This may come as a surprise to you, but there are some people that find Software Asset Management and Software Licensing a tedious, dull subject. Not being one of those people, I find it tough to understand how and why they don’t find our industry fascinating. There are thousands of different licensing models, new and innovative ways of licensing core applications and new challenges every day.
In all fairness, if you worked in HR, Marketing or facilities for example, you have other challenges, not an interest in the new way Oracle licenses a database component. That’s up to the SAM and IT teams to worry about and understand. But when you’re in an organisation trying to implement SAM from the ground up, how do you get users excited about what you are trying to achieve? How do you get them on board, helping you reduce risk, optimise licenses and save money?
You make it fun. You make it competitive. You make it a game.
Having never had any form of Software Asset Management function within the organisation, the first step is to explain why you need SAM. The best way of doing this, in my experience, is putting a monetary value against the software assets the user has been given access to or has installed on their machine.
Once a user understands how much money and investment has been made in the software assets they are consuming, their mentality changes. This is where you start to make SAM exciting and fun. At this point, you need the end-user to co-operate and buy-in to your SAM strategy. You need them more than they need you!
Most humans are competitive, and this can play to the SAM team’s advantage. When it comes to reducing risk, optimising licenses and saving money, you can quickly and easily create a visual stimulant that shows the end users the value and potential risk of a certain software vendor. If you have a specific vendor that you have compliance or surplus concerns around, this is the perfect opportunity to let the games commence.
There are a number of ways in which you can gamify SAM. What has worked well for me in the past, and is working now, is departmental cost savings and risk reduction charts. This gives HR the chance to show off how they’ve helped the SAM team reduce X amount by releasing unused licenses, and compare their progress to other departments.
This engages the end-user, and makes them proactive in the management of their own software assets. They think about their own requirements and whether they really need the software.
The other method is to create a ‘totalizer’ that shows all of your savings/cost avoidances across the organisation so far. You highlight the particular department, or Service Desk agent who has been proactive and avoided the most risk and cost.
Take it further – reach for big numbers. Create a buzz around hitting certain targets. Internal communications can be distributed when you are close to hitting a big cost avoidance target. For example, you may have saved £750k so far, and want a big push to reach the magical £1million mark.
“The Race for £1million”. Which department, user or Service Desk agent will be the one that re-harvests a license or avoids a risk to take the overall cost avoidances over the £1million mark? I’ve found that this really creates a hype and bit of romance around an otherwise previously neglected function within the business.
I remember a few years ago I was at a conference in Germany, and a IT Asset Manager stood up and said “the best feeling for me is when an end-user, out of their own steam, comes to me saying they don’t need a license and it can be removed.” Never has a truer word been said.
SAM and software licensing becomes an interest of everyone in the organisation – with end users wanting you to take unused licenses away so they can contribute towards the cost savings. You don’t have to be a mature SAM function to do this either, you just need to communicate, educate and engage with the end users and find a way of making SAM fun.
It is also a fantastic way of making users aware of software licensing, and the knock-on effect is that they will consider the licensing implications when they request a piece of software in the future, or the licensing implications of a project they want to start. It all plays into the hands of your communication and education piece, and getting your SAM function up-and-running.
I can’t promise everyone will share your passion and enthusiasm, mind. But the gamification of SAM just might help you promote the importance of Software Asset Management within your organisation.
Must go, I have a queue of users who want to return inactive software licenses to me, and I need to finish building my totalizer…