10 Tips to Help You Better Manage Your IBM License Costs

IBM License Costs

Your organization has invested significantly in IBM software, often in the millions. You now want to maximize your return on investment. You also want to ensure you don’t have any additional, unplanned, and unbudgeted expenses. How can you achieve both goals? Better manage your IBM license costs.

This blog post will suggest actionable tips to help you better manage your IBM license costs and get the most from your investment.

#01 Find all your IBM Passport Advantage (PA) sites

Your IBM license entitlement is managed under the IBM International Passport Advantage Agreements (IPAA). Under this agreement, you can have one or more passport advantage (PA) sites. Think of PA sites as bank accounts for IBM licensing.

PA sites are to IBM licenses what bank accounts are to money.

Organizations can have multiple PA Sites (bank accounts), often going back many years. You need to get order history records for each of your PA sites to get the total number of IBM licenses.

IBM licenses can be very valuable, so checking for new PA sites and the order history every few years is a good exercise.

If you don’t know your PA Sites, ask your IBM account manager or eCustomer Care for a list of PA sites and their primary contact information.

#02 Update contacts for each IBM Passport Advantage (PA) sites

The primary contact(s) is the person who has administered access to each PA Site. They are also the person who receives all-important email updates related to IBM licenses. 

Keeping the Passport Advantage Primary Contact updated for each site is very important.

Keeping the Passport Advantage Primary Contact updated for each site is crucial. Having a separate contact for Administrative and Site Technical Contact is also advisable.

#03 Subscribe to IBM licensing notifications

To correctly manage your IBM licenses, you need to stay informed of critical IBM software support updates. This is done by subscribing to the IBM my Notifications service.

This video provides an overview.

#04 Build an IBM License Management workbook

Irrespective of the licensing tool you use to track license consumption, you need to build your own IBM License Management workbook. The workbook will reflect your effective license position (ELP) and what you have entitlement for and deployed. It will also contain additional information not captured in the tools—assumptions, corrections, product-specific notes, etc.

IBM provides a useful IASP reporting template, a good starting point for an IBM License Management workbook.

#05 Regularly update IBM product bundling configured in ILMT

One of the most significant impacts you can have on the reported usage of licenses is IBM product bundling. IBM entitlement comes as a collection of products known as a bundle. An entitlement bundle typically contains several products. Some products require a full license, and others may not, depending on the version and how it’s deployed.

Although ILMT will try to exclude the supporting programs automatically, manual intervention is always needed to ensure they’re correct.

#06 Ensure ILMT is fully updated and no errors

New releases of ILMT come out every quarter. You should try to remain within two releases. This is required for sub-capacity licensing.

The ILMT dashboard should always be without any errors or warnings. As soon as an error appears, it should be investigated.

Don’t allow ILMT dashboard errors to accumulate; it will make it much harder to resolve later.

#07 Review ILMT audit snapshot reports in detail

If discussing the advantages of IBM sub-capacity licensing, you must save an ILMT audit snapshot report each quarter. It’s strongly recommended that you generate the report monthly and review it carefully for any changes in license demand. 

When done monthly, you have time to find and rectify compliance problems. Some errors can result in compliance issues in the millions, so the task is well worth doing.

#08 Build an ILMT reporting checklist

One of the main reasons serious compliance issues accumulate in ILMT is that the task of checking the reports seems complicated. The first time you do all the checks, it is cumbersome and time-consuming. Building an ILMT reporting checklist will significantly simplify the task. You can ensure consistency and correctness by building run books with detailed instructions and screenshots.

#09 Have a maintenance plan for BigFix and ILMT

The tools used to measure deployment and generate reports require regular upgrades. The good news is that upgrades can be scheduled, and the releases from IBM follow a consistent schedule.

Having a maintenance plan for BigFix and ILMT scheduled out in advance will simplify upgrades, reduce risk, and significantly reduce compliance risks in the long term.

#10 License measurement instructions for all IBM products

Matching IBM license entitlement to what is being used is not always easy. Different versions have different rules, and finding IBM license information on a specific product and metric takes time.

Building up a set of templates and instructions over time can significantly simplify the process. You can also get help from peers and partners who can review, update, and verify your documents.


Effectively managing IBM license costs requires a thorough understanding of your entitlements, regular updates, and detailed usage tracking. By following these ten tips, your organization can maximize its return on investment, avoid unplanned expenses, and ensure compliance with IBM licensing terms. Regular audits, accurate documentation, and proactive planning are essential to successful IBM license management.

If you need further assistance or have questions, please get in touch with us. Our team of ex-IBM license auditors knows precisely what to expect and how to respond to data requests in an IBM audit. 

See these articles on IBM License Audits for more information.

IBM License Costs FAQ

How do I get access to Passport Advantage?

If you can’t find the primary user in your organization, the easiest way is to ask your IBM Account Manager. This post on Passport Advantage Primary Contact will also help.   

We outsource ILMT to a 3rd party. Are these tips still relevant?

Yes, these tips are still relevant. You should check the company managing your ILMT, which has all this information and is up to date. You should also verify it’s correct.   

We are in an IASP. Do we still need to manage our IBM license?

Your IASP partner may be doing some of the suggested actions and may have the information in their systems. You also need to ensure you have all the information. You should verify the checklist and run books are relevant to your environment.