Software Contract Negotiation (When You Don’t Have the Upper Hand)

How to Negotiate Software Contracts When You Have No Second Option

Software contract negotiations can be difficult, frustrating, and exasperating. But they can also be tolerable when it feels like you have cards of your own to lay on the table. Having the option to be able to walk away can be the silver bullet in a negotiation:

“I think I’ll take my business elsewhere. I hear your competitors give out enticing offers to new customers.”

Such words usually drain the blood from the sales reps’ faces and they’ll scramble to keep your business, even if it means they keep it at a lower selling price.

But what if you don’t have that option? What if the software vendor sitting on the other side of the table has you pinned in a corner?

    1. Maybe they have a monopoly on the software that is critical to run your business. There’s no one else selling the software that you need and if you don’t have the software that this vendor is selling, then your business is as good as dead.


  1. Or it’s possible that, while you have alternative software vendors available, you’ve already implemented this software so thoroughly throughout your company that switching at this point would be impossible.

This seemingly skewed power dynamic means that negotiating a contract feels more like a shake-down.

What can you do other than bend to their demands, which will steadily get more and more outrageous when they figure out they have you chained to your chair?

At Metrixdata 360, we’ve had many clients come to us in just such a predicament and we’ve discovered that while you may not have the option to walk away, there are still a few cards you can play.

Create a Value Gap

While it’s true you need the software the vendor is selling, very few businesses need 100% of their workforce to have every top-of-the-line software product.

Within a workforce, we have usually seen that around 20% to 30% of workers use the software provided to them constantly. These are the power users. They are the ones who need five monitors and a remote laptop stacked with top-of-the-line software.

Then you have the middle-range users — the ones who would need their desktops but maybe only use two or three programs on it throughout the day.

Lastly, you have people who are on their feet all day, users who share a single computer, or employees who only use software to clock in and out of their shifts.

Software vendors usually arrange their contracts so that 100% of your workforce is licensed as though everyone needs the same amount of software as the tech-heavy user. This is often the source of a lot of wasted money and can be solved by creating multiple “worker types” throughout your company, each with their own licensing requirements to account for the variety of work that is needed to run your company.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can create the value gap with your software vendor, check out our video, The Microsoft Office 365 Value Gap.

Understand Your Software Contract and Your Position

You need to make sure that you know the contract you’re signing up for inside and out. It is equally important that you understand how your company’s software consumption and usage relates to the contract so you can be sure the work you need the software for is sufficiently covered while avoiding paying for features you won’t use.

Make sure that the terms are clearly defined in the contract. Terms like “users” and “devices” tend to be notoriously ambiguous and can lead to compliance issues down the line.

After you understand the license, ask yourself if there are different licensing models that could suit your needs better.

    • If your business is subject to strict seasonal change, perhaps a subscription-based license would be better suited to your company than a perpetual license?


  • Is the license model that you’re purchasing completely necessary or are there unnecessary features to it that can be removed if you sign up for a cheaper version (going from enterprise to standard editions, for example)?

Having clear visibility into your company’s software usage will give you the information you need to make these types of decisions. Don’t expect the vendor to simply offer up these cheaper alternatives for you, you need to do your own research because chances are that the sales rep will try to set you up with the most expensive edition with the least effective licensing model.

You can even negotiate for non-standard language to be added into your contract. These are specific clauses that account for your unique software profile.

One client we recently negotiated for was able to create a clause that outlined specific usage around a single day during the year where their business would spike. Don’t be afraid to push for a hand-tailored contract if it gets you the results you need.

Give Yourself Lots of Time

One client we recently negotiated for was able to create a clause that outlined specific usage around a single day during the year where their business would spike. Don’t be afraid to push for a hand-tailored contract if it gets you the results you need.

Since you don’t have the option of going elsewhere, biding your time may not be the best strategy because the software vendors already know there’s little chance in you leaving.

Instead you need to make sure that you are well prepared. You may have to try a few other tactics to move the process along, such as assigning tasks to keep track of progress or escalating the issue to the sales rep’s upper management (a well-placed call to any higher ups could mean the difference during a stalemate).

These tactics will take, above all else, time and patience. It’s recommended that you begin negotiations anywhere from nine to twelve months before the renewal date to give yourself the time you need.

If you’d like to learn more tricks for negotiating your next software contract, check out our article, 5 Simple Tips for Software Contract Negotiation.

You Can Negotiate a Software Contract (Even If You Can’t Walk Away)

Software contracts are a balancing act. But when you don’t have the option to pick your vendor, it may feel like you’re doing that balancing act with lead shoes on.

Although it may be a more challenging process, there are still cards you can play to get a deal that maximizes your software’s value without blowing your IT budget out of the water. After all, IT budgets are only being stretched thinner these days and IT departments are constantly asked to do more with less.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can get the most out of your software, MetrixData360 is here to help. We have negotiated hundreds of contracts with every software vendor in the market today, from Microsoft to VMware. We speak the language of the software vendors and we know how to get you the results you need.

If you’d like to learn more about how MetrixData360 can save you from wasting your company’s money, check out our contract negotiation page!

Promoting Software Asset Management to Your Team

How to Educate the Rest of the Team on SAM

So, Software Asset Management has sparked your interest; perhaps it was the cost saving opportunities, or the organization and optimization that it offers for your software architecture. However, being intrigued by the idea is one thing, convincing the rest of your company or catching the rest of your team up on your research may prove a bit more of a challenge, especially if those people don’t have the same level of experience, knowledge, or interest as you do when it comes to software. To help you through the process of explaining to the rest of your team why Software Asset Management is a good idea for your company, we’ve made up at MetrixData360 a few graphics complete with talking points that can be added to presentations or emails that can help get everyone on board with this new and amazing Software Asset Management Project!

The Importance of Software Asset Management

  • Massive Cost Saving Opportunies

Software Asset Management is about saving money, through making software environments as efficient as possible. With the removal of a few unused, unneeded licenses, companies have been known to save hundreds of thousands of dollars. An estimated 20-30% saving opportunity is available in the average software environment that SAM can access.

  • Software Audit Readiness

Software audits happen and they do so frequently. The average sized company could expect a software audit at the very least once every three years. Should a software audit come our way and we are not prepared, we could be forced to pay out millions of dollars that we don’t have to. Our best defense against this outcome is to have strong and accurate data regarding our software environment that proves exactly what we have and exactly what we owe.

  • Empowerment
    • Empowered IT Security – Having a software environment that is devoid of redundancies will make it much easier for our IT Security to monitor our environment. Old and forgotten software that has neither been updated or patched is one of the most common pathways that hackers use to breach a company’s infrastructure.
    • Empowered IT – Software Asset Management supports the day to day role of the IT department. IT will have the data they need to track the value of deployed software. It will also give the data they need to advocate for any required software.
    • Empowered Finance and Procurement – Software Asset Management allows you to actually budget effectively and is an excellent risk management tool since we will be able to detect any compliance issues with our software licenses or any unexpected spikes in spending before they become a serious issue. SAM also addresses the dilemma of tracking the software of joiners, movers, and leavers in your company.

How to Get Started with Software Asset Management

  • Conduct a SAM Maturity Assessment

Software Asset Management is often a large undertaking and it’s very easy for companies to become overwhelmed and discouraged, a “can’t see the forest because of the trees” situation. The early days of software asset management revolved solely around creating an effective license position for a specific purpose such as an audit, or a contract negotiation. However, SAM done properly isn’t a single day task, it is an ongoing process that ensures compliance, optimization, and consistent savings. Which is why Software Asset Management is broken down into five stages.

