What is Software License Tracking?

Software License Tracking

Software license tracking is a component of software asset management (SAM)

and involves the tracking and monitoring of software licenses to optimize IT spend, reduce potentially costly license violations, and minimize risks from shadow IT and unauthorized software usage.

This article covers key points about software license tracking, how it works with SAM, the basic requirements of it’s functionality, and why every enterprise must have a license tracking capability. The article covers:

  • Benefits and key features  software
  • How these systems track software licenses
  • Provides a basic template for software license tracking
  • The benefits of software license management software
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Benefits and Key Features of Software License Tracking

Improved security, reduced compliance risk, cost control and spend optimization and enhanced employee experience are all benefits of a well-executed license tracking program. Keeping track of software licenses effectively and efficiently provides the following benefits:

Cost Control

Spending on software can go over budget unless it is closely managed. Employees may expense software on credit cards that a company has already paid for and cloud infrastructure costs can quickly add up.

Detailed Analysis of Analyzing Software Usage Trends

Procurement and IT teams can leverage the tracking software and software license databases to analyze consumption patterns and plan for future budgets and optimize vendor negotiations.

Improved Audit and Compliance

Software license tracking creates a single source of truth for all software license data, simplifying audit and compliance. It's databases must also reconcile all discrepancies to automate compliance remediation processes.

Reduced Security Risk

Software license tracking may reduce risks by identifying and warning of anomalous or unauthorized software running on enterprise assets. This can protect software and ensure it is up to date and prevent employees from using licenses that should not have been recycled yet.

Software License Tracking Improves Employee Experience

The tracking software ensures that employees can access the software they need when they need it, and remain productive. This is crucial in keeping employees happy and preventing them from practicing “Shadow IT.”

What is Software License Tracking Software

Software license tracking is almost always executed through software. That software may be hosted in the cloud, run as a service (SaaS) or installed on servers or endpoints as agents. The software can keep track of software based on various license criteria including: per CPU or core, per network, per endpoint, per Container, or as buckets of SaaS licenses per range of IP addresses.

Key Benefits of Software License Tracking Software

Tracking software may have various features and capabilities to automate, streamline and optimize license tracking. Advanced license tracking software may include additional capabilities such as two-way data syncing, integration with other systems, workflow automation, automated data field mapping and reconciliation, and REST APIs. Here are key features to look for in tracking software.


This makes it easier to deploy, test and scale and is important because an increasing percentage of software assets are deployed in cloud-native formats (cloud infrastructure like AWS or as SaaS licenses)

Automated Discovery

Scans for and discovers all software installed and deployed on enterprise assets (both hardware and cloud infrastructure) and classifies that software by publisher, type and license.

License usage tracking

shows available licenses compared to licenses in use and licenses in quarantine.

License reconciliation

This feature maintains accurate license position data by automatically comparing license position entitlement to usage and cost calculations.

License query engine

Acts like Google for licenses. Allows IT, security compliance and finance teams to search for and clarify the status of any software license purchased or expired.

License forecasting

A more advanced feature that projects license trends and predicts when licenses will need to be renewed or additional licenses will need to be purchased by looking at usage and installed base.


well-documented and structured API to allow for data to be called out of your tracking software and shared with or imported into external systems.

How to Track Software Licenses: Best Practices

A set of well-documented best practices exist for tracking software licenses.