clients are left in a difficult position in terms of deciding which set of the conflicting records should be used to run compliance calculations or against which data CMDB CIs should be validated.

ITAMS’ best practice recommendation is for clients to consolidate and normalise the disparate asset data sets into a “golden source” and to use only this common record across the organisation and on which to base licence and configuration decisions.

Case Study:

Hardware data reconciliation supporting licence, configuration and outsourcer management

With help from ITAMS, a recent client in the finance sector successfully consolidated, compared, normalised, visualised and reported against 15 hardware data sources. The results were spectacular. They assumed the worst case for calculating hardware maintenance contract by including all identified machines from a number of data sources as input to their assumed estate.

In fact, less than 70% of these machines were real and still present. Analysis showed that the largest contributor was that discovery tools continued to routinely report machines they had last scanned years ago as active. As many of these tools were outsourcer managed with neither a mandatory nor a ‘3 month aged device’ policy applied, the reported data was evidently inaccurate and accounted for unnecessary overpayments in various categories (hardware and software related) to the tune of £10M’s.

The value from the project goes beyond cost avoidance and supports many areas of operational and cost management. It provides a full audit trail of how the “golden record” is derived against which reports on complex data sets can run.

Are you spending too much on software?

Organisations must focus more on managing their top vendors to reduce spend on software. In a recent enterprise licence management engagement (80k seats), ITAMS was able to attribute approximately 40% of its client’s total annual software spend of £165m, to their top 12 vendors. With 70% of their budget spent on support and maintenance and 30% on new licences there is a large opportunity to make substantial savings.

Do you know what percentage your budget is attributed to your top vendors?