  1. Chaos
  2. Reactive
  3. Compliance Plus
  4. Optimization
  5. Amplify Value

It may not be necessary to achieve all the levels of maturity, depending on your business goals and the scope of your SAM process.

  • Install a SAM Tool

For large software licensing environments, there’s simply no way we could possibly count and monitor our architecture manually to any degree of accuracy. Companies without a SAM tool in place have roughly 20% visibility of their entire software architecture. However, when they install a single SAM tool, this only improves their software visibility to 40%, taking them from a passive stage to a reactive stage.

It is actually companies who have installed multiple tools who achieve near 70% visibility. It is essential that during this process we install at least one SAM suit and if we already have one it is important to examine the accuracy of its data, as a poor reporting tool with faulty data will completely undermine the whole process.

  • Get Someone Who Can Manage SAM

Depending on how much we want to commit to this SAM journey, we will most likely need to hire someone who can help with the task, either hiring an in-house manager or hiring an external third-party.

This cannot be the side project of one of the IT staff members. If we want the job done right, we will need the right people for the job!

The Importance and Benefits of On-Going SAM Processes

After completing our immediate software asset management objectives such as an audit, or reaching compliance with one of our software vendors, it is important to maintain the software management processes we have in place.

  • Reinforce Good Habits

Often companies lose all the progress they have made with their SAM after their initial goals are met, which means that they are left exposed to the same issues that alerted the need for SAM in the first place. With a continual SAM effort in place we will get to instead track the long-term improvement to our software environment.

  • Consistent SAM Means Continual Savings

Keeping a software asset management process in place means that you will be able to continually access the saving potentials that our software licensing environments can offer. Never be stuck with outdated hardware or software that is unnecessarily expensive, those are savings that could be recycled back into the IT department.

  • Learning Opportunities and Long-Term Empowerment

Gain insight into how our software is licensed, how it can be best fitted to suit the needs of our company to both reduce risks and improve efficiency of spend. Know exactly what we are paying for and feel more confident in our software contract negotiations and in our general relationship with the vendor because now we understand things on their level.

It may be a challenge to get everyone on board with SAM but just remember that this is a good idea, that has the potential to save your company a lot of money. Not having a software asset management process in place can leave you exposed to the steep penalties of a software audit and it can leave you spending copious amounts of money that you don’t need to. At MetrixData 360, we have helped companies at all stages of SAM maturity to achieve their goals. If you would like any help getting started on your SAM journey, you can contact us and our Director of Client will answer any outstanding questions you might have.

Mike’s Minute: Negotiating a Microsoft Audit or SAM Engagement

I enjoy reading inspirations and thought provoking quotes every now and again.  I found one recent, that was from John F Kennedy about negotiating that I believe applies to negotiating a Microsoft audit.  Since JFK was a President, he found himself in all kinds of tough negotiating spots and he provided this little bit of wisdom.

Anyway, the quote goes like this:

“Let us never negotiate OUT OF FEAR, but let us never fear to negotiate”

One of the Forgotten Laws of Software Audits and SAM Engagements

An audit is a negotiation.  Understand that your deployment position is a negotiation.  Period!

Let me explain.  Right now, software vendors like Microsoft are auditing or disguising audits as Software Asset Management engagements – (SAM for short) 1000s of companies.  It’s a huge revenue generator for them.  So many companies are falling into the trap that their vendor tells them that the SAM process is to help them understand licensing and their deployments. But it really isn’t, its about generating revenue. And in this free short video, I’m going to show you how they use these audits to generate revenue and what you can do to ensure you only pay for what you are actually using!

A Better Way To Handle SAM Engagements

I’m not only going to show you how, with MetrixData360’s SAM Compass, you can use the same tools the auditors use (most of these are free) , but I will show you the tool we use to clear the noise out of deployment data, structure your data, and how to apply licenses to get the optimal results for you. And guess what! You don’t need to be a licensing PhD to apply these strategies. You can save yourself thousands of dollars just by copying us (or allowing us to do it for you).

More importantly, I’m going to show you the one simple tool that empowers you to do this on your own.  You don’t need an army of IT folks, lawyers, and other resources to do this, and you definitely don’t need a million-dollar budget to implement some fancy Asset Management Tool!

Defending Your Dollars During a SAM Engagement

But let’s back up for a second; about two years ago when Microsoft started auditing more people, our business began to grow.  People were looking for help to defend themselves against what they felt were unjustified audit positions (and they were unjustified) and so we built a lot of manual process to help organizations in negotiating a Microsoft audit.

Over the last two years we have successfully defended almost 100 companies (from 250 users all the way up to fortune 50 companies) with Microsoft Audits or SAM Engagements and shown them how to save millions of dollars in incorrect audit findings.

I’m talking about real dollars saved.  Not just from audit findings, but we were also able to take their actual deployment data and licenses that they owned and create licensing models that worked for them versus the typical Enterprise Agreements they were being sold, saving them even more money.

And here’s the bottom line that I keep coming back to – no matter how big or how small the company, organizing and understanding your data is the key to saving money when negotiating a Microsoft audit.

Use Data to Defeat a Microsoft Audit

For client after client, our manual tools that we developed did TWO things really well.  They helped us organize the data so we could visualize it simply (removing all kinds of noise) and it helped us OPTIMIZE LICENSE ASSIGNMENTS driving savings.

I guess if you can only do two things well and it saves you money, those are two pretty good things.

So let’s start off by talking about organizing data, about how you need to be able to visualize your deployment information in a simple and easy to understand manner.

First let me ask you a question. You are trying to save your company money, right? You want to be able to optimize your Microsoft licensing (whether that is on-premise or cloud based licenses) so you can help your company save money, right?  And you’ve seen the big Asset Management Tool companies promote how their tools give you the rigor and process to save you 20, 30, even 40% on software licenses and audits?  So as someone that is responsible for software licensing, can you tell me how you can save money without being able to correctly visualize and analyze your deployment data?

It’s impossible, right?  And there is a reason for that.

Structuring your data correctly works for a lot more than audits though, but audits are definitely one great area to apply the concept – and what you need to know is what the smartest people who defend software audits know, what those expensive SAM Tool companies know that saves you millions of dollars – it’s something you need to pay attention to.

And I think one of the best things about this tool, is you don’t need to change your current process!  It works with your existing tool, whether that is SCCM, BigFix, Altris, Flexera, etc.  Don’t have an inventory or network management tool? Not to worry, there are some free tools like Microsoft MAP that will do.

Clients Who Saved Big During SAM Engagements

Here are just a few examples of the big audits that I’ve worked up close and personal on where we saved millions of dollars for our clients (identities masked to protect the innocent obviously!)

A large Healthcare Organization was audited by Microsoft.  The auditors had produced findings of $9 Million in non-compliance.  For 6 months they argued with the auditors about the findings.  Figuring the real number was about $1 Million. MetrixData360’s process helped them settle for less than $500,000 in 8 weeks.

A global transportation company was facing an SAM Engagement to validate their use of Microsoft SQL Servers.  Their account team took the raw data that was provided and assumed they needed $5 Million dollars of licenses.  When we formatted the data and gave them a visualization of the data, they soon learned the shortfall was actually $0.

Not as big as these two examples?   Don’t worry!  The bottom line?  These two companies saved Millions of dollars and countless hours of wasted time and aggravation trying to deal with incorrect audit findings.  The best part is the results scale to the size of your organization!

