Software Asset Management (SAM) is catching on with most organizations. When I started in this space, about five years ago, I had to Google the term to figure out what it was. These days, nearly everyone knows that we must be able to prove our entitlements to install and use software, otherwise we must be willing to pay the penalty. If you are part of an organization that still needs convincing of the value of earmarking a reasonable budget for SAM, read on for some tips.
Can anything of value actually be gained from a SAM team of one? Sure, especially for organizations with less than 500 users (more about larger firms in a bit). Implementing basic SAM processes don’t require tools, especially for smaller firms. Focus on the following points (taken from ISO-19770 or ITIL standards):
- Contract renewals for key vendors. Analyze the contract in advance and work toward improving the deal.
- Identify users who are actually using the software and reharvest licenses where possible.
- Obtain accurate hardware inventory process and collect unused devices. You must have an accurate hardware inventory in order to manage software assets.
- Implement and enforce controls on requesting and purchasing licenses.
- Take advantage existing inventory tools or use free ones to perform manual reconciliation for baseline (point in time) license positions.
What is realistic?
A low-budget SAM program can actually be sustainable for small organizations depending on the goals and appetite for risk of the company. More mature SAM goals, such as optimization do require more budget for hardware inventory analysis (CPU cores, processes, threads, virtualization, etc), product use rights and automation. This is where the added expense of proper SAM tools and added staff come in. The good news is, adding these additional items to the SAM program can provide exponential ROI over the 1-person show approach.
For larger organizations, it will be more difficult to have a sustainable SAM program with such limited resources. Most of the points listed previously can be utilized to build the case for a SAM program budget, based on real cost savings data from your organization.
Is Level 4 (Optimized) SAM Maturity for Everyone?
The short answer is no. Firstly, SAM should be applied on a vendor-by-vendor basis. Secondly, the needs of the business should dictate the maturity level that will be maintained for a particular vendor. Why spend the time and effort to maintain an optimized position for a targeted software vendor if there is no business case for it? This is where SAM programs can get into trouble, misdirection of resources.
A SAM program should be treated as iterative min-projects, each with a specific set of deliverables. The deliverables should move the organization’s maturity level along the continuum for targeted vendors, while ignoring many vendors. For example (assuming availability of an adequate budget), some companies are perfectly happy to have 2 vendors that are optimized, 2 vendors with baseline positions, with the remaining software titles having only inventory collected. In this case, the 2 optimized vendors could be Microsoft and Oracle with baselines for Adobe and IBM. This approach would support cost savings for the large footprint of Microsoft products and the high cost of Oracle server software while protecting against audits for Adobe and IBM. The approach would also provide visibility into all software inventory, setting up an infrastructure to create baselines and then optimize additional vendors in the future. This is simply an example. The point is, let your business goals drive your SAM program goals on a vendor-by-vendor basis.