We often talk about breaking down silos within the IT department, but what does that mean exactly?
In the context of Software Asset Management (SAM), at Snow we believe that means making SAM a truly collaborative process where multiple stakeholders from across the organization can play an active role in optimizing the availability, licensing and cost of the software in use.
Okay, that still sounds a little like marketing speak, so let’s investigate some clear examples. For many organizations with more than, let’s say, 5,000 employees, the IT requirements are sufficiently diverse that they need specialist IT staff to manage different parts of the infrastructure.
These organizations will commonly have teams dedicated to service management, end user (desktop) computing and datacenter computing. They might even go further and have dedicated individuals or teams for different platforms or applications, especially for complex software such as Oracle, SAP and IBM. It’s not often that you can find someone who is both a superb Oracle DB administrator as well as well-versed with the SAP ABAP interface.
Then there are teams outside of IT who are equally interested in ensuring that the organization doesn’t over-spend on software licenses or put itself at risk of compliance fines.
These teams might include individuals from procurement, finance, governance and even HR. So that’s a lot of people. All with their own agendas and particular ways of working. Most of them will also be supported by some kind of existing toolset – a financial system for the finance and procurement guys, a help desk solution for the service management professionals, perhaps an IT asset management solution for the team charged with support end user computing. Which is great.
Except we’ve just identified three disparate systems (in reality, there will be far more than just three), none of which are likely to be integrated or even sharing a common dataset. So that means that the individuals responsible for managing different aspects of the SAM program are all using different tools, looking at different data and acting mostly in isolation. Hence we describe them as siloed. It seems logical then that the easiest way to break down these silos is to equip all the relevant stakeholders with an interface to a common solution sharing common data. Logical yes, but it’s only a half-way measure.
To be truly effective, those different stakeholders have to be able to view the most relevant data in a form that makes sense to them. After all, what the service desk guys care about isn’t exactly the same as what the procurement team is interested in, or indeed the SAP administrator.
And so the answer, we believe, is twofold.
First, Snow has created what we like to call ‘Snowboards’ in the multi-user interface of our Snow License Manager solution. The Snowboard (in effect, a customizable management dashboard) is configurable to the individual user and allows different stakeholders to define custom views on the common SAM dataset, which can include hardware and software audit data, license entitlements, contracts and financial information.
Second, Snow is developing integrations with third-party platforms such as service management suites, enabling clean and accurate asset information to be presented within the target solution’s interface. This has the major benefit of reducing the learning curve for staff and preventing the need to ‘screen hop’ from one interface to another.
Now each and every stakeholder involved in the SAM process can simultaneously access a common dataset, but presented in a way to best suit their individual role in managing software and optimizing licenses.
Service desk operatives have instant access to software installs and version information, procurement professionals can see what licenses have been bought and how many are available for immediately deployment, SAP and Oracle administrators can see information on the configuration and licensing of their systems. All from a common dataset and all with a common purpose in mind – optimizing software consumption. And that, we believe, is how you start to break down the siloes in IT management!