An interactive self-assessment tool to help organisations gain full control of all aspects of software and related IT assets has been launched by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the worldwide standards body.

The tool called ISO/IEC 19770-1 Software Asset Management: Are you ready? is the first of its kind for an international standard. The 'ISO/IEC 19770-1' standard establishes a baseline for an integrated set of processes for Software Asset Management (SAM).

The standard was developed to enable an organisation to prove that it is performing SAM to a standard sufficient to satisfy corporate governance requirements and ensure effective support for IT service management overall, according to ISO. It stressed that, although software licensing is included, this is not a standard for software licensing compliance.

The new tool is based on the .Net framework, and may be used easily by individuals (in complete confidence) or by teams of people working together, for the purposes of performing fast, informal gap assessments up to supporting full formal certifications.

The ISO/IEC 19770-1 standard itself was launched in May 2006. This new product has been prepared in collaboration between ISO and Investors in Software (IiS), which is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to advancing professionalism in Software Asset Management, and which works closely with the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF), a forum for the discussion of best practice.

IiS developed the software and guidance contained in the tool. David Bicket, one of the main individuals involved in the development both of ISO/IEC 19770-1 and then of this tool, said: 'We expect the vast majority of people will use it to perform gap analyses against baseline best practice. It is ideal for organisations to identify quick wins and opportunities for longer-term improvement.

'It also can ultimately facilitate the certification process by providing a definitive and comprehensive statement by the organisation of its status against the requirements for certification.'

Keith Aldis, CEO itSMF, said: 'David's role as Chairman of the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) SAM Special Interest Group shows the importance of this standard to us. With this electronic version of the standard the job of assessing yourself and identifying necessary improvements will become significantly easier. It sets a clear industry baseline, allows public recognition for good corporate governance in a complex area and will give organisations a quantum leap in their capabilities for software management.'

There are two licensed versions of ISO/IEC 19770-1: for individual use priced at £79 and for organisations priced at £209, available on CD from the itSMF from 18th June. The CD version will also be available from ISO, national standards bodies, and other ISO authorised distributors. A version for electronic download will also be available from the itSMF in the near future.

A related development is the IiS/itSMF certification scheme for ISO/IEC 19770-1, which is being developed on the model of the itSMF certification scheme for ISO/IEC 20000. This work is being done together with Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance, and the initial trial certifications are already in progress. Further details will be announced in August.