Let SAM Compass Guide You Through Your Next Microsoft Engagement

MetrixData360’s SAM Compass and software deployment visualization process saves you money!

I know you know this, but for whatever reason, you’ve only messed around with deployment data, or you haven’t done it all.  Maybe you think it’s too complicated, or it’s too expensive, or you’re going to wait until you receive an audit notification.  Already engaged in an Audit or a SAM it’s not too late!

Let me save you the trouble – let’s look at someone who’s already used SAM Compass and figured it out.

I want to show you what one of our clients has done with the tool and how they used it to figure out exactly what they had deployed and where they had potential compliance gaps – before they even became a problem.

These guys had a good handle on their licensing but they never had a way to visualize it.  Like many of you out there they were managing everything in many different spreadsheets.  However, once we implemented MetrixData360’s SAM Compass, they were able to see everything quickly and easily.

I know what you are thinking!  That is tough to implement, how do I get the data.  Let me put your mind at ease!

The client I just showed you did not have an inventory tool installed.  All their license management was done in spreadsheets.  As someone requested something new, they just added it to a running total to figure out what their true up would be.  That was until we ran them through the SAM Compass process and automated it for them!

This client (and about a dozen others I’ve worked with in the last 90 days) ran Microsoft MAP Toolkit.  It is a free tool.  It does the same thing as those fancy inventory tools that are out there, and the great thing is it works for someone who has 100 devices to someone who has 100, 000 devices.  Cost to use this tool $0.  Sorry inventory tool vendors.

A One Man Army Against SAM Engagements

The next thing people ask; they must have had an army of people running this MAP thing.  Not at all!  1 IT person with the right credentials, about 10 minutes to set it up and BAM! results.  We used the Assetlabs ECHO tool to validate the data, ask them to make a few changes, and done!

What about having to run all kinds of reports out of that MAP toolkit to get the data!  Nope (we don’t like their reports anyway; we think they are wrong!)  With that ECHO utility that I just mentioned from Assetlabs (free as part of the SAM Compass service) the data automatically gets extracted from MAP.  Five minutes after that you can be in the portal visualizing your data.

Before we built SAM Compass, this process took us days.  We also know that many of you stop building SAM practices because it would have taken you just as long.  When we used manual processes, it was painful. I mean, it hurt to get the data in a consistent format for visualization and licensing optimization!

The thing is I am an audit and licensing expert – I never wanted to be a data analyst.  I want to help clients save time, save money, and save aggravation. I use SAM Compass because it’s more effective than anything I’ve ever done – now I don’t have to manipulate standard reports and stitch data together for hours and hours.

What does this mean to you?  It means you don’t need a multi-million dollar budget to get started in SAM.  Just sign up for SAM Compass!  If you don’t have an inventory tool – just install Microsoft MAP!  You don’t need an expensive inventory tool!  I will make you a bet – if I showed you the results from someone who had a multi-million dollar implementation of a fancy SAM tool and the same results with SAM Compass, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  Well that’s not exactly true, SAM Compass will give you better, more actionable results and data you can easily visualize!

Get Guidance Through Your Next Microsoft SAM Engagement

So why don’t you know what your license position is?  Are you able to easily defend yourself in an audit?  Do you have easy access to all your deployment data?  Is it easy to visualize and understand?  Is your Enterprise Agreement optimized based on your actual usage?

You know what?  Don’t answer that because I don’t want to incriminate you!

Send an email to and ask for us to schedule a demo of SAM Compass for you today and let’s discuss how you too can save time, money and aggravation!

The Invisible Risk of Oracle VirtualBox

Is there a way a free piece of software downloaded off the Internet can cost your company potentially huge auditing fines? Oracle VirtualBox is one such seemingly benign application that can prove a major liability for your company.  Oracle VirtualBox acts as the coordinator of virtual machines from multiple operating systems and can improve the performance of guest virtual machines. It is a free piece of Open Source software for anyone to download. At MetrixData 360, we have seen that Oracle is actually targeting companies with VirtualBox installed on their company desktops and in this article, we’re going to discuss why that is and what it could mean for your company.

A Quick Definition of ‘Copyleft’

In the software licensing world, there are two definitions of ‘free’. There is the regular definition of the word free, where you don’t have to pay for anything. Then there is open source software, which is also described as ‘free software’ or ‘Copyleft licensing’, a term which can be applied to VirtualBox’s General Public License version 2 (GPLv2). Open source means that you may or may not be asked to pay for the software, but once you have the software, you can crack it open and tinker with the source code. You’re allowed to learn from it, improve upon it, and you can even pull out pieces you like and use the code to make other things. It’s great for hobbyists who want to develop their coding skills, especially since doing this same thing to regular copyrighted software would send them straight into a copyright infringement lawsuit.

The only real rule when playing around with open source software is that you can’t make money off of the software codes, and if you give the software to someone else, then you have to allow them access to the source codes as well. For example, if I made a game out of open source code, I could share it with my friends or post it online for people to play so long as I supplied them with the open source library I used to make it and offered the game for free. While this can be great for some, things have the tendency to enter the grey area quickly when open source code enters the corporate realm. Even if you aren’t directly selling anything with open source codes, what technically constitutes as ‘making money’ from the software? That’s where things get sticky.

Problems with VirtualBox

VirtualBox is free in every sense of the word; you don’t have to pay for it, and you can play around with the code as much as you like, so what is the issue? Sadly, there are many issues that arise when your business decides to get VirtualBox.

VirtualBox’s Extension Pack

VirtualBox is broken down into three parts. The Basic Package, the Extension Pack, and the Guest Additions. The Basic Package and the Guest Additions are free, however, the Extension Pack that you can install just as easily to go with VirtualBox is distinctly not free. The Extension Pack is what you need to buy a license for.

Why Get The Extension Pack?

The Extension Pack is enticing for many reasons. Namely, it improves the performance of the VirtualBox and while the VirtualBox alone only supports USB 1.1 devices, the Extension Pack Supports USB 2.0 and 3.0 devices. If you have an issue with VirtualBox and you don’t have the Extension Pack, then you can consult the VirtualBox Community. This is basically a reddit-like board consisting of a collection of software enthusiasts who may just have the solution to the problem you’re facing. However, if you get the Extension Pack, then you are eligible for support, updates, and maintenance from Oracle.

Can the Extension Pack be Redistributed?

Unlike the rest of VirtualBox, the Extension Pack is subject to the Personal Use and Evaluation License (PUEL), which means that you can download the Extension Pack onto a single host computer for non-commercial purposes, which a company distinctly doesn’t fall under. Unlike with the GPLv2, which allows for redistribution, you can’t redistribute the Extension Pack without a special license from Oracle.

How Much Does the Extension Pack Cost?

The Extension Pack has two pricing models that you can pick between, as seen below and published on Oracle’s website:

Oracle VirtualBox Pricing Chart

It is important to note that if you chose to use the socket pricing model (a socket is what hosts a chip, which contains a collection of one or multiple cores), then you will need a license for all the hosts within a vCenter, which could expand throughout multiple data centers. This means that anything the VirtualBox touches needs to be licensed. In addition, any environments like Test/Development servers that interact with VirtualBox also need to be licensed. Failure to attend to these issues could easily translate to owing Oracle hundreds of thousands of dollars in required licenses, depending on the size of your infrastructure.


