This article was prompted by a discussion with an ITAM Review reader, asking how they should maximise the value of an expensive tool deployment that wasn’t, as yet, delivering results.ITAM tools can be seen as a magic bullet for software asset management – buy the tool, install the agents, all good to go, right? This is far from the truth.
Having a tool can actually be counter-productive, because it generates a pressure to deliver against its purchase cost and ongoing maintenance. In this article we’re going to summarise what to do next now that you’re in this unfortunate situation. I’m going to pull together content The ITAM Review have produced over the years on this subject – a sort of greatest hits of best practice.
This first article will assume that you’re a new SAM Manager with the task of maximising value from your toolset. It will look at what to do first in practical terms, and what your next step is. By the end, you’ll have reached a state of SAM Immaturity.
Think of a factory. You can build a state-of-the-art factory full of technology, but it will produce nothing without two further things – people, and processes. You (still!) need people to run the production line, and you need procedures to tell them what to produce and how to do it. You could build a product without the factory, the factory just makes it more efficient. Starting with a factory is not the way to go when building a product, and the same goes for ITAM.
The ITAM Review’s recommended approach is the 12-box model. This covers building maturity in the People, Process, and Technology domains in detail.
Martin Thompson has written a companion book “Practical ITAM” and we also have an on-demand online course available in LISA. Finally, we also offer regular in-person training.
The 12-box model scales to any deployment scenario and we provide a free maturity assessment to help you identify where you need to focus your efforts.
I realise that you may want to get up and running quickly – I know when I was parachuted into just such a scenario I barely had the time to think let alone read a book. Whilst we don’t recommend this approach if you have no alternative it does give you an easy-to-implement plan to prove to your new boss that SAM is worth investing in. My practical approach to ensuring I was delivering on investment within 3 months was as follows:
Processes are required in order to ensure that all software use is compliant with license terms. At a minimum you need support from an Acceptable Use Policy, a Software Deployment Policy, and a Software Purchase Policy. At this stage you just need to understand your policy landscape rather than make drastic changes. You really don’t want to be throwing policy at people to make them do what you want, but if you have to you need to know what authority you can bring to bear.
Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) – check if your AUP has clauses preventing the use of unauthorised software and unlicensed software.
Software Deployment Policy – typically these ensure that software is only deployed through official channels – e.g. via an authorised request to your Service Desk. As with the AUP the aim is to make people think twice before installing, for example, Dropbox.
Software Purchase Policy – you know that you’ve got good inventory, but this doesn’t help if you’ve no idea of what software you’re entitled to run. Gathering historical entitlement history is a long-term job. Whilst important it isn’t essential to success. The most pressing need for it is in the event of an audit so it isn’t a priority for all vendors. Your best approach is to get a process in place to ensure all new purchases are recorded. Work directly with Procurement, Finance, and IT to get copies of PO’s raised and goods received and record them in your tool. Whilst this won’t necessarily pick up expenditure originating outside IT it will record spend with traditional vendors, and it is these that present greatest audit risk. Which brings us on to Step 4.
If you’re new to role you should create a very quick high-level risk assessment. Here’s how to do that:
These 4 Steps to SAM Immaturity will get you to the following position:
Now, this is where things get interesting. You need to keep going with the initial plan you laid out – your objectives for the month, quarter and year. But you also need to start thinking about where you want to be strategically. Time to build your Target Operating Model, which we’ll explore in the next article.