As we embark on the year 2019, the proliferation of new technologies and systems within the enterprise is only growing. This includes both updating existing legacy systems as well as adopting new cloud technologies. With this growth in tech stack complexity, do you have a clear picture or understanding of your overall IT application environment and software spending practices? Many organizations will develop a Software Asset Management (SAM) program or bring in a Managed SAM Service (MSS) provider, but the number of organizations that are practicing effective SAM is staggeringly low. Questions that we often ask customers to get a better idea of the effectiveness of their SAM efforts include:
- Is your MSS driving effective vendor compliance or the expected cost savings?
- Do you have a reactive or proactive MSS?
- Does your partner actively drive changes, challenge your decisions, and make you aware of opportunities for cost savings, license optimization and potential termination of maintenance/vendor agreements that don’t deliver value?
- Have you invested in a program and MSS partner, but are having to regularly manage the vendor to deliver on your SAM expectations?
Evaluating a Managed SAM Service (MSS)
Further complicating things are the various flavors of MSS programs offered by vendors:
- Basic, Standard or Enterprise; OR
- Bronze, Silver or Gold.
In some instances, they are proactive and address the top challenges and risks of SAM; however, in most cases, the managed providers are reactive in nature and simply respond to and support inbound vendor audits. The Enterprise or Gold offering is intended to be a full-service solution, but typically leaves customers feeling like they haven’t received full value from their SAM investment.
There isn’t a “silver bullet” for SAM, but there are certain considerations you should be aware of prior to selecting a tool and partnering with an MSS provider. Understanding your SAM program requirements and what you expect your MSS vendor to deliver is essential; ensuring these inputs make their way into your MSS agreement is a must to avoid misalignment throughout your term.
From our point of view, these benefits should be part of your MSS today and tomorrow (at a minimum):
- Import and ongoing management of relevant vendor contract terms and license entitlements
- Compliance or Effective License Position (ELP) reporting on a regular basis (e.g., quarterly)
- Software license optimization
- Software and maintenance cost reduction
- Cloud migration software license readiness
Keys to a Successful MSS
People and Roles
One of the biggest blockers of effective Software Asset Management is when an organization lacks the relevant people, program governance or expertise to manage the essential function. With the right resources in place (full-time and consultants where needed), you should have the proper thought leadership and staff in place to achieve SAM goals and objectives. Starting with the RACI model, questions you should ask are as follows:
- Responsible – Who is responsible? Who is the decision-maker?
- Accountable – Who is accountable for a process or project?
- Consulted – Are there any consultants involved? What’s the role of the consultant? What are the KPIs of the consultant?
- Informed – Who will use the information for the benefit of the organization?
The second element to a successful SAM program is to ensure you have a solid handle on your procurement process across software, hardware and IT services. Some questions to ask yourself are:
- Is technology procurement centralized or decentralized?
- How are product lifecycles maintained, managed and decommissioned? How do you make software upgrade or product migration decisions?
- Is your Information Security team consulted or made part of software sourcing decisions?
- Are the SAM processes documented and instated across the company?
- Is it clear who is responsible, accountable, consulted and the beneficiaries of SAM data?
- How do you accommodate new product requests, deployments and support of IT assets?
- How is the IT budget impacted by software acquisitions and vendor true-ups?
- Is it a central IT budget or are the costs allocated to certain business units/departments (e.g., showbacks or chargebacks)? What is the process for internal invoicing if not centralized?
- When someone wants to add “free” software or requires a new license from an existing vendor, what processes are in place to handle the request?
More importantly, it’s critical for management to buy-into the value and importance of a SAM program and its initiatives. Once you have funding secured and IT executive sponsorship, you can start to design, engineer, and implement the appropriate processes to ensure effective software asset lifecycle management.