Shadow IT

Does your company have VirtualBox installed on its desktops? If you have a discovery tool in place as a part of your Software Asset Management process, that’s probably where your thoughts are turning if you want to find the answer. However, at MetrixData 360, we are repeatedly finding that discovery tools that are available today are unable to detect the presence of VirtualBox on a device. Without that visibility, the only options you possess for monitoring the usage of VirtualBox is either checking the desktops manually (a gruelling process which leaves a very likely threat of human error), or we have suggested to many clients, simply put a company-wide block on the webpage where you can download VirtualBox.


The Foot in the Door for a Software Audit

While the presence of VirtualBox may be a blind spot to you, it certainly isn’t for Oracle. They are notified of every installation of VirtualBox and will be able to know which desktops in your company have VirtualBox. Even if your company is out of compliance when it comes to VirtualBox’s Extension Pack, your penalty may be somewhere shy of USD $1,000, which amounts to pennies for larger corporations. Since the fine is so small, it may lead companies to brush it off, but this small fine could easily lead to a bigger problem. Catching Oracle’s attention by being out of compliance with VirtualBox has resulted in many companies receiving a larger software audits from Oracle since they now have evidence to suggest the company’s software environment is not as organized as it ought to be. It’s best to tackle this small problem before it grows into a larger one.


So, How Do You Check Your Environment for VirtualBox?

If at this point you are wondering how exactly you figure out who already has VirtualBox on their desktops within your company, you can use the following instructions to manually check if a desktop has the Extension Pack.

Check Environment for Virtualbox


For More Information About Oracle VirtualBox

We have found that incidents of shadow IT within an organization are an unfortunately common occurrence that can create security problems, costly app sprawls, and as we saw in the case of VirtualBox, compliance issues. In order to avoid this, it is important to implement a strong software asset management process that can regulate the installation of software. If you would like to know more about the general benefits of software asset management, you can check out our article, Software Asset Management: Its Importance, Purpose, and How it Saves Money.

Book a Meeting with an Oracle Licensing Expert

Find out if our services are right for your company. Book a half hour meeting with our team and find out if MetrixData 360 is the right fit for your organization.

Working From Home? Will Your Microsoft License Allow It?

Your Microsoft License and You: How Your Microsoft Licenses Can Complicate Working from Home

With the COVID-19 pandemic shaking the foundation of our global community, companies find themselves in a position where they must either find ways to get their employees working from home or lay them off entirely. This is a time of quick changes and with little to no advance warning; we find ourselves being asked to work remotely as a part of our new normal. In this hasty transition, it’s important to ask if your licenses can come home with you. At MetrixData 360, we want to make sure that these challenging times don’t have a negative impact on your Microsoft license usage rights, so here are some things to consider when moving from the boardroom to the living room!


Outlook: Plan Restrictions for Working from Home

Outlook, which is included in Microsoft 365, Office 365, and Office Professional or Standard, is one of the most popular products from Microsoft, and therefore should be any company’s top concern as they transition their staff to working remotely.

How you purchase your Office licenses (as part of Microsoft 365 or Office 365)can greatly affect whether you can continue working from home with the license you have or if you need to talk to Microsoft as soon as possible to get something figured out for the time-being.

Using a Work Device

If you are working from home on a dedicated company laptop, then you don’t have to worry. There’s no change to your licenses and you can continue to work as normal. After all, it will make little difference whether you’re working on the couch or in the office, it’s not like the laptop will know the difference.

Working from Home Using a Personal Device

If you are working on a personal PC or tablet, that’s where things can get sticky. Your personal laptop could be anything from the latest and greatest in technology to a dinosaur computer, so it raises a risky question about whether your company should allow potentially out-of-date, unpatched, and unprotected devices to have access to their environment. Security breaches may be the last thing on our minds right now during a pandemic, but it is still something to consider. You will need to install Office onto your own PC or tablet. If you are running an Office 365 Plan through a Citrix Server, then it will need to be Click to Run in Share Activation.

On-Prem Licenses with Office

If you are installing your Office License onto your personal device it is important to establish if you have software assurance as it will allow for Roaming Rights, which Microsoft defines as:

An SA benefit that permits the Primary User of a Licensed Device certain access and use rights. The Primary User may use a Qualifying Third Party Device to (i) remotely access and use permitted Instances or copies of the software running on Servers dedicated to Customer’s use, (ii) locally use a permitted Instance or copy in a Virtual OSE, or (iii) locally access a permitted Instance or copy of the software on a USB drive via Windows to Go, in each case solely for work-related purposes while the user is not on Customer’s premises. No other user may use the software under the same License at the same time. Despite anything to the contrary in Customer’s volume licensing agreement, Qualified Desktops and Devices do not include any Qualifying Third-Party Devices from which Customer’s users’ access and use the software and any (other) enterprise product solely under Roaming Rights.”

A Glossary to Help You Understand What You Just Read, also defined by Microsoft:  

Primary User means someone who has used the Licensed Device more than 50% of the time over the last 90 days.


Licensed Device means a single physical hardware system, dedicated to Customer’s use, to which a License is assigned. Dedicated devices that are under the management or control of an entity other than Customer or one of its Affiliates are subject to the Outsourcing Software Management clause. For purposes of this definition, a hardware partition or blade is considered to be a separate device.


Qualifying Third Party Device means a device that is not controlled, directly or indirectly, by Customer or its Affiliates (e.g., a third party’s public kiosk).


Server means a physical hardware system capable of running server software.


Virtual OSE means an OSE (Office Server Extension) that is configured to run on a virtual hardware system


License means the right to download, install, access and use a Product.

To summarize, it means that you are allowed to access your Office plan remotely. However, if you do not have Software Assurance, then that means you don’t have roaming rights, so you’ll have to get a Work from Home License, an Office 365 Office Pro License, or an E level plan with Office.

Immovable Licenses?

If you can’t take your needed devices home with you, then you have a few options available to you. For one thing, you could use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), but while this comes with many advantages, it poses a similar risk since it’s still your potentially outdated or malware-ridden device that could possibly leak into your company’s assets. To solve this issue, Microsoft has a feature of Windows Server available called Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). RDP allows users to open and use their Windows desktop remotely from a wide variety of devices. However, in order to access this solution, you will need an RDP-specific license.

Related: Has COVID-19 required you to temporarily layoff your workforce? Find out what this means for your software licenses.

Consider the Free Things… And Keep track of Them

Microsoft has been pretty good to its customers during this turbulent time, so make sure that you are accessing all the help that they are offering. For instance, if you don’t have the right plan for Office 365, then you might not have Microsoft Teams, which has become quite a helpful tool for coping with this sudden transition to a working from home environment.  Microsoft has announced that it will offer a free trial version of Teams. You can access this newly available free Teams in a few ways.

Directly Through Microsoft:

Microsoft has offered an Office E1 license, which includes Teams for free for the next six months. An Office 365 E1 trial of six months is also available for nonprofit organizations along with a similar Office 365 G1 for government customers, and Office 365 A1 for academic institutions licenses are available for free.

Through CSP:

Connecting with Microsoft through their CSP program is also a valid way of getting your six-month trial of Microsoft Teams. It will get you up to 1,000 seats and is extended to incorporate the following scenarios:

  • You have new customers that don’t have an Office 365 tenant
  • You have customers with an Exchange Plan 1 or an Exchange Plan 2
  • You have customers with an Office 365 Pro Plus Plan
  • You have customers with an Office 365 Business Plan
  • You have customers with a Dynamics 365 Plan

Want to learn more about Microsoft’s CSP?
We’ve got an article for that.

If you choose to keep your Team plan after the six-month period has ended, Connection will walk you through how to upgrade so that Teams can become a permanent addition to your software environment.

