How to turn inventory from a cost to a cost-saver

For the most part, understanding the business benefits of deploying an inventory solution is not difficult. After all, how can you expect to manage systems, availability, costs and risks if you don’t know what you’re actually supposed to be managing?

Suffice to say a good inventory solution will give you a basic understanding of what hardware and software is deployed on the network.
Okay; in reality that’s over-simplifying it somewhat, as inventory solutions vary in their ability to deal with dispersed networks, accurate software recognition, different enterprise platforms and tracking user behavior.

But no matter how capable an inventory solution is; the fact remains that its primary purpose is to collect data from the network. Hopefully it will do a decent job of presenting the collected data in a meaningful way (many don’t, we know). But what few, if any, inventory solutions do is add ‘value’ to the collected data.

An inventory solution won’t tell you that the installed copies of Office 2007 are eligible to be upgraded to Office 2013 under your Enterprise Agreement. An inventory solution won’t tell you that you could reduce your next Support & Maintenance bill by 10% by re-calculating current software usage. An inventory solution won’t tell you that the copy of Project Professional installed on your CFO’s PC can actually be covered by an old Project Standard license under Microsoft’s ‘grandfathering’ rights.

At best, an inventory solution is a necessary cost which has to be borne by the organization in order to drive value further down the IT Asset Management chain. Any claimed savings in terms of risk, cost or productivity rarely come from the inventory solution itself but from the interpretation of – and application of intelligence to – the data provided by the inventory solution.

In this light, the reporting and presentation capabilities of the inventory solution itself are not as important as you might at first imagine. It’s the second link in the chain – something like a License Management technology solution, for example – that needs to be able to create reports and present data in a more usable fashion. As long as the License Management solution knows how to use the data provided by the inventory solution, it can apply the intelligence and present the information to the end user in a way that drives the value and cost savings outlined above.

It’s no secret that many inventory solutions – even the most popular ones – fall short when it comes to present user-friendly data and reports. But does that mean throwing out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to initiating a new SAM program? No, probably not.

To understand why, have a read of our new white paper: “Software Asset Management: much more than Inventory” and decide for yourself whether you really need a new inventory solution if your primary aim is managing software and licenses.

Download it here.

Ben Eagling

Ben Eagling

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