This post is a review of Rory Canavan’s Ten-Step SAM Guide. I’m all about promoting useful content and tools to the ITAM/SAM community. This e-book definitely falls into that category.

To summarize, the content is a concise, but comprehensive guide for a new SAM program manager, or any stakeholder new to SAM. The technical jargon is stripped out but the important high-level concepts and framework for a SAM program remain. If you are looking for a Cliff Notes guide to get you or a SAM team member started in the right direction, I wholeheartedly recommend this guide!

Section headings include the following:

  • Governance
  • Scope
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Data Sources
  • Tool Selection
  • Policies, Processes and Procedures
  • Implementation
  • SAM Reporting
  • Continuous Improvement


Here’s the Introduction:

This e-book has been put together to act as kick-off document for anyone who might have been asked to create and maintain a SAM Framework that would be capable of sustaining a company in effectively managing its software assets in the medium- to long-term. It has been written to appeal to Stakeholders who might have to dip in and out of a SAM Program, and so is not bogged down in acronyms or technical jargon.

With the advent of “Software as a Service” (SaaS) making greater in-roads into mainstream commerce, the impression in some people’s minds might be that SAM is going the way of the “buggy whip” (please see the movie “Other People’s Money” starring Danny De Vito and Penny Miller for an explanation of that analogy) However, certain business sectors either for security or regulatory reasons are not permitted to off-load their IT demands to cloud-based providers, and so SAM has to stay as flexible as ever in understanding technology, its delivery mechanisms and how this influences software licensing.

Get the Ten-Step SAM Guide from Amazon:

Ten-Step SAM Guide

Connect with Dana via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/danadaugherty to discuss this post or possible employment opportunities.

SW SuppMaint

A while back I posted a review of the SAM Process Kit Version 2, created by SAM Charter. The process kit has been updated with the following process:

Software Support & Maintenance Review Process 

This would likely not be considered core SAM, but should absolutely be in place if we are to make use of valuable data at our disposal. The review of value delivered by Support & Maintenance contracts should be instigated off the back of a software contract renewal. Support & Maintenance costs can add a substantial levy to the cost of software so an examination of its worth to the business should be a built-in step to any decision relating to contract renewal.

Much more detail and an offer for $50 off the retail price can be found at this link to Rory’s article on The ITSM Review.

Connect with Dana via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/danadaugherty to discuss this post or possible employment opportunities.

grow up

David Foxen’s article, The Immaturity of SAM (nice job David) got me thinking about the real causes of immature software asset management (SAM) programs, Read on for advice to organizations on how to move to the next level. David’s comments, indicating that less than 50% of organizations have a SAM tool, rings true with my experience in the field. I found a somewhat recent (12/2014) study done by IDG and referenced by a CIO magazine quick pulse article. The research was more focused on large organizations, but helpful on the overall subject, and well worth the minute it took to register for the download.

The IDG report indicates that most (80%) large organizations do have license management strategies in place but their SAM tool is inadequate for supporting higher levels on the SAM maturity spectrum. I would also submit, that most organizations do not have an adequate number of properly trained staff to initiate and operate a SAM program.

More Advanced Tools

Let’s have a closer look at the tool aspect of this maturity issue. Based on the previously referenced IDG report, about 60% of large organizations are stuck in the early SAM maturity phase of gathering and managing inventory. They desire the ability to be more strategic with SAM and employ Software License Optimization (SLO) and Advanced License Optimization (ALO). Strategic SAM is really were the cost savings comes into play. Strategic SAM provides better visibility into the Enterprise, especially into the data center where advanced technologies, such as virtualization tend to muddy the waters. One of the hurdles of employing these more advanced strategies is having a more mature SAM tool with the following feature set:

Reference (SKU) library, product use rights library, simulation for what if scenarios, support for virtualization and clustering, support for all the major license types

Properly Trained Staff

While the IDG report doesn’t reference SAM program staff, it only makes sense to have a staff that is properly trained with around SAM processes and the operation of the tool being used. My experienced has been that this is a key area that is over looked for new SAM programs. SAM is a complicated discipline that touches all aspects of the business. I’ve been involved in many SAM program implementations where staff are “on loan” from other projects or don’t have a clue about what SAM is about.  This won’t cut it.

Root Cause of SAM Immaturity

In this case, when speaking about the large organizations, the root cause is commonly a lack of support by an executive sponsor. There are so many projects and programs competing for funding at any company, it’s no wonder. There must be a SAM program champion within the organization to build a case for proper program support that will “bring folks to the light”.