The Limit of Microsoft’s Generosity

It is important to pay attention to the fact that while this offer from Microsoft is generous, it is also fleeting. All of these generous plans have an expiration date, with Teams going back to its regular price after six months. Subscription-based licenses often offer you the ability to cancel at any time but they are also in no hurry to remind you to cancel. Make sure if you decide to use the free version of Microsoft’s Teams during this time that you equally pay attention to retiring it after those six months have transpired. In the market right now, we are seeing a lot of panic as businesses scramble to come up with their new pandemic normal; but it is equally important to think about what happens after the pandemic has passed.

Save your organization money from your home!

These are scary and panicked times we live in as businesses are rushing to ensure that they have as little downtime as possible. However, now that your morning commute involves walking from your bed to your couch, kitchen table or home office, it’s important to ask the question whether or not your software licenses are flexible enough to account for the changes required. The last thing your company needs right now is an unexpected spike in software costs and penalties.

At MetrixData 360, our goal is to save you money and our clients have consistently found that the cost of our services we offer were a fraction of the overall return on investment from our engagement. If you would like to know more about how and where your company can save money on software during a crisis, you can download our 10 Tips to Save money on software during a Crisis by filling out the form.

Ten tips to save software budget in a crisis

EA vs CSP: Microsoft Enterprise Agreement vs Cloud Solution Provider

Is the CSP the New EA?

Wondering what the difference between an EA and the CSP program is, as well as the advantages and disadvantages? Well, that’s what MetrixData 360 is here for.

The traditional EA comes with many advantages, mainly allowing businesses to add licenses to their profile throughout the year and only pay for the licenses that they had added during their annual true-up. It cut back on the hassles of bickering with Microsoft over price, but it can often prove the biggest IT expense in many organizations.

In recent years, a new potential alternative has entered the scene. Cloud Solution Providers offer a tempting alternative to EA customers. With so many businesses, moving to the Cloud, having the licensing that matches that migration is critical for your business, but is a CSP right for you?

At Metrixdata360, software licensing is our bread and butter, and we pride ourselves with diving into the nitty-gritty details to see where you can cut your software spending and optimize value. Let’s take a closer look at how the Microsoft CSP compares to the Microsoft EA.

Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider

The new CSP licensing model is designed to give large businesses more control over their licensing. Like most of the licensing available on the Cloud, CSP follows a subscription payment system, where you pay a monthly fee to cover only what you have used.


Benefits of Microsoft CSP

Pricing Flexibility
With the CSP, you pay only for what you need and only for as long as you need it. There are no hefty upfront payments and no lump sum payment that you must commit to yearly like with the EA’s true-up. This also means you will not see any surprise costs throughout the year.
No minimum number of users or devices
Unlike with the EA, which has a minimum number of users or devices of 500, the CSP is much more flexible with the number of devices and users you can have under this agreement, making it ideal for smaller companies.
Licensing flexibility
With the EA, we have often seen that companies will bulk up their purchases beyond what they actually need in order to secure a better deal overall but with the CSP, there remains the Cloud Subscription principle of paying only for what you use and what you need.
Unlike with the EA, where you are expected to manage your own licensing, there is additional support available to CSP customers through your CSP provider, which will offer you around-the-clock support.

Disadvantages of Microsoft CSP

It’s only for the Cloud
This is a bit of a given since it’s a Cloud Solution Provider program, but if your company hasn’t made the transition of moving its business to the Cloud and has no intention of doing so, then you won’t be able to get much value out of the CSP. Microsoft’s CSP is also only for Microsoft’s Public Cloud with Office 365, Sharepoint, Skype for Business, and other such productivity-centered solutions online, although there is also additional security you can get if the Public Cloud feels too public for you. For your On-prem software, you will need another contract in place in addition to your CSP with Microsoft to account for them.
With the Cloud comes Cloud Related Problems
Moving your business to the Cloud isn’t the end to your software problems or the end to the potential for wasted spending. Some of the most common concerns we see surrounding having your software exclusively on the Cloud are:
  • Security: it is a heated debate about whether your data is safer on-prem or on the Cloud. While the most popular platforms are equipped with high-quality security, there are the occasional breaches that tend to have terrible effects.
  • Soft Costs: From our experience, many companies that we have worked with have stopped their Cloud transition half-way through after being nickeled and dimed to death through the accumulation of seemingly small Cloud fees when spread across their entire software architecture.
  • Licensing metrics: When moving to the Cloud, many companies often find that their licensing metrics change and they are left with a few missing licenses, leaving them exposed to compliance issues in their next software audit.

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

Microsoft’s EA has been a popular solution for many companies throughout the years. Its appeal came from allowing businesses to add licenses to their agreement as they go.

Advantages to the Microsoft EA


Software Assurance
For companies where mobility to the Cloud simply isn’t an option, the EA remains an appeal because of the software assurance, which offers customers valuable access to upgrades, IT training, and support. These benefits are required for licensing mobility, disaster recovery and can prove a vital asset during a software audit. Many companies consider keeping their Software Assurance as a mission critical priority and for this reason will often take the punch with the changes to their EA, so long as their Software Assurance remains intact.
Volume Discounts
Microsoft offers a lowering price to their customers who buy in bulk or those who are government and academic organizations. However, this has become steadily more difficult to obtain as Microsoft pushes their customers into the Cloud.

Disadvantages of the Microsoft EA


Minimum of 500 Users or Devices
In 2016, Microsoft announced that the minimum number of devices to qualify for the EA licenses went from 250 to 500, giving companies with EAs and less than 500 devices a grace period of 36 months before the change was implemented and July of 2019 saw the end of that grace period. What this means is that companies either have to pay for more licenses than they need, or they need to find alternative licensing options.
Lack of Flexibility
Compared to the CSP, the EA has very little wiggle room that can be adjusted to your unique business model. Don’t want the Software Assurance? Don’t want to sign up for the full three-year term? Don’t have a single company-wide standardized Microsoft product? Want to reduce your Enterprise Products to a number below your initial purchase? You’ll find yourself fresh out of luck.

Trouble Deciding Between Microsoft CSP and Microsoft EA?

With July being the time of true-ups for many companies in an EA with Microsoft, it’s important to consider the options you have at your disposal, unless you’d care to spend the next three years stuck in an arrangement that doesn’t suit your business needs.

At MetrixData 360, we aim to educate our customer base so that they can feel confident that the decisions they make regarding their software will provide the best value for their company. If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft EAs and how MetrixData 360 can help you get the most out of your software licenses, check out our Software Contract Negotiation page.

How to Negotiate Software Contracts During Mass Corporate Layoffs

If your business is one of the thousands going through tough times during this pandemic, you find yourself budgeting just to keep the lights on and sadly, that means you may be forced to lay off or put on furlough your hardworking employees unless you can come up with some innovative cost saving ideas.  

What makes it worse is that there’s no way to predict what will happen. If you’re planning on rehiring staff, you might be stuck keeping your pricey infrastructure in place even though there’s no one to take advantage of it. 

At MetrixData 360, we recognize that these are hard times so we want to share with you how you can temporarily scale your software estate back without permanently losing your assets.

The ‘Shelfware’ Trap

What is annoying about momentary slumps in business is that they are just that – momentary.

Business will pick up again at some point. Which means that there is hesitation to retire or downsize on any asset because tomorrow your workers will be back on staff and you will need everything in place again.

