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Nine Commonalities Among Successful SAM Programs: Notes from the Field

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:

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Dana has been working in the IT industry for over 15 years, mostly with Microsoft System Center CM2007/SMS and recently with Software Asset Management (SAM) technologies and processes. Dana got his start with technical writing by submitting Systems Management Server (SMS) 2.0/2003 articles to back in 2000. He continued that effort with myITforum. Dana also published two SMS books entitled Distributing Software with Systems Management Server 2003 and The Start to Finish Guide to SMS Software Delivery.

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