By Matt Marnell
When considering the challenges associated with generating license entitlements from software purchase orders, it makes sense to leverage stock keeping units (SKUs) which are part numbers for each software product. Having SKUs makes the software asset management (SAM) process more accurate, more repeatable, and more reliable. The results speak for themselves: vastly reduced times to produce accurate license entitlement positions and a similar reduction in time, effort, and pain to keep those records up to date on an ongoing basis.
For tackling the most complex vendors, SKUs are an asset to a software asset management and license optimization initiative. However, sometimes SKU data may be hard to get. Standards for purchase record keeping vary from organization to organization, and standardization through SKUs is not always a priority. Even if it is, not all vendors use SKUs to keep customer records organized.
When working with purchase records that do not contain SKUs, all is not lost. It is still possible to automate purchase order processing using descriptions with some Software license Optimization solutions. For example, FlexNet Manager Platform ‘learns’ how to process new purchases from previously processed purchases; process an entitlement once and that outcome will be recommended to subsequent purchases with the same description, even if it lacks a recognized SKU.
It is important to emphasize to internal stakeholders the need for complete, detailed descriptions on all purchase orders, not just for software. In particular:
- Descriptions should always include as much detail as required to uniquely identify a purchase, typically including (but not limited to) publisher, title, version, edition, and purchase type (e.g. license, maintenance, upgrade).
- Be consistent in documenting unit vs total quantities; it is easy to make expensive mistakes with multipack licenses like IBM PVU 10 packs. Avoid summarizing line items if possible to enable easier future maintenance optimization.
- Process records in logical chunks based on recognizable patterns in the description. If records are in particularly bad shape, go slow and verify questionable or incomplete records.
- Look out for logical mismatches, like when purchases occur for a product through a different vendor. A generic purchase description for ‘Windows’ may actually be a platform specific server agent for another vendor’s product.
- If it is not possible to update purchase records, or even related policies, consider creating custom SKU-like codes for internal use in the Software License Optimization system. What works for software vendors and resellers can work just as well for individual organizations.
Just as with other key SAM/Software License Optimization processes, data quality is paramount. Following some common sense guidelines, it is possible to automate entitlement processing from software purchases even without SKUs.
To learn more about Software License Optimization, read our whitepaper: What Does it Take to Achieve Software License Optimization?
See also this previous blog on Why a SKU is Important to Software Asset Management.