However, when it comes to your software licenses, it is important to remember that you don’t actually own anything, you’re only paying for the use of that software. If the employees affected by layoffs and hour reductions aren’t using it, why are you paying for it? You’re essentially just giving the software vendors free money if you are doing that.

Many companies do not have a strategy for retiring assets, commonly called ‘shelfware’, where the asset is put into storage and never used again but you are still left paying for it.

In these trying times, unnecessary spend is the last thing you need. Buying products is the easy part, maintaining them and making sure that you maximize their value is more difficult.

Plan A: Read Your Contract for Chances to Decrease Your Software Spend

In current contracts, there are no standard provisions for a long period of downtime. The only clause of that nature would be downsizing due to divestiture. However, the beauty of software contracts is that they can be hand-tailored to the client, so there may be something in your specific contract which could allow you to temporarily downsize.

If you have a license that is committed annually, then depending on your renewal date, you may be allowed to push the renewal date sooner to allow you to talk about negotiating your contract with the vendor.

If you have a subscription, it is important that you decrease your count as quickly as possible and there may be clauses in your contract which allows you to do that.

The longer those counts are in your software environment, the longer they will be costing you money. Most contracts will not let you just decrease your count for your licenses without forcing you to jump through hoops and there’s the tricky part.

You see increasing your licenses with the software vendors is easy, they encourage it and it is almost expected of you within the partnership that you have established with the vendor. It’s decreasing your count that is the issue, your contract may not allow it, but everything is negotiable.

Plan B: Negotiate a Decrease with Your Software Vendor

If you’ve read through your contract and found nothing that could possibly let you lower your counts for the time being, then it’s on to the next step. You’ll need to get in touch with your software vendor and set up a negotiation as soon as possible.

This will be a hard thing to negotiate because during this economic downturn, the software vendors are also taking a hit, so they will probably take an aggressive approach to their sales. A decrease in licenses may be the last thing they will want to hear right now. Here are some tips for dealing with this difficult negotiation.

  • Emphasize the value of your long-term partnership over immediate gains. Bring up how long you have been or how long you are planning to be a loyal customer.
  • Escalate the issue to the higher ups in the software vendor’s company, if you have the connections.

If you’d like some tips on how to face a tough contract negotiation, you can check out our article, 5 Simple Tips for Software Contract Negotiation.

Plan C: Suggest Alternatives

Alright, so you looked through your contract and you can’t reduce anything, and you talked to your software vendor and they might as well have stuck their fingers in their ears and hummed loudly for all you got through to them.

If you can’t decrease your count, you can try a few of these alternatives with the software vendor to see if anything sticks:

Swap your On-Prem Licenses for the Cloud

<p”>In recent weeks, some companies have completely laid off their workers while other companies have just sent them home.

Applications like Microsoft’s Teams and Zoom have seen a skyrocket of activity and you may find that while you’re struggling to find something to do with your on-prem licenses, at the same time your Cloud platform is stretched to full capacity.

Therefore, you might get some traction with your software vendor if you offer to temporarily swap your on-prem licenses with any alternative Cloud subscriptions the vendor might have.

Microsoft, for instance, is particularly aggressive with pushing its Cloud platform onto its customers, so such an offer might spark their interest.

Push Your Spend Back

If you have a large deal in place with your software vendor over a long period of time, you may ask to just push the spend for this period back into next year. This will give your business the time it needs to recover and will offer the chance to improve immediate cash flow.

Trim Back Any Decoration

In more economically prosperous times, certain applications found in a bundled package may have just been nice add-ons or may have contributed to a better discount at the time. Now is the time to take a hard look at those applications and see if they are really worth the effort and the money to upkeep.

For a more in-depth look on where you can cut savings during times of crisis, you can check out our article, How Will Your Software Contracts Be Affected By COVID-19?

Plan With MetrixData 360

During hard times, it’s more important than ever to be smart with your software. Harnessing these saving opportunities could mean avoiding wasting critical resources on software no one is currently using. 

At MetrixData 360, we know how to cut your software costs down so that you only pay for what you are using and what you need. We have sat through hundreds of contract negotiations and we know how to manage your software to get you the results you need.

If you would like more information, you can contact us for a free consultation.

Office 365 Reporting – Simple and Insightful Licensing & Usage Reports… or Lack Thereof

Are you responsible for managing and budgeting your organization’s Microsoft Office 365 footprint?  If so, have you ever found yourself looking for a report, any report, that will help you understand what Office 365 products your organization has subscribed, deployed and are actively being used by each licensed user?  Although the new Office 365 Portal has a number of nifty looking reports and views, none provide the information that you need to do your job effectively.  However, I will show you a handful of Office 365 Portal reports that could give you a fighting chance.

Getting decent usage reports in the Office 365 Portal:

First step is to open the Office 365 Admin Portal by navigating to, providing your login credentials and then clicking on the Admin card.

Getting decent usage reports in the Office 365 Portal

The Admin Portal will load the Home screen which consists of a navigation menu down the left side of the page and some widgets in the main body of the page.

Image 02

Navigating to the Billing widget (or Billing > Subscriptions on the left navigation menu) will open the subscriptions page where you can see your organization’s Active, Expired and / or Disabled Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions.

Navigating to the Billing widget

Clicking the “Assigned” hyperlink (identified by red box in screenshot above) will show all of the users that have been assigned a license from the selected subscription (names and/or emails have been redacted in the following screenshots to protect the innocent).

Clicking the “Assigned” hyperlink

Then clicking Billing > Licenses on the left navigation menu opens a table based view that shows the number of Valid, Expired and Assigned licenses by subscription.

Licenses on the left navigation menu opens

Selecting Reports > Usage (left navigation menu) or Active Users (Home Screen) will load the Usage report/dashboard.

Selecting Reports

Although not particularly insightful, this report shows an aggregated view of your Office 365 usage – Active Users by day, Email Activity (sent, received, read), OneDrive files (storage), Sharepoint files (#), Skype for Business activity (by activity type), Office Activations and Yammer activity.

Office 365 usage

It isn’t obvious, but each of the component specific widgets displays the number of Active users at the bottom of each widget (versus the number of licensed users), identified by the red boxes in the above screenshot.  This may be helpful for you to determine if your organization is over-licensed at a high level.

In order to try to determine the users that are not actively using the licenses they have been assigned, you can to drill into each component by clicking on the widget.

Email Activity

Email Activity

Although the graphic presented at the top of the Email Activity report may look impressive, it adds little to no value in your hunt to track down inactive users (in my opinion).  Your attention should focus on the bottom table where you can sort the table by any column.  Send actions or Read actions would be where I would start since Receive actions occur as the assigned user’s inbox receives a message regardless of whether the user has actively opened their email client or not.

OneDrive Usage

OneDrive Usage

In this report, sorting by Active files (identified by the red box) can help identify the users who have not saved, synced, modified or shared a file within the reporting period.

SharePoint Activity

SharePoint Activity

In this report, one or more the data columns in the Details table can help you determine the users that are not active within SharePoint.

Skype for Business activity

Skype for Business activity

In this report, one or more the data columns in the Details table can help you determine the users that are not actively using Skype for Business.

Office activations

Office activations

Unfortunately, the Office activations widget only provides the number of licenses activated versus subscribed.  Clicking on this widget loads the Microsoft Office activations report.

Office activations widget

Although this report may not be particularly insightful in terms of your organization’s active usage of Office 365 and / or it’s underlying products, it (or perhaps an exported version of the data table) can provide you with the ability to identify users who have activated an Office 365 product on more than a certain number of devices which could bring your organization out of compliance.

