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The Successful SAM Manager Series: Building a Sustainable SAM Program

What does it take to build a sustainable Software Asset Management program? Well it includes the all topics that we’ve written about in previous articles.

– How to overcome internal resistance to SAM
– Prioritizing publishers
– Getting the most out of a SAM tool

A successful SAM program also requires a solid plan. That’s what we’re talking about in this article.

Establishing a Software Asset Management plan to define success.

When building a sustainable and successful Software Asset Management program, we believe the first step is to establish a vision and develop a plan to achieve the desired goals. Defining key objectives and subsequently capabilities drives defining major initiatives. A plan should consider the People, Policy / Process, and Technology required to achieve your goals. Your plan should consider:

– Initiatives to fulfill objectives
– Budget requirements
– Executive buy-in support requirements
– People – internal/external resource requirements
– Changes impacting policy and process

Getting the right people on board.

The next step to creating a sustainable ITAM Program is to get the right people on board. When the right people are included and invested in the ITAM/SAM program, success is much more possible. Of course, not everyone is going to be involved at the same level. We recommend that organizations have a Core SAM team, Extended ITAM team/Stakeholders, and a Steering Committee. Let’s break those down:

Core Software Asset Management team

– Program Director/Manager
– SAM Analyst(s)
– Subject Matter Expert(s)

The Core SAM team are on the ground, doing the day-to-day SAM functions. We recommend that this team meets at least once a week. The SAM team may lean on external resources for subject matter experts.

Extended ITAM/Stakeholders

– IT Operations
– Procurement/Sourcing
– Security
– Legal

The Extended ITAM team/Stakeholders have direct involvement with SAM, but not on a day-to-day basis. These are departments who will be affected by SAM decisions and actions. We recommend they meet, or reporting provided on a monthly basis.

Steering Committee

– Key Executives: CIO, IT Ops, Sourcing, Risk

The Steering Committee will have final say regarding financial investment so it’s vital that they understand the goals and directives of the Software Asset Management program. Not only that, but also the complexity of successful SAM. We recommend the Steering Committee meet on a quarterly basis.

A successful SAM Manager knows how to “manage up” with their executive leadership. A SAM program that lacks proper executive sponsorship is a doomed SAM program.

Defining Software Asset Management success.

Now that we’ve got all the right people on board. We need to define success for the Software Asset Management program. This is going to vary for each organization, but here are a few of the most common things we see:

– Proactive audit response
– Publisher compliance risk reduction
– Cost savings
– Cost avoidance
– Operational efficiency
– Cyber security

Next, it’s important to get specific. For example, what does it mean to successfully reduce compliance risk? Knowing what you are entitled to use, what is deployed in the environment, and being able to reconcile and produce an effective license position would be a great start.

So, these high-level objectives and measures of success are all well and good, but without a more specific outlook, you’re going to have a hard time.

Creating a Software Asset Management roadmap.

We know what success looks like and specifically how to get there, now we can create a roadmap. To create a Software Asset Management roadmap, you need to know where you are, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there. This takes careful planning and evaluation.

There are a lot of things to consider when trying to determine the current state of your SAM program and then where you want it to go. These will vary by organization, but here are a few to think about:

– Processes/workflows
– Roles and responsibilities
– Policies and strategic governance
– Top publisher spend analysis
– Audit response framework
– Procurement/software sourcing
– Compliance and risk management

We recommend that your SAM Roadmap be on a rolling 2-3 year timeframe, broken down by month or quarter. Here’s an high-level example, of course you want to be as granular as you can/need to be.

Make sure that the Steering Committee is on board with this roadmap. That way, they know and will have agreed to deadlines and the priority of tasks.

Measuring & monitoring Software Asset Management success.

Finally, you need to be able to effectively measure and monitor the success of your Software Asset Management program. Establish a way to track against your KPIs and determine with executive sponsors on the frequency of reporting.

If you’re not sure what to measure, you need to go back to your teams and define success. Measure against whatever you’ve decided is success. Here are a few examples of what success might look like and how you can measure your progress.

Risk Mitigation

– Impact of proactive assessment
– Impact of managing publisher audits through independent analysis and operational efficiency
– Security risks identified and acted upon

Cost Savings

– Publisher specific optimization realized (quantify $$)
– Renewals which were supported by the SAM team which identified reduced license and/or maintenance requirements


– Reduced resource hours to support renewals or audit, as a result of tools and processes in place
– Resources and clarified responsibilities, which enable timely response to data and analytics

Wrapping it all up.

Building a sustainable Software Asset Management program is no easy feat. There are a lot of moving parts that need to come together. The Successful SAM Manager has clear goals, the right people on board, a detailed plan of action, and efficient methods to measure success.

Let’s start a conversation.