While there has been progression, organizations seem to be stuck in lower SAM maturity levels. When speaking about larger organizations in particular, survey data seems to support that more advanced tools will enable them to develop strategic SAM initiatives such as SLO and ALO. Overall SAM maturity is bound to follow as processes are better supported, and staff members are properly trained and assign in adequate numbers to support such initiatives.

It all starts with building a case. To ITAM/SAM managers, I would encourage you to reach out to advanced SAM tool vendors. Here’s a recent list of SAM tool providers, recognized by The ITAM Review. As part of their pre-sales initiatives, any tool vendor should be willing to help you build a case (free of charge). Here is a helpful article from The ITAM Review to get you started.


Dana is currently seeking employment opportunities. You can view his experience and communicate via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/danadaugherty


Customers that succeed in implementing successful SAM programs tend to have most of the following points in common. The best-case scenario, is to have these points in place prior to SAM tool selection. Functioning in the role as Sr Project Manager for 2+ years, with a leader in the software asset management (SAM) tool and consulting services industry, has uniquely positioned me to provide some notes from the field on this topic.  Whether you are a consultant, services provider, customer or simply an organization planning to implement SAM on your own, you can benefit from these observations.

Strong Executive Sponsor Support – This point is key above all the others. Programs that have true executive support find a way to overcome struggles that occur in the other areas listed in this post. If you need more support, build a business case, based on the metrics at your company. Start with one vendor, or one software title and prove out the value based on financial savings and risk avoidance. This can quickly help you to strengthen support for SAM.

Clear SAM Program/Project Goals – A good SAM program should be a series of iterative SAM projects to drive the maturity level of the program. The program manager need to have the answers to these questions: What does “done” look like for this project? What overall goals does the program attempt to obtain?

Well-defined Scope – The scope of each project must be clearly defined in the Statement of Work (SOW) between the customer and the SAM service provider. Beyond the SOW though, the customer must be able to support the scope of any project with its own resources, both with staff members and funding. Commonly, failure occurs because the project scope is too large for customers to sustain.

Dedicated Program/Project Staff – Most projects will not be effective when project staff members are “borrowed” or shared with other teams. Key project members, such as a technical lead (during tool implementations), entitlement data subject matter experts (SMEs) (during licensing engagements), must be dedicated to the project. Once the initial project is complete, there must be enough trained staff to operate in program mode.

Access to the Data – The proper access to device (inventory/discovery) data must be provided to inventory/discovery tools and team members. Software license entitlement data must be clean, accurate and accessible. Electronic data subject matter experts (SME) and data structure experts must be available to provide direction and data samples to the project team in order for the team to develop automated import routines.

Understanding of the Organization’s SAM Maturity – A SAM assessment should be done prior to initial project and then at strategic points along the program’s maturity spectrum. This will allow the program team to remain focused on aspects of the program that need attention, while celebrating the team’s successes.

SAM Processes Development Plan – There must be a plan in place to move the program from its current maturity level to the next level and beyond. The SAM program manager should be using a framework/model (ISO-19770, Microsoft SOM, 12 box model, SAM Charter Process Kit) as a reference against the program to create a plan of continuous improvement to move forward.

Adequate Funding – This really goes hand-in-hand with understanding the organizations SAM maturity and having clear SAM program/project goals. At the onset of program/project initiation, management must have an understanding that SAM is not a sprint to a license position for a specific vendor (set of vendors). It must be a never ending journey, an ongoing program. Properly run, a SAM program will return more value than the cost of implementing and operating. Investments into the program should be understood prior to program initiation.

Training – While staff training is included as part of the SAM processes, I wanted to call it out here. Organizations that try to implement SAM without either having a properly trained staff, or plans to provide required training, are doomed to failure. Consider skills in three categories, SAM processes, software licensing expertise and SAM tool operations.

In my experience, it’s has been rare to have customers with all nine of these points in place at the onset of their first SAM project initiation.  You can increase the likelihood of success by ticking as many of these points off in advance of initiating. Again, executive support is key! Focus there first.

Note: Dana is currently seeking employment opportunities. You can view his experience and communicate with him via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/danadaugherty

SAM Assessment

The SAM Process Maturity Assessment is conducted as an online survey, offered by SAM Charter. The product of the assessment is a comprehensive report with Best Practice recommendations. The report provides guidance  on the critical areas business and IT operations that need to be targeted to elevate Software Asset Management (SAM) maturity. This is an excellent way for organizations to perform a self-initiated assessment of their SAM program.

What is included?

