Why is SAM such a challenge for organisations?
I spend a lot of my time discussing SAM with organisations who are having problems with software or licensing in one way or another, usually the conversations start with a comment along the lines of "so..we have been notified of an audit from vendor xyz".
We sit, talk about their challenges and what this audit will mean to their business and usually it’s a story of being caught with a hand in the cookie jar, whilst holding an IOU. We use words like unconscious non-compliance and conscious non-compliance and the companies in question feel they sit somewhere in between these states where they know there is an issue and have good intentions of rectifying the problem but usually proactive SAM becomes a difficult cost to justify and this gets prioritised down the list of IT projects, until that audit notice drops.
This raises an interesting question of who should actually own SAM within any organisation. The IT guys? Procurement? Finance?
Who is it that is ultimately impacted by poor or lacking SAM process? Who is it that ultimately signs off on a SAM solution?
The reality is that this needs to be a business owned and supported decision implemented via a process that extends across all impacted functions and all functions that have the ability to influence the status of SAM within an organisation.
Traditionally this means IT, Finance, Procurement and HR but can also extend across outsourced partners. More often than not it is the IT Manager who is tasked with managing the SAM process while they struggle to get buy in from the other departments, which are critical to the success of any SAM practice.
Interestingly most of the enterprise scale SAM engagements I have been involved in require sign off from the CFO or other finance related body, so why are they not also involved in a sponsorship of a good internal SAM process?
A good SAM solution itself is actually not all that difficult, requiring only 3 core elements (though this is a little simplistic and dare I say cliche?) -
Getting the right combination of the above, however, is key to the success and this is the single area I see most companies struggling with. In most cases they don’t tick any of the above and those who have set out in earnest for a solution usually start looking for a technology solution, i.e. a tool set, that will magically solve their SAM woes.
It is a good start, but is destined for failure without the other 2 key elements.
Why are these 3 key elements so critical?
A sound and reputable tool set that understands software and licensing is a must. An asset tool just will not meet the requirement. A good tool set will provide the reliable platform of data that a qualified SAM practitioner needs to be able to make the correct analysis based decisions. Not having the right tool set is like playing with Lego blindfolded, you will definitely produce something but it will likely not come close to what you need it to be.
As mentioned previously good process provides the framework for how your organisation can manage and mature its SAM within and across the organisation. It defines how you integrate and manage new purchases, optimisations, retirements and control of your software and licensing assets through the business.
Lastly, having the appropriately skilled people who understand software licensing constructs, contracts, usage rights and the impact to business upstream and downstream that this can trigger is a must. A good SAM resource needs to be able to define new business processes to achieve a level of SAM maturity that will mitigate the risk of audit, lower the cost of ownership and ultimately provide a return on your software and your SAM investment.
Get the above mix right and you are well on your way to a successful SAM practice within your organisation.
Insight specialises in helping organisations manage the SAM for now and into the future. Ask us how we can ease the risk, cost and compliance challenges that software asset management can bring.