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The Successful SAM Manager Series: How to Prioritize Software Publishers


Organizations can have hundreds of software publishers in their portfolio and figuring out which publishers to manage and how to manage them can be a daunting task for any SAM Manager. In this article, we’ll not only share with you some of the most important aspects of prioritizing publishers, but we will also offer tips for how to identify when third party expertise is needed.

Prioritizing publishers

“We need to manage all of the software from all of the hundreds of publishers in our environment.”

Many organizations have the attitude quoted above. It’s unrealistic. So, if you can’t manage everything, what should you manage?

The Pareto Principle, perhaps better known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of results will come from 20% of actions taken. Working with hundreds of clients over the past decade, we’ve found that the Pareto Principle generally applies to software spend as well. Typically, about 80% of a company’s software spend comes from 20% of the publishers they use. The challenge is knowing definitively who those publishers are.

Using the 80/20 rule is a good place to start when deciding which publishers to prioritize, but we’ll also show you that spend is not the only criteria to use. Let’s get into it! 

Spend.
While spend is not the only criteria to use when prioritizing publishers, it is one of the first areas to consider. An important element that many of our clients do not factor into the spend analysis is spend that may be coming through resellers. Understanding who and what is being purchased via your resellers can affect how publishers are prioritized. Here’s a real-life example of publisher distribution (we see environments like this all the time):

What we recommend is that organizations take a stratified management approach to prioritizing these publishers. This means that each publisher will be designated either as Enhanced, Standard, or Long Tail in how they are managed. Here’s what each of those designations mean:

– Enhanced: Managing proactively, measuring license entitlement and consumption accurately, using supplemental procedures where necessary.
– Standard: Managing reactively, depending on license consumption capabilities of SAM tool only.
– Long Tail: Passive pocketbook compliance, by chance some may be measurable by SAM tool by default.

So what does our publisher distribution look like using the Stratified Management Approach?

Other factors to consider

Now let’s talk about some other factors to consider when prioritizing publishers.

Importance.
A good question to ask yourself is “how important is this software to my business?” The software that is most important to your business needs should absolutely be managed. Typically, you’ll be spending the most money on the most important publishers, but this in not always the case. Always consider business needs when prioritizing publishers. A question to ask yourself could be “if we needed to replace the functionality that this publisher and/or application delivers, how critical would it be to the continuity of our business?”

Agreement/True-up dates.
Keep track of these dates! If you have an approaching agreement renewal/true-up date, you should most definitely know deployment/usage/etc. so that you can negotiate from a position of power.  The objective should be for you to be in the position of power so instead of the publisher sharing with you their version of what they want to “sell “ you, you should be armed with the underlining data and guidance so you can “sell” to the publisher what you want to license from them in your next agreement.  Frankly speaking the publishers are not accustomed to their clients knowing how to do this. 

Audit considerations.
It seems like some publishers just love to audit. If you know that a publisher performs frequent audits, prioritize the management of that software. When the audits come, it will limit the disruption to your business. 

Publisher coverage.
Within a publisher itself, there may be different approaches as to how you manage the various applications that are from that publisher. For instance, you may elect to adhere to the guidelines of what constitutes an Enhanced Publisher with database and middleware products and for applications from that publisher, the guidelines for a Standard Publisher or Long Tail may be more appropriate. This is a key area where your trusted SAM provider can offer guidance.

Easy wins.
Another thing to keep in mind is potential “easy wins”. If you know that there is money to be saved or some other great benefit from managing a certain publisher, do that. You’ll look good to your management by being proactive.

Evaluating the need for third-party expertise

Accomplishing all this can seem daunting. There are plenty of third-party organizations that can help ensure that your environment is healthy and that publishers are prioritized appropriately, but how do you know if you need any additional help?

Software Asset Management provider brings good benchmarking and expertise to the table. If you’re facing something that you’ve never dealt with before, chances are good that an established SAM provider has helped many other clients who have also faced that issue and knows how to advise your organization how to best deal with it.

Certain projects, such as tool implementation, can be extremely difficult. Good Software Asset Management providers have implemented SAM tools in many different environments and are keenly aware of potential pitfalls such as onboarding Publisher completely and properly. Some publisher’s products cannot be tracked and measured by the SAM tool and you need to understand those potential gaps and how you will ensure compliance can be measured. Further to the initial onboarding of the publisher, it is also important that you can identify areas of optimization. The tool can typically assist with the first step in this process, but it cannot help may your future technology plans to that of the licensing terms of the publisher. This is where a Subject Matter Expert (SME) for that publisher should be leveraged to ensure those optimization opportunities can be taken advantage of.

Finally, there may be a new trend in the industry where some publishers are taking an alternative approach to license verifications. One of those vendors is IBM with their IBM Authorized SAM Provider (IASP) Program.

With IASP, companies who engage one of the four approved worldwide service providers in a qualifying IBM managed service will be privy to excellent benefits given to nobody else. This includes audit exemption, sub-capacity pricing, not being subject to punitive fees, and more. So, if IBM is one of the publishers that your organization wants to prioritize, you may want to look into IASP. (to learn more about IASP, you can read this article).

Conclusion

We hope these tips will help the SAM Managers out there with not only prioritizing Publishers but also with identifying when to bring in third-party expertise to assist with prioritization and/or assist with managing those Publishers once prioritized.