End Users are asked to supply details about the organization, mainly around device types and counts, along with SAM program goals. Next, the end user is asked to supply answers to a series of questions from ten SAM competency areas (see the previous figure). An initial question is posed and then follow on questions are asked, based on the response provided to the previous question. There are 100 questions in all. SAM Charter supplies a PDF help file to guide to end users through the survey. The questions can be answered in stages, providing ample time for completion. A Terms and Conditions agreement is entered into, between the end user and SAM Charter prior to beginning the assessment to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of end user data. Within five minutes after the completion of the survey, a comprehensive report will be emailed to the end user. The report I viewed was 29 pages long. 14 pages were devoted to customized recommendations based on the end user inputs. The remaining pages contained valuable SAM Best Practice program recommendations.

Who should use it?

This assessment is great for all levels of SAM maturity. Those organizations that are just beginning to consider a SAM program can get some great recommendations about what areas to get started on. More mature SAM programs can receive validation in areas where they are doing well, and a list of areas to focus their efforts.

How to get it?

SAM Process Maturity Assessment is meant to be utilized as a tool for independent SAM consultants, to help organizations, as part of an engagement. Contact Rory at SAM Charter for recommendations of a consultant in your geographic area. A free 20 question SAM assessment is in the works to be offered in future. Keep your eye on the SAM Charter for that offering.

Software Re-harvesting Process - Page A

I was wondering about all the recent buzz around the SAM Charter Process Kit v2. I recently reached out to Rory Canavan and asked if I could have a look for myself. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

Generally, organizations become overwhelmed with the thought of implementing SAM. That’s why so many programs end up failing. They tend to quickly get bogged down when using existing SAM industry framework models.

This kit provides an excellent starting point for SAM programs and includes the following:

  • 22 Real-world processes are listed, well documented and include visual process maps. See the 4 images included later in this post for the Software Re-harvesting Process.
  • Customizable visual process map templates can be purchased separately or bundled with the SAM Charter Process Kit v2 for a discounted price.
  • Kick-starting Your SAM Program section includes recommendations and links to additional free downloads from the SAM Charter website.
  • Suggested  SAM program KPIs
  • In all, 144 pages of useful reference material.


Any SAM program could benefit from this process kit. It can help those programs that have lost their momentum or those that have made missteps to get back on track. Even more mature programs could use this kit as a process  tune up.

I highly recommend this process kit. More information is available by clicking on the link:


SAM Charter Process Kit v2 Samples

SAM Kit 1
SAM Charter Process Kit: Process Description
Software Re-harvesting Process - Page A
SAM Charter Process Kit: Process Map A
Software Re-harvesting Process - Page B
SAM Charter Process Kit: Process Map B
Software Re-harvesting Process - Page C
SAM Charter Process Kit: Process Map C

If you’ve read much of my content in the past, you know I’m all about SAM processes. There are currently two generally accepted frameworks within the SAM industry:

ISO-19770Pros: Very comprehensive, vendor agnostic. Cons: With 28+ processes, it’s overly complicated to implement.

Microsoft SAM Optimization Model (SOM)Pros: Fewer competencies, easier to implement. Cons: Not comprehensive enough. Focused on desktop footprint, perpetual licensing and Microsoft specific software and immediate events (audits, true ups) and leaves out data center, non-Microsoft vendors, people and longer term processes to help sustain a SAM program.

There is a new approach that I stumbled across recently, called the ITAM Review 12 Box Assessment Model (see the figure at the top of this article). The new model is really the best of both worlds, lightweight but comprehensive enough to cover all the requirements of a healthy SAM program. Competencies are categorized by People, Processes, and Technology. This is a more logical approach for many folks. While it is actually offered as an assessment service by an independent consultancy, the 12 Box Model could be adopted by organizations as a process model because:

  • It’s vendor neutral
  • It’s based on twelve key competencies of a modern SAM practice
  • It’s lasting objective is SAM as business as usual and a state of audit readiness for major software suppliers
  • It recognizes that SAM doesn’t happen overnight and must happen gradually as a process of continual service improvement
  • It has a good balance of people, process and technology


Here’s a link to the original article about the 12 Box Model along with an informative video. You can click through a link within the referenced article to find out more info about the assessment service as well.

Post update: If you are interested in using the 12 Box Model assessment service, The ITAM Review as added a post on outputs, including visuals, of the assessment called 12 Box Sample Output.

Connect with Dana via LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/danadaugherty to discuss this post or possible employment opportunities.


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.


One-Person Show

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.