The status of SAM: this is how WoningNet does it

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Software is becoming increasingly important to organizations and therefore managing software is as well. How do organizations cope with this? And how is software asset management (SAM) perceived by people with different job roles and responsibilities? To map out where SAM stands in 2018, over the next few months professionals from the field will take turns discussing this topic. In this article: Dirk Jan Zethof, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and Contract Manager at WoningNet.

Dirk Jan, what can you tell us about WoningNet and your role in the organization?

Since 2001 WoningNet is the shared service center for housing corporations in the area of housing mediation. WoningNet offers state-of-the-art IT solutions that support 240 corporations in renting out their properties and helps one and a half million registered house hunters to consciously and realistically choose a home. A total of 130 employees work at WoningNet in Weesp. I myself have two roles: as CISO I am responsible for security of our systems and as contract manager I take care of all purchase contracts, both within as well as outside the IT department.

Zooming in on software contracts: how would you describe the current state of software asset management at WoningNet?

Software asset management has become much more important at WoningNet in recent years. The crisis played a big role in this. Since then we have been paying more attention to costs. This became an increasingly important goal internally, and our customers also steered toward it. We have improved step by step. Purchasing software is centralized and formalized and all licenses are now kept in one contract administration, whereas it was fragmented before. We regularly check whether we purchase too many or too few licenses and whether we still need all current software products. Whena notice period for a contract renewal is approaching, a workflow is automatically started to prevent us from just committing to a new contract for a few years. This way you make sure you don’t realize that a contract was (tacitly) renewed – an option that is often included in the conditions – only once you receive the invoice.Business users themselves are responsible for the decision whether or not to renew. It took a while before we had insight into all contracts historically but now our SAM approach is well on track.

What do you think are the advantages of a clear software contract administration and a centralized purchasing process?

Being in control is in my opinion the main benefit of a properly set up software contract administration – that is also my responsibility as a contract manager. It really matters that there are no surprises or unforeseen costs, this way you always stay within budget. Moreover, having such an overview is valuable for the continuity of the organization. A centralized purchasing process delivers financial benefits, but it’s also essential from a security point of view, which is helpful in my CISO role.

Does the emergence of SaaS and IaaS have an impact on your SAM approach?

WoningNet also takes part in the as-a-service trend. We already have subscriptions for a number of software products that are crucial to our service offerings. On the one hand, this provides flexibility as being compliant is a lot easier. On the other hand, it is more difficult to get a grip on the costs, because people within a certain environment can easily tick additional options. Even if it is only a few dollars per user, such an amount can add up quickly per month. In addition, we are struggling with the freedom that software vendors give themselves to adjust the prices of their subscriptions at any time. This means that the aforementioned surprises and unforeseen costs are actually back.

Can you give an example of that?

Recently Google adjusted its pricing model for Google Maps. That price increase went into effect within a month, which meant that we suddenly had to align very quickly with all housing corporations that purchase this service, asking whether they were willing to pay the extra costs. And recently Atlassian changed its model from tiered pricing to pay per user. Previously, with over 90 users, we were in the 51 to 100 users tier. The switch to pay per user within a month resulted in a huge cost increase. It is difficult in terms of budget to anticipate such unexpected price increases. This is where most of our attention goes out to now, because we already have the ‘old’ licenses under control.

This article was also published on Computable.

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