Finding the Right SAM Tool
Last but certainly not least, performing proper due diligence and selecting the appropriate SAM tool is essential to your program success. A SAM tool’s main function is to provide DATA! And complete and reliable data often leads to better decisions for your enterprise. But exactly what DATA are we talking about?! To enable accurate decision-making regarding software licensing & strategy, the following data elements are essential for collection and reporting by your SAM utility:
- Hardware – Laptops, Physical Servers, Virtual Servers, as well as details of Processors, Cores, Sockets, Clock speed, RAM, warranty and storage etc.
- Software – Vendors, Applications, Suites, Bundles, Versions, Editions, Features
- Users – Quantities, Access Rights, External Users, Indirect Access
- Cloud – Web Applications, SaaS Providers
- Virtualization – Virtualizations rules for Disk Processor Enclosure (DPE), Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS), Anti-Affinity, High Availability (HA)
- Usage – Total Usage (How much have the applications been opened?), Active Usage (How long have the applications been actively used)
- PUR – Product Use Rights (License Metrics)
- Security – EOL, Antivirus, PUA and Malware detection.
It’s Table Stakes: You need the right tool, right partner and right processes
To reach your intended SAM destination, you need to have an effective pilot (people and process) and a reliable plane (technology). If you have one without the other, you’ll never get off the ground and complete your SAM mission as both are critical and highly dependent on the other. If you have the best plane in the world, but no pilot or thought leader to provide controls and governance, you won’t get anywhere.
Conversely, if you have the best pilot in the world but no plane, liftoff is not possible. Also, it is extremely important to assess where you are (current state) and determine where you want to go (future requirements) to ensure a smooth SAM journey. In order to do so, you’ll need to make sure you have the right plane (tool) and the right pilot (people/consultant) in place and engaged to help you reach your SAM goals, while consistently aligning to business objectives.
Xensam + Connor Consulting = Better Outcomes
To elevate your SAM function further, a mature SAM program will enable better decisions, empower better control, simplify, and expedite essential technology changes, making IT management more agile.
Managed SAM Service in 2019 is more than just the traditional model of People, Process and Technology; it’s further maturating the program to help IT and business leaders make better-informed decisions. It should be a proactive type of SAM that drives tough questions internally like whether maintenance or support is still needed for a given application, and how to provide the business with useful and relevant data to make smarter or quicker decisions. With all the data gathered and analyzed by the SAM function, this information needs to be shared and made available more regularly to leaders across the company.
SAM should deliver software compliance, cost savings, and license optimization; however, it should also help spark difficult questions around usage and the value of IT investments. Challenge internal buyers and software vendors on software purchases being evaluated/proposed or shoved down your throat at quarter or year-end! Stop paying for what you are not using or what you don’t need and pay less for more up to date applications.
- Are you paying support and maintenance fees for an application that will soon be displaced?
- For Microsoft, do you still purchase/pay for Office365 or Office Professional Plus because of Outlook, Exchange, Word, and PowerPoint? Is it time to reconsider your purchasing strategy?
- Are you being kept hostage by a particular vendor because you have no other options?
- What are you really getting for your support and maintenance spend each contract term?
In addition, IT executive support for the SAM program and its initiatives is a must, and the SAM team should strive to self-fund its existence through “low hanging fruit” or IT vendor optimization opportunities, leading to a more significant and valued role across the organization. Ensuring SAM is deemed a strategic asset and federated across more parts of the organization for technology decision making will ensure long term IT operational efficiency, cost management, and organizational alignment.
The unified offering of Xensam and Connor Consulting can holistically meet your SAM needs. Xensam provides you with an effective solution to propel you down the right path on your SAM journey, delivering more accurate and reliable software discovery data and proactively defining license compliance activity. With a practical and tailored professional services approach, Connor Consulting will help ensure the necessary people, processes and program governance are in place to be able to quickly act upon the rich information and reporting that Xensam provides, resulting in significant IT cost reductions, software audit risk mitigation, and an overall better experience for SAM users and beneficiaries across the enterprise.