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SAM in 2021: 10 Key Considerations for a Successful SAM Program

SAM in 2021: 10 Key Considerations for a Successful SAM Program

By Julia Collingburn | May 12, 2021

Most IT professionals agree that 2021 will be a year to do more with what we already have. A software asset management (SAM) program can help you do just that as it delivers comprehensive visibility over your software estate and cloud usage. This insight not only saves you money on licensing but it can also decrease the risk of a costly surprise come audit time.

As we’ve discussed in previous posts in the series, SAM programs deliver the highest ROI when they are staffed and supported appropriately and map to the full software lifecycle. But, when defining your SAM function, there are also some key components you should include to achieve the highest level of success.

Our list below includes areas for program focus and specific tasks you should consider building into your plan. 

1. Governance

Governance offers leadership a roadmap for reaching intended goals and objectives. It translates the "why" behind the "what" of SAM operations into language that is meaningful to business units outside of IT. A policy statement and communications plan which demonstrates senior management (C level) buy-in is crucial – it should also include the objectives of the SAM program and how these align to the overall business objectives of the organization. When creating policies you should: 

  • Capture risk and compliance issues facing the business and blend them into SAM program goals
  • Enable the SAM framework to support business goals
  • Develop a SAM communications policy that articulates the who, when, why and how behind messaging

2. Scope 

It’s important to understand the boundaries of SAM frameworks and plan accordingly. Clearly define what is and what isn’t in scope, what are the priorities and how should those different priorities be managed. 

  • Define platforms and business units within scope to avoid unlicensed software being installed on unmanaged devices
  • Create a publisher plan which defines the priorities and how they should be managed to help focus the SAM team
  • Develop a process that ensures all software inventory is being captured to help drive accuracy in reporting

3. Data

Data management within a SAM framework is vital. Ensure you understand the required data feeds while enforcing quality controls on any data before it reaches your SAM system. It's also important to create an agreed-upon process for validating the data – how will you know you have captured everything? How will you know that you can trust the data? 

  • Develop a process for validating that all data within the agreed scope is being captured and remains up to date
  • Develop a process for validating that all use rights are being maximized and contractual terms are being adhered to
  • If additional metadata is required, ensure it is populated fully, consistently and is kept up to date

4. Systems 

Yet another quality control often overlooked within a SAM framework is the requirements definition for any system used. A SAM manager should closely review the technical and geographic landscape of their SAM scope to ensure that the tools applied can capture, read and interpret the data presented to them. 

  • Build a process that periodically reviews system performance to serve as a health check that ensures SAM framework goals can be met
  • Regularly assess business requirements against the systems that serve them to ensure ongoing relevance
  • Measure the quality of support and maintenance offered by the SAM systems provider

5. Policies and procedures 

Policies and procedures are the glue of software asset management – they form the link between the operational activity and the strategic ambitions of a company. Your policies should offer guidance on how to use any system within the SAM framework to generate a license compliance position. When establishing these policies and procedures, you should focus on:

  • Aligning SAM objectives