When Startup Software Gets out of Hand


What do you do when you run a startup and need to add a new business function? No, you don’t hire a new employee — that’s much too expensive and time-consuming; you must remain small and agile to contend with your big-business competitors. Instead, you get new software.

Software is a startup’s solution to everything. For nearly any business function you can imagine, there is a software tool that makes it cheaper and easier. Accounting? QuickBooks. HR? Zenefits. Social media? Buffer. If there is a business function not serviced by software — well, there’s your next startup idea.

The only problem is that as your startup grows, you will eventually need to hire employees to provide more targeted attention to these aspects of your business. Unfortunately, having so much software hanging around your network can slow everything down, inhibiting your ability to compete as efficiently in your market. Fortunately, there is a solution: more software.

The Software That Manages Your Software

Software asset management (SAM) is a critical element of IT asset visibility. It entails all the infrastructure and processes required to adequately control and protect all software assets. Typically, organizations have several goals for SAM, including optimizing investments, reducing unplanned costs, avoiding vulnerabilities, and ensuring compliance.

Simply using asset visibility software is not the end of your SAM efforts. While having a strong SAM tool is vital to success in managing your software (and other IT) assets, it is also imperative that you and your employees develop the correct habits for using software. What’s more, you need to understand the scope of your SAM needs, which will likely change as your software and other technologies journey through the IT asset lifecycle.

For most startups, SAM is vital — but the difficulty of starting SAM prevents many businesses from obtaining the software support they need. Worse, there’s plenty of misinformation floating around about how to implement a SAM system.

The Truths and Lies About SAM

Consider the following facts about SAM found around the web:

 You only need one SAM tool. This is a lie; there is no single tool or solution that can discover and monitor all the software and data on your network. Some SAM tools are powerful enough to find most of the software your startup is likely to use, but as your business grows, you will likely need to acquire additional solutions.

It is the customer’s job to maintain SAM. This is somewhat true and somewhat false. Because SAM contains software, it undergoes the same IT asset lifecycle as the rest of your devices, software, and data. Thus, you must recognize when it needs augmentation — perhaps with another SAM service or tool. However, your SAM vendor should also be willing and able to update your system with new content, which should enhance its performance.

SAM is complex, ambiguous, and varied. This is undeniably true. Software is diverse, and most licenses are intentionally complex and ambiguous. Additionally, cloud licensing — which is popular among startups — adds another layer of difficulty for SAM systems. It is imperative that you take your time to understand what you need your SAM system to do.

 How to Do SAM Right

As mentioned before, there is no easy way to do SAM right. However, there are several easy ways to do SAM wrong. For example, you could be thwarting your SAM efforts by:

Setting unrealistic expectations. SAM won’t save your company. SAM won’t make you money. But over time, well-organized SAM systems can make you and your staff more productive.

Lacking a structured plan. You should have a clear list of requirements for your SAM strategy. For example, if your industry has compliance regulations, that should be a high priority.

Failing to research SAM solutions. Different SAM vendors provide different options, but there are some solutions that will never be available out of the box. Doing SAM right requires a well-researched budget, which means understanding how much customization you need.

To avoid regular SAM mistakes, your first step should be to speak with a IT professional regarding your organization’s present and future SAM needs. From there, you can consult with SAM vendors to understand options and pricing. The more information you have, the better your SAM strategy will be — but you shouldn’t wait too long to enact a SAM system.


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