Common Features

Like with all of the Office 365 Reports, you can…

  1. Adjust the reporting period by selecting one of the provided duration options.Common Features
  2. Show/Hide columns in the data table by clicking on the three black lines in the top right corner of each table column header.Show/Hide columns in the data table
  3. Learn more about the specific report by clicking the Help link (identified by the red box in the screenshot below).

specific report by clicking

Key Takeaways:

When all is said and done, neither the high level dashboard nor the (more detailed) component specific reports currently include any active usage report information on the Office 365 Suite (Standard, Pro, Pro Plus) or additional applications such as Project, Visio, etc…  But using the information that is available along with role based user profiles, you may be able to safely determine specific users/groups where you can downgrade their current subscription(s) or eliminate it all together. By compiling the data you do have, and knowing how to apply it, you can create active usage reports that can uncover hidden savings.

The New Way to Get Accurate Office 365 Usage Reports:


Microsoft licensing is serious business with huge money at stake. At MetrixData 360 we know that IT leaders are stretched thin and stressed out about the multiple responsibilities that get passed on to their plates. For this reason, we’ve developed a custom Office 365 usage reporting tool that our clients love to use to take care of the heavy lifting when it comes to mining actionable licensing usage reports.  Here, take a look at how it works:

See what SLIM 360 Can Take Off Your IT Table:

Software Asset Management: Its Importance, Purpose, and How it Saves Money

Why Is Software Asset Management Important?

Whether you are fearing a software audit, dealing with contract negotiations with a software vendor or simply would like to save money on the software that you have deployed, software asset management can prove incredibly useful. 

It can save your company money, improve relationships with your vendor and allow you to effectively deploy new software into your system with the confidence in knowing that it is being well-handled. 

Software asset management can be confusing but that doesn’t prevent it from serving as a smart investment for any thriving business. At MetrixData360, we are experts at software asset management, and we will work with you to save your company money, for more information about Software Asset Management, check out our SAM Services page.

How to Save Money on Your Software Licensing

In times when businesses are looking to save money on software, you’ve probably heard about software asset management as an option but aren’t exactly sure what it is, which isn’t that’s surprising. While SAM can save your business thousands of dollars every year, it’s still not commonly known or understood. Because the MetrixData360 team deals with licensing compliance, software contract negotiations, and software optimization, we understand the value of SAM and how it can help save your business money. So what is SAM and why is it such a vital asset to your company?

What is Software Asset Management?

Software Asset Management (SAM) is a subset of IT Asset Management (ITAM), along with Hardware Asset Management (HAM). 

IT Asset Management deals with managing the lifecycle of technology assets to maximize their monetary value to the company. HAM deals with the physical elements of technology like desktops and servers, while SAM deals with the non-physical side of things, such as the software and their licenses. 

Software Asset Management ensures that a company is paying for what they’re using and optimizing the effectiveness of the software programs.  

Software Asset Management allows IT departments to effectively track software usage and maximize the value of software that has been deployed by tracking its usefulness throughout its lifecycle, until it is effectively retired.  

That may not sound essential and for many companies, Software Asset Management is generally ignored as a later day’s problem. This is because Software Asset Management does not deal with tangible things; it is easy to forget about and it is not often that other, more powerful departments interact with Software Asset Management. For that reason, it is commonly not given the attention that it needs  — until it’s too late.  

ITAM is usually prioritized since it handles exclusively what is considered high value systems, such as the databanks that enable a business to run effectively. If there’s a system’s issue that inhibits the in-flow of money, then it’s ITAM’s issue. Since ITAM has an immediate and apparent value, it is often given the highest priority within an IT department and it is also given the most attention when it comes to budgeting.  

For a more in-depth look into what SAM is in comparison to ITAM, check out our article ITAM vs. SAM

Software Asset Management as Risk Management

SAM can put you in a better position to manage risk through knowing which software vendors are supporting which products and which products or versions they are no longer supporting. 

Convincing the CFO that SAM is important can often prove the fruitless challenge of the CIO, but a necessary one nonetheless, since the CFO is often incorporated in the decision to deploy needed software. 

The CFO’s primary interest is in return-on-investments. For that reason, SAM is often seen as unimportant, since effective software asset management is nearly invisible in the day-to-day workings of a company.  

Good SAM means that nothing happens – your company is not given a few million dollars in penalties they have to pay out in a matter of weeks; you aren’t wasting copious amounts of money on software you don’t need; your department’s workday is not bogged down with useless hours spent chasing down pieces of data at the auditor’s requests; and business is allowed to just carry on as usual. 

It can seem like a useless expense when examined from that perspective, but as the old saying goes, if you’ve done it properly, no one will notice anything’s been done at all.  

However, software audits and SAM reviews can be expected from the top software vendors (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and SAP) at least once a year, and the costs from a poorly conducted software audit can be staggering and are almost always unbudgeted for. SAM, therefore, should be viewed as a security investment, like hurricane shutters. You put them up hoping you’ll never have to use them, but you’ll be thankful that you did when a hurricane comes. 

Software Asset Management as a Money Saver

SAM can potentially save a large chunk of an already diminishing software budget. 

If the IT department at your company is already being asked to do more with less, they’d be quite interested to know that the average company overspends on their software licenses by 60% while still being under licensed by 30% in other areas. That’s a lot of wasted software budget while still running the risk of having to pay the software vendor even more money.  

SAM is how you level the playing field, as it can track where you are underspending and overspending by utilizing the types of data which will not even be brought up on the auditor’s data sheet during a software review. 

If you are overspending in certain areas, it’s unlikely the auditors will bring it up to you, what does it matter to them? They’re only getting paid to find where you’re underpaying. Getting money back on your usage will mean money back into your IT departments for further innovation.  

SAM can also cut down on soft expenses like maintenance, which can become quite costly if left unattended. Overspending with maintenance can take away from the overall value, but underspending on maintenance can lessen the quality of the software and its performance. Having a handle on the expenses around the software can be as important as the main licensing costs.  

Put Power Back in Your IT Department

Software Asset Management will also allow you to track the usage of the software you already have deployed in your system; it can show you when you are under licensed so that you can address these issues internally without even having to go through the painful process of an audit. 

You can work proactively instead of reactively to the auditor’s findings. 

It will give your IT department the facts they need to prove the usefulness or lack thereof for software currently in your system. With that data they will have the power to project future usage and effectively argue for the deployment of future software. With this knowledge your company can plan where it will go with its software development.

Optimize Your Software Licenses with Software Asset Management

Knowing what is in your system will mean that when you and the software vendors meet for a contract renewal, you will be meeting on equal grounds. Your software vendors already have a good understanding of your spending and where you’re overspending; if they know more about your data than you do, they can tip the negotiations into their favor.  

Many companies end up paying far more to software vendors than they need to because they lack an accurate picture of their software spending and usage. If you lack the data to know youre overspending by 60%, then the 20% discount offered by the vendor seems like a sweet deal, but in reality, you’re not even breaking even. 

Knowing your data will also mean that you will be able to accurately project how much software you will need in the renewed contract. Often companies take a guess at what they will consume, which is never a smart idea because you can either guess too high, which means you’re wasting money, or you can guess too low, which means that you will be exposing your company to a compliance gap in the next audit. 

Having a strong sense of your software usage will allow you to buy your contracts focused on your future spending, not based solely on what you bought in the past. Your company is growing, after all, and you want your SAM to reflect that. 

SAM Maturity: What It Is & How To Measure It

SAM Maturity Assessment: What Is It & How Is It Measured? 


