What processes need to be established to take full advantage of software asset management?

software asset management

To ensure that software asset management is not a one-off trick, but continues to deliver (financial) success in the long term, processes are essential – both internally and externally. Especially with large international corporations, where you’re dealing with many stakeholders and complex IT landscapes.

In the previous blog, I explained that it is wise to outsource specialized areas of software asset management (SAM). The internal SAM team keeps the overview, reports to management and monitors related processes. I would like to go into these processes – with the help of Simone van Sambeek from ITAM Solutions, because they are more important than they might appear at first. They ensure that you are always in control and keep your SAM program easy to implement. Without these processes in place you still face the risk of an audit with associated financial consequences.

Many stakeholders

Especially with (medium to) large organizations, this is simply indispensable. Offices in 140 countries, data centers around the world – that’s a lot harder to map than four servers in your own basement. As SAM manager, you must deal with many stakeholders: purchasing, security, IT, vendor management, your SAM team and often multiple outsourcing parties. The activities of all these stakeholders will affect your final compliance position while the stakeholders are acting from other motives.

Purchasing departments focus on price when buying software, rather than on the contractual agreements the organization should follow. As SAM manager, you’ll want to avoid to have to pay lots for licenses, because it is impossible to live up to these agreements. IT outsourcing parties have not been appointed to monitor contracts – it is expected from them to keep all systems running. They are not paid, for example, for reporting licenses, while they do have a big impact on that – for example, with the hardware setup. With good internal processes and clear agreements, you ensure that everyone is aligned.

Start small

The magic word in the successful establishment of a SAM approach is start small. That means no SAM tool purchase without knowing exactly what you need, not imposing a strategy top down or communicating a new policy at once. The result then would be a bureaucracy no one participates in. First go through these five steps, look at where the risks are and build slowly from there.

If you have done this once for one software vendor, you know what does and does not work and you can repeat it next time – for example, when purchasing a new product. This creates a process in which you involve all stakeholders. That applies for all operational processes covered by SAM.

To be able to speak about a SAM program, you need to set up processes at least around contract and license entitlement management, discovery and inventory management and license compliance management – and if possible also around software asset repository management. By starting with a limited number of software vendors, you can soon demonstrate added value to the organization as SAM department.

Internal awareness

Creating internal awareness and trust in the organization is clearly also part of it. Even though everyone understands the financial value, no one will be very excited about software asset management from the start. It brings additional tasks and responsibilities, which means it takes effort. A pragmatic approach is therefore important. Develop a communication plan, identify the needs of stakeholders and above all share your successes.

As with any change, you need to keep convincing people and demonstrating successes helps with that. This gets easier: the longer you are sharing successes, the clearer the financial benefits will become. “I have saved the organization a million” sounds just a little better than “I know exactly what software exists in our organization”.

These financial results are as it were the icing on the cake for a SAM manager. That’s your big goal, there is a reason this blog series started with this topic. Once this is achieved, then you know that the “maturity level” of SAM is high in your organization. Thanks to clear internal processes (and stamina), you are finally in control.

This article was created in collaboration with Simone van Sambeek of ITAM Solutions.

This article is also published in Dutch on Computable.nl.

This article was published on 13-03-2017