I was recently contacted by a frustrated Software Asset Manager on social media who found out that their Senior Management team has selected a new Software Asset Management Technology without his consultation. The SAM Manager tells me that the reason they have purchased this particular solution is because the Senior Management team has a strong relationship with the vendor so they got a large discount.
The SAM Manager believes the new technology totally misses the key requirements they need in order to successfully optimize existing assets, manage contracts and support the business. How can you avoid ending up in a situation like this?
SAM, THE INFLUENCERS
The SAM team are the integral stakeholders who should be the primary influences when assessing Software Asset Management solutions for their organization.
After all, it’s the SAM team which will be the ones using the solution every day to make informed decisions and ensure that other stakeholders receive information relative to their role. So, the SAM team needs to be comfortable and confident that the solution they will be using fits the organization and provides the right data that will help them add value, save money and mitigate risk.
However, they also need to think about the mindset of the Senior Management team they are pitching the solution to. Push the fact that the recommended technology from the SAM team will benefit the organization as a whole and not just the SAM team.
BUILDING YOUR HITLIST OF REQUIREMENTS
Speaking to the IT Manager for a small contracting and construction firm; he did exactly that when looking for a SAM solution. He contacted all his key stakeholders, including the Head of IT Procurement, Service Desk Lead, Global Head of IT and the Datacenter Infrastructure Manager, and asked for their top priorities before putting forward his list of requirements and suggested a solution.
By having the information required at his fingertips he was able to put forward a strong argument for the technology he identified, with support from key stakeholders validating the fact that the technology fulfills their requirements as well. He also mentioned that he presented this information at a high-level, so it was easy for the Senior Management to absorb and understand.
He has kindly shared his list of priorities with us:
Software Asset Management
- Centralized license and contract management
- Installed software & associated usage
- Identification of users and their associated hardware and software usage
- SAP License Management
- Easy reporting
- Customizable and easy-to-use interface
- Integration with ServiceNow
- Extra CMDB support
- Hardware, user, and software information to support users
- Ability to easily identify compliance position (free licenses to fulfill a new request?)
- Datacenter structures (clusters and relationships between hosts, guests, virtual etc.)
- Hardware specifications
- Security information (anti-virus list, ability to identify harmful software, blacklisting and whitelisting capabilities)
- Track software spend
- Track the spend pro-rata on software agreements/maintenance
- Be able to report monthly reports on software spend
- Easy to use for Finance Admin Assistants
This list was then presented to the senior management team during a number of regular IT meetings and after an RFP and rigorous testing, Snow License Manager was chosen as the technology of choice. The IT Manager stated that Snow ticked all the boxes, especially with Snow Optimizer for SAP Software and the fact that the UI is so easy to use.
By presenting the challenge, and then the solution, the IT Manager believes that this method helped bring out the influencing role that SAM should have in the decision-making process.
‘SELLING’ TECHNOLOGY TO SENIOR MANAGEMENT
Senior Management may already have a SAM technology lined up. It is up to the SAM Team to convince them otherwise. As influencers in the selection process, the SAM team needs to ‘sell’ the SAM solution they have identified as being the best one for the job. What works best and really makes an impact on Senior Management is when you can use examples based on real data that you have already collected from your organization.
Remember, in this situation the SAM team are the influencers – they are going to be relied on as having the knowledge and experience of which technologies work and which don’t. In the scenario listed below, we have two different SAM solutions. Solution A is the SAM team’s choice. They identified the requirements they have and found a solution that fits the bill. Solution B is the Senior Management’s choice.
Senior Management estimate that they can purchase Solution B with three years’ maintenance and support 40 percent cheaper than Solution A. The SAM team must convince Senior Management that Solution A not only fits the needs of the SAM team but it actually will save far more money in the long term.
Solution A [SAM Team’s choice]
- It can manage sophisticated license models such as virtualization, processor/core and sub-capacity
- It integrates with our existing Service Management solution to help populate an accurate CMDB. Provides sophisticated usage stats. We will be able to proactively remove unused software and harvest licenses within a week, saving roughly 20% of our software budget
- Autodesk is causing us the biggest problems and poses the biggest compliance risk. We can identify all installs of Autodesk products and generate an Effective License Position within hours so we know how to rectify the risks.
- We are able to import all of our licenses and contracts so we have a central management function. This will provide greater visibility and help put us in a stronger position when renegotiating vendor contracts.
- It will help us to manage our software spend and forecast future budgets.
- It normalizes our install data so we have complete visibility on bundles, editions, versions and usage rights.
Solution B [Senior Management choice]
- Short-term cost savings as the Senior Management team negotiated the deal
- This solution provides limited usage stats or not enough granular information. Therefore, the SAM team will have to perform internal audits and ask users if they are still using the software they have installed on their machines. We will have to take their word for it.
- Lack of normalized data means we only see the title of the software (such as Microsoft Project), but we are unable to identify if that is the ‘Standard’ or ‘Professional’ version. We will have to identify this manually. Again, we can see what’s installed versus what our entitlement is but we will have to manually identify instances of non-usage. Risks will be addressed once we hear back from the users.
- We can add financial information, but there is no way of identifying trends to help predict future software budgets. Will have to track spending through spreadsheets or other technologies.
- Can’t manage virtual environments very well.
- Can’t integrate with our Service Management solution.
Whilst Solution B will be 40 percent cheaper to purchase, the struggle and manual effort that will go into producing results will quickly take the shine off any cheap deal the Senior Management team can get. No usage stats mean quick license optimization processes and cost savings go out the window, as does understanding bundling, cross editions, upgrade and downgrade rights, and multiple version rights due to a lack of normalized data.
The SAM solution will also be deployed in isolation with no form of integration with existing technologies. Different data sources mean inconsistencies, so the SAM team will have to perform a manual audit of data before making an intelligent decision. Finally, when you consider that Solution B struggles with complex licensing environments such as virtualization or the datacenter, you are stuck with a solution that can only proactively manage a certain percentage of your estate.
Straightaway this causes problems as you cannot optimize all your software assets.
Solution A, on the other hand, has all the features required to make an impact in the near and far future. Based on the analysis of the environment by the SAM team, they have identified that Solution A can help them clean up the mess and help optimize the environment moving forward. Usage information is critical in optimizing software licenses.
The SAM Manager at the small contracting and construction firm said that he doesn’t know how you could possibly know how to optimize your licenses without usage information.
THINK LONG TERM
Decisions made based on a short term “win” will not result in long-term successes. Sure, Senior Management may save 40 percent by purchasing a solution that isn’t fit for purpose, but unfortunately, that money will be swallowed up in over-licensing or fending off audits or squandered through lack of optimization. If the SAM team has identified that the technology is difficult to use on a daily basis, then extra SAM resource will be required meaning generating simple reports or generating a compliance position will take longer with greater effort.
It is up to the SAM team to use real data to convince Senior Management to invest in the right technology rather than the cheapest.
Your SAM technology needs to be fit for purpose. Other technologies such as SCCM and Service Desk solutions claim to be able to do SAM, but don’t have the necessary functionality as a dedicated SAM solution.