An Insider’s Guide on Where to Target Your Software Asset Management Efforts

Updated: Aug 23

Software Asset Management (SAM) is a big, unwieldy topic, but I’m going to focus on the software publishers whose audits present the greatest risk to customers. Audits are a central component of supplier sales strategies, as they are used to drive revenue, gain visibility into product use, and to push organizations to adopt new products or cloud solutions as a way to address compliance issues. Because most audits are quietly resolved, there is no official, reliable list of who audits the most; the following list is based on my work here at ClearEdge Partners and as a former professional auditor.


We advise clients to target their SAM programs on the top tier publishers – Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM, Micro Focus, Quest, OpenText -- which is where about 80% of your financial risk lies. These vendors are the most likely to audit, the most difficult to work with, and consistently extract the most revenue from their audits. If you’re wondering why OpenText is on my list: we’re recently hearing from a lot of OpenText customers who are in a world of audit pain, so that’s why I put them on my top tier list.


Where to Start with Software Asset Management

Bear in mind that auditors are measured on the revenue they generate in findings. In my previous life as a Microsoft auditor, my team’s ROI was 27 to 1, meaning for every $1 we were paid, we generated $27 in audit findings. Other publishers have lower ranges – a ten to one return is average – but the point remains: audits are a lucrative source of income for software publishers.


Many clients can be quite naïve when it comes to SAM programs. They think that if they load everything into Flexera or SNOW, they’re doing software asset management. The problem is that these tools fall far short of counting everything, but based on the tool vendors’ claims, they often create a false (and dangerous ) sense of security for customers.


But let’s get back to the top individual publishers and where their audits tend to reap the most findings.