Jan 23, 2018

Top 5 Reasons You Need to Normalize SAM Data

Imagine you’ve got a piggy bank and it’s time to bring your hard earned savings to the bank. Most likely, the bank teller won’t go through all your coins one by one, identifying whether something is a penny, a dime or a quarter. Banks have automatic sorting and counting machines, which not only give bank employees more time to do other things, but also remove the risk of errors when counting manually.

Software Asset Management is no different. While coin sorting is a simple (and boring) task, combing through five Excel reports and three different data marts to gather the license information you need is a real pain (and if you ask me, not much more exciting).

SAM departments face large amounts of procurement and inventory data that needs to be identified & reconciled on a regular basis – and they need an automated method to know their data is reliable.

Normalization is a step-by-step process that systematically cleans and identifies the data, from filtering out what’s unneeded to standardizing the information that is kept. And a SAM software that has built-in normalization automatically performs all the manual work for you.

Data normalization is the foundation for successful software license management. Here are the top 5 reasons why you need to normalize data in SAM:

Reason 1 – Do it quickly and do it right.

A Microsoft licensing contract renewal is coming up and you need to know how many licenses you need. Unfortunately your data is scattered across different places. The report from your reseller lists purchase orders – but it lacks the important SKUs. Microsoft SCCM can show you the exact version for each SQL Server, but the editions are listed on a separate report. Even worse, department A sends you Excel reports, while department B uses a data mart.

Before you get comfortable with working overtime for the next two weeks while you manually clean, combine and classify all of this data, let a normalization platform do the tedious work. Not only can normalization platforms take care of all that data scrubbing and sorting in a matter of minutes, they also eliminate the risk of manual errors.

Reason 2 – Trust your data

It’s important to know your data’s backstory. Don’t blindly trust your data. Using a normalization platform lets you drill down to see how results were actually reached. KPIs that monitor the normalization process are helpful too – they provide insight into data quality before, after and during normalization.

Normalization lets you be 100% sure that you’ve got the right data, and gives you the freedom to easily get in touch with the data owners in case there are any questions.

Reason 3 – Reduce your maintenance costs

People buy and use many versions of a software package. Various versions can entail multiple contracts with overlapping maintenance fees. Normalization identifies every product with the correct naming conventions and software versions, so you know exactly what has been deployed and can reduce unneeded license maintenance fees.

Reason 4 – Gain the upper hand in negotiations

Normalization gets rid of naming conflicts, missing values, and duplicate records so you don’t over-count or under-count your software licenses. By knowing exactly how much money you owe to the big vendors – or don’t owe them – you can be confident in your license management data during contract negotiations, no matter what they say.

Reason 5 – Expose any security risks

Truly normalized data shows if your software versions are up-to-date and risk-free. Remember WannaCry? Old software versions like Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, and need to be updated with the latest security patches. Making sure that all your systems are up-to-date can give you peace of mind.

An automated solution

Banks started using machines over 20 years ago, so that employees can focus on other important tasks. Your software license management program shouldn’t be stuck in the past either.

Using automated tools to do the tedious work is a no-brainer. Our SmartTrack platform has built-in normalization that identifies every piece of software and license data to provide a clear, consolidated view across your enterprise. SmartTrack automatically solves data quality problems like inconsistent naming conventions, and ships with 90+ KPIs that give insight into each process step.

To summarize, successful Software Asset Management needs clean data. It’s critical to normalize SAM data to ensure you have a reliable foundation to make solid financial decisions, increase cost savings, and protect against software license audit risk.

Topics: SAM 101, SmartTrack