Important message
More time has been wasted in trying to make tools work in software asset management activities than anyone cares to admit.

Tools connected with SAM try to deliver three kinds of functionality:
  1. Collection of inventory (Inventory Tools).
  2. Storage of licence/contract information (Licence management tools).
  3. Automation of processes.

Some tools focus on one area in particular, others all of them.

Harsh reality
Despite the promises and assurances of the tool vendors, for the vast majority of customer organisations, inventory tools are not very good at SAM in general and specifically they are terrible at software licence reconciliation.

If you are struggling with the confused information that your inventory tool is throwing at you, then please do not despair there are solutions, but you will probably need to adjust your approach.

As for licence management, often the tools collecting inventory have such capabilities built in, but usually the level of functionality is far from where it needs to be to cope with the variety that licensing can throw at you.

All of these tools try to automate a degree of process, some more successfully than others.  There are then tools on the market that focus on process but also do inventory and licence management.

What do you get?

The basic rule is that the more you pay the more you get but none of them provide an out of the box working solution.

Every tool we have ever worked with requires some level of configuration and most require way too much.

The amount of configuration required from an inventory perspective will depend largely on the state of your software estate.  The more chaotic it is, the more config the tool will require.

This is why many customers are realising that spending a lot of money on an inventory tool is often misdirected resource.  The problems exist anyway, so just spend a small amount on an inventory tool and sort out the issues as you go, rather than expecting too much from the tool.

All licence management tools will of course arrive empty and need populating with your licence and contract information before being of any use at all.

Any tool that provides process management will also start from scratch, giving you a frame work that you can then manipulate to meet your needs.

The bottom line

So whatever your expectations of these tools, they are 99% sure to disappoint in terms of what they will deliver immediately and that will continue as you begin to appreciate the level of work required to make them useful.

But these are the tools that the market is providing right now, so we have to learn to deal with them and make them work as efficiently as possible.

To help you get a better understanding of the main issues we continue on the next page with a more detailed overview of the types of tool available.

Then in - The truth about audit tools - we pick apart the main reasons why inventory tools are so bad at helping with SAM.

Next we examine the Tool automation myth, one of the biggest lies in this business.

Once you have understood all of this negative news, we start to look at solutions for Solving inventory tool issues.  A lot of it comes down to controls that you can put in place that are completely separate to the tool.  The message is, do not think that a tool will provide the solution.  The solution comes from within, very zen....

This then begs the question Do you need SAM tools?  The answer is yes, but it can all be done without tools.

So let us begin with an Overview of tools...