Chris Minchin, Director at Techam Limited, talks to the ITAM Review about getting started with Software Asset Management (SAM), his personal views on developments in the International Standard and the ways in which SAM and ITAM professionals can bolster their skills.
Chris spent 6 years at FAST building the membership team, retaining members and developing their Software Asset Management offering. He left FAST in October 2006 to work as an independent SAM consultant through his own business, Techam and is a member of the ISO working group 21 who put together 19770.
ITAM Review: What projects are you currently working on?
Chris Minchin: We have a number of staff members doing license reconciliation work for people, SAM consulting and helping our customers if they have an issue with software publishers or writing policies. I also present the ISEB SAM courses, the 3 day ISEB SAM Essentials course has been well received and the five day ISEB SAM Practitioner has just been approved and will be available from February.
ITAM Review: What is the current progress on the SAM Standard?
The first iteration of the standard is dash 1 – a framework for how to manage software assets. The first iteration had very little software publisher involvement; it is practical stuff and is very much based on outcomes. For example if you meet this criteria in the standard you should be able to prove X, more assistance on achieving the required outcomes can be sought from qualified SAM consultants.
Dash 2 refers to the software asset tag initiative; this will help with unidentified software by tagging every file during an install of a software application. An audit tool will then be able to look for tags and be able to correctly identify software. Dash 2 is currently going through an internal vote within ISO with a view to becoming a standard in late 2009.
ITAM Review: Most companies are interested in reducing software costs, proving their license compliance position and gaining visibility and control of their IT Assets – how will the standard help them meet these goals?
There are no quick fixes in Software Asset Management, whatever route or strategy you take, at some point you are going to have to baseline what you have installed and discover what software assets you have. Currently it is a huge project for companies to correctly identify software applications. The developments in the International Standard, if adopted by the software publishers, will make the process of identifying software and assessing which software applications require a license much easier.
ITAM Review: It is a common criticism that too much focus is put on end users to solve licensing issues – what work is being done within the standard to improve the complexity of licensing provided by software vendors?
The success of dash 2 is really down to publisher adoption. Not only will software publishers have to correctly tag their software so that users can identify and license them correctly but older applications that are currently in use will also need to be tagged via a patch, service pack or some other method. Dash 3 will also be looking at software entitlements and trying to assist end users in understanding what they can and can’t do with their software.
ITAM Review: What would you recommend as a next step for organisations interested in Software Asset Management?
I would recommend engaging with a qualified SAM consultant to benchmark your existing position so you can define your strategy, this is where they are and this is where you need to get to. There are no quick fixes, saving money on software is certainly possible but there are not overnight cures. Companies can also buy the ISO Standard and attend courses to improve their knowledge. The ISEB course is a great starting point because it is independent and is widely recognised in the Industry as a credible training body.