We all have things we like to put off for as long as possible, such as laundry, unread emails, or getting back into jogging. For many companies, software asset management is treated the same way: exhausting and hopeless while constantly being put off until it is too late. But a mature SAM environment is far easier to maintain once it’s done, much like household chores. Taking the time now to understand SAM maturity can save you time and money in the long-run. 

First, understand that your Software Asset Management program takes time to mature. As with everything else, not being very good at something is the first step to mastering it. The same is true about your Software Asset Management; it takes time for your company to get organized and start being effective with your Software Asset Management. 

So, how can a SAM maturity assessment help to improve your SAM effectiveness?  

At MetrixData360, we know you’ll see better results if you have a firm understanding of Software Asset Management, so we’ve put together this outline that answers what the 5 stages of SAM maturity are and how to reach each milestone along your SAM journey.

What is SAM Maturity?

Having a mature SAM simply means that you are running an optimized SAM program< and you figure out just how mature your SAM process is by conducting a SAM Maturity Assessment, which provides companies with a sample view of their software asset management in present time. This allows them to have a starting point to work their way up towards total SAM optimization. 

5 Stages of SAM Maturity


In the early stages of Software Asset Management, the data you collect will be scattered, unreliable, and incomplete. Your environment, as the name implies, is chaotic. 

SAM teams at this point are dealing with undocumented assets, calling help desks, and an inventory system that leaves the company open to paying out huge amounts should they receive an audit. Companies here are in trouble because their data is often spread across multiple spreadsheets and owned by different people (who often don’t talk). The good thing is, if a company recognizes it is in a chaotic state, it can begin to fix the situation.  

The primary job of a Software Asset Manager in this stage is simply getting a handle on what they have and understanding what quality of data they are working with. Companies at this stage are often either completely lacking in quality data, or they have insufficient policies in place to govern their IT environments, meaning this clean-up process can be time-consuming.


An organization at this stage of SAM maturity has set up their most basic SAM environment.  

With a discovery tool implemented to collect software inventory, a company in the Reactive stage can really begin to start drawing the map of their environment. Many software asset management tools in the market today give the impression that full compliance and complete visibility into their environment is gained after you install the product.  

However, this vastly oversimplifies how long the process will take and the type of effort that is involved in getting your software environment under control. The next step from here is to collect license data to compare against the software inventory that has been gathered. 

Receiving an audit from a software vendor in this stage will seem more like damage control, with your company scrambling to collect data and struggling to present it in a way that challenges the auditor’s findings.

Compliance Plus

Congratulations! You’ve made it to compliance! Now that a company has their licensing information as well as the software inventory, the real fun can begin as licenses and software are paired. 

At this point, a company should have the info necessary to defend themselves from an audit and the larger picture of their software environment should be getting clearer. The next steps are to apply automated reporting of software inventory and license entitlements to ensure continued compliance. 


Now that you’re up to date with your licensing, it’s time to find some savings. Once automated reports are set up, finding spaces where your organization can save money is key. 

At this point, you should have the full view of your software environment and your focus should be on optimizing your licenses by applying the correct sized licenses to your end users, identifying unused licenses, and leveraging your existing inventory when negotiating new contracts. 

Software asset management can now prove a tool for the IT department to track the use and overall value of software assets. This will give them the data they need to advocate for needed software, retire software that no longer has value and project future usage.

Amplify Value

Your software environment is ticking along and saving you money. Now, it’s time to take those savings and make them grow. 

This stage of SAM maturity is focused on the future. Often, we have seen companies buy their software simply based on what they have purchased before but now that you have reached this stage, you can focus on where you want your software profile to go.  

Your SAM team should be reaching out to vendors and building relationships to help maintain compliance, negotiate better deals, and planning for end-of-lifecycle events. 

The savings in this stage are reaped over time – they are the cumulative year-over-year savings from knowing exactly what your organization needs by planning for the future. Once you have reached this stage, your company can make calculated spending decisions when it comes time for contract negotiations and renewals.

Benefits of a SAM Maturity Assessment

It is nearly impossible to set up an effective SAM program without knowing how mature your program already is. Each step of SAM maturity leads you to the next step, eventually guiding you to full compliance and huge savings. 

Running a SAM maturity assessment is an excellent way to mitigate risks associated with a chaotic SAM environment, such as surprise audits, large true-up fees, and production slowdowns due to improper licensing.

Implementing an Effective SAM Maturation Plan

These goals might all sound wonderfully optimistic but how are you supposed to get to that seemingly impossible goal of having your entire software estate under control? 

Getting your SAM team to a mature position is a large undertaking and can take several weeks to complete. In fact, don’t be surprised if it takes two or more years to get to the Amplify Value stage across your entire software footprint.  

According to ITAM Review’s article, Six Stages to Building a SAM Practice, one of the most common mistakes that companies fall prey to when trying to get their SAM under control, is trying to do too much too fast, leaving people feeling overwhelmed, confused, and discouraged from continuing. 

To keep you organized during the process, below are the three crucial steps to building your way to a mature SAM strategy.


The first step to bringing your SAM team to maturity is to plan. This sounds simple, but having a step by step process laid out keeps your team on track and focused on what needs to be done next. Often SAM teams just begin pulling data and trying to assign licenses without a plan, which ends up causing an already complex process to become more complex. 

Sit down with your team and draw up a roadmap to success that everyone can access. This map should detail the steps required to hit each milestone of SAM maturity, and each team member’s role in reaching them. 


Now that you have your plan laid out, it is time to start building the SAM machine that will keep your organization in compliance. 

Each member of your team needs to know exactly what needs to be done. This is where you should be implementing tools to get the cleanest data you can get your hands on. 

Remember the golden rule of data during his period: garbage in, garbage out.  

The better the data your team is collecting about your instances, software editions, devices, and license types, the better your position will be once you come into compliance. Make sure that you get a SAM tool in place that can effectively monitor your software estate. If you’d like more information on making an informed decision about buying your SAM tool, visit our article What are Software Asset Management (SAM) Tools: Functions, Advantages, and Disadvantages.


Now that your SAM team has brought your organization into compliance, it’s time to set up a maintenance program. Luckily, now that your environment has been cleaned up, maintaining compliance and a strong ELP is much easier than working from a chaotic state. 

Focusing on the future is imperative for good SAM maintenance. Preparing for end-of-lifecycle by beginning negotiations early, planning for growth in the company and the licenses that will be necessary for new employees, and creating positive relationships with vendors are all imperative to good SAM maintenance. 

Within your company, foster a strong software awareness mindset, since SAM isn’t a one time thing; it must be an ongoing demonstration of discipline and dedication.

A Better SAM Solution

We know that building a mature SAM position is a daunting task; there are many stages that need to be handled accurately since mistakes at one stage can cause further disruptions down the line, and the amounts of money at stake can reach into the millions of dollars. 

Fortunately, MetrixData360’s SAM Compass program can help to ease that burden. Our robust Software Asset Management as a Service offering is perfect for organizations that need the expertise of a licensing team, without the headache of training.  

While crafting a mature SAM position is no overnight task, an experienced team can do it in a fraction of the time due to the steep learning curve faced by any new people to the field – license agreements are complex contracts, often spanning across several documents. Luckily, our team here at MetrixData360 has experience with all major licensing formats from the major software publishers. 

If you would like any more information about building a SAM team or maturing your SAM strategy, please read through the educational materials in our learning center, or feel free to reach out to our Director of Client Success and we’ll get back to you in 24 hours.