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4 Things to Consider Before Committing to a SAM Tool

So, you are hunting for a new SAM tool. Once you get this tool all your license compliance problems will be things of the past, right? Unfortunately, this is a belief that several organizations have. By investing in a SAM tool or solution, the assumption is it will fix ‘compliance problems’. Even worse, this could be the perception of Senior IT Management, who now expects ‘perfect’ results in the license compliance space. This could not be further from the truth. Even the most mature organizations in software asset management know that for truly successful and ongoing compliance management, a SAM tool is only part of the picture. Successful SAM means to have the right people, processes, AND technology. That said, let’s detail a few of the challenges faced when discussing the selection and implementation of a SAM tool.

1. Senior Management Commitment

You have likely submitted, or will submit, a business case including your spend requirements and justifications for a SAM tool. However, do you have an overall SAM plan? It is critical to define a SAM plan that includes not only the implementation of the toolset, but also details key milestones, KPIs that will be measured to demonstrate ROI and the value adds of a tool, and maturity levels including the dates when you expect to reach them. For maturity levels in SAM, it will be useful to reference the Microsoft SAM Optimization Model (SOM) or the ISO-19770 SAM Standard. Achieving Senior Management commitment to a SAM plan can be a challenge but will ensure that the tool selection and implementation are only a first step in the journey of maturing SAM. The SAM plan should be a living document and should be reviewed periodically to ensure that you are on track and achieving what is promised to the business. Often times, there is a perception in an organization that ‘best practice’ is to simply buy a SAM tool. *Pro Tip – Simply acquiring a SAM tool is not a ‘SAM plan’.

2. Gathering Compliance Requirements

As a SAM Manager, or other IT professional, it is important to take a step back and consider the actual compliance requirements and use them to work backwards. For this, you will need the inputs of several more stakeholders– perhaps even those departments you have not even thought of! For example, what are the top 5 software vendors in your organization in terms of annual spend? In terms of maintenance spend? Are there large software contract renewals coming up? Have you suffered through a particularly nasty renewal or audit process with any vendors? Is there a vendor that will be phased in or out of your organization that will require more focus?

Once you collate these answers and analyze them you should begin to create a ‘Top Software Manufacturers’ list for your SAM team to address. From there, you should ask specific questions of the tool vendors- for example, if IBM was a top manufacturer in your organization, you should ensure that the tools you are considering support an import direct from the ILMT IBM License Management tool. Is Microsoft a top manufacturer by spend in your organization? You will want to make sure your tool can calculate license compliance positions based on MLS Reports. The Top Software Manufacturers list is only one sample consideration when selecting a tool. It is recommended to reach out across your organization to IT Service Management, Helpdesk, IT Security, Procurement, Finance, and Legal (to name a few) to collect additional requirements. These can and should be used when rating and selecting the appropriate software asset management technology for your organization. In short, it is very possible this information may lead you towards a different SAM tool you hadn’t considered before.

3. Integration

When considering SAM tools or solutions, you should think about how they will integrate in your existing IT technology and process landscape. If you have extensive virtualization, for example, you will want to ensure that the SAM tool is very good at calculating license consumption based on V-Center and Hyper-V data collection. We recommend constructing a checklist including key system inputs and outputs for the SAM tool. Sample questions might include: Do we have an existing CMDB with hardware data? What types of server OSes do we have and how will we deliver this data? Do we heavily use the Cloud? Will we import financial or organizational data to the SAM tool?

Besides technological inputs and outputs, you will need to address the ‘Process’ part of the SAM picture to ensure success. For instance, to ensure that all purchase data ends up in the SAM tool, you will need to work with Procurement to update their Purchasing and Reseller Management Policies. These should direct end users to utilize and select one or a few channels for Software Purchasing. The Procurement team can then manage these channels to ensure that complete purchasing data will end up in the SAM tool. Similar process considerations can include workstation deployment/scanning agent installation, contract negotiation process involving the SAM data/SAM team, and user adds/removes/changes processes. The key is to understand how processes not owned by your SAM team will impact the quality of data coming into/going out of your SAM tool.

4. Quick Wins

Senior Management LOVES seeing tangible benefits realization that demonstrates value for money. When you are aligning with other stakeholders in your organization during pre-implementation planning, ask what their pain points are in the License Management space and what data would be valuable for them to receive. For example, what if Finance were able to help cancel maintenance contracts on retired hardware assets ahead of their annual schedule with a simple export from the SAM tool? What if you could provide a listing of software licenses that were installed but no longer used to the Procurement team, so they could cross-check before they execute a new purchase? Or a user list of recently deleted users from the business who still held (and were being charged hosting for) Active Directory accounts? Think about the reports the SAM tool can easily produce and be sure to actively champion these results and communicate savings opportunities with the business. One recommendation is to publish a ‘SAM Newsletter’ where you can share the progress of your team and highlight these quick wins.

In conclusion, simply spending money on a SAM tool is not the solution. Even the fanciest tool will fall flat if it is not a part of the larger SAM picture of people, processes, AND technology. Without full commitment from Senior Management to a SAM plan, understanding the requirements of different areas in the business, and thinking about how SAM will integrate into your system landscape, there is a potential for wasted investment on very expensive SAM solutions. However, if you take time to plan up front and consider these aspects, you will have a much better shot at a successful SAM tool selection and implementation.

Have you just purchased a SAM tool and need implementation support? Or do you have an existing SAM solution and want to deliver more value to your business? Maybe you are currently in process of selecting a tool and would like some input? We are here to help. Meet with one of our tooling experts for a free consultation.

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