If your organization is running an in-house Software Asset Management program, the chances are your SAM team can boil their activity down to one thing: Compliance.
Ensuring your organization isn’t under-licensed (and therefore risking blowing the budget if you’re audited) is one of the prime objectives of software asset managers, but they can offer so much more. License optimization, implementing processes and policies and IT security are just some of the areas in which SAM can save your organization money, but what’s getting in the way?
Whether you’re implementing a new SAM program, or just considering it, it can be difficult to see why its launch can be such a lengthy process. It can take a full six months to execute an in-house SAM program, which raises questions about ROI and its effectiveness. Broadly speaking, there are three steps in introducing SAM to your organization:
Step One: Installing the necessary technology
Software asset management tools are key to your organization’s new SAM process. For most, these include an inventory tool, a license management tool and a life-cycle management solution. Technical challenges, integration issues and configuration problems can really slow things down, especially if IT have other projects to turn their attention to.
Step Two: Training staff adequately
Software license management is a complicated topic and so training staff to use the tools necessary for in-house number crunching is often a lengthy process. Not only must staff be available and brought together, the vendor must also be available to offer the training and depending on the nature of the tool, multiple sessions and knowledge top-ups could also be on the cards.
Step Three: Rolling out the new process
The larger your organization, the more complicated the roll-out phase is likely to be. Despite training, this is new for employees and so you may have trouble with them fully understanding what they’re doing, how they do it, and why they’re doing it in the first place. Without putting a plan in place to ensure staff know what is expected of them, the roll-out becomes disjointed, slowing the launch of your SAM program down.
After the launch of your new SAM program, your organization is faced with the task of gathering software install and usage data for comparison against your software licences. 73 percent of SAM Managers spend the bulk of their time transactional license management tasks, and it’s little wonder. Whether you’re starting from scratch, or replacing an old SAM process this is likely to seem daunting and will likely be highly time-consuming. Allocating time and resource to this activity is essential. Spreadsheets, procurement records and entitlement documentation must be gathered and standardised, which is a huge endeavour in itself, but add to that the chance of uncovering “unplanned unknowns” and your SAM team will struggle to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Reconciling your software licensing data after gathering it may sound simple, but without adequate knowledge and experience of licensing terms and software usage agreements, it’s a dangerous guessing game. An internal resource will require training and familiarity with your organization’s goals in adopting a SAM program, and this may be tricky depending on their current workload. A software license management tool could help ease the burden, but human input is still essential. Your SAM Manager must challenge the data by investigating how devices are being used and simply checking the data being gathered is correct.
Software asset management starts with having the right people involved. The recruitment of a SAM Manager or a SAM team is step one, but ongoing training and the involvement of other relevant parties (like procurement, finance and IT) must be factored in before responsibilities can be assigned and time scales can be agreed.
Focus efforts by analysing your organization’s annual spend and prioritizing the technology you’ll be scheduling for deployment. Group software by vendor and begin with the more simple licensing terms by way of practice before turning to the more complicated licensing schemes. A few “quick wins” will set you on the right path.
Larger organizations often benefit from bigger IT budgets, and so may well consider investing in a tool to automate software asset management to perform license reconciliation and reveal full software usage. This will allow SAM teams to focus on balancing installed consumption data with what’s allowed to be installed. By reassigning and uninstalling misassigned or unused licenses, is where that data becomes business intelligence and where SAM offers your organization real ROI.
What starts as gaining visibility of your organization’s software usage will eventually become the optimization of assets and strategic business thinking. With access to a wealth of software and licensing data, SAM teams can spend their time on tasks that could really make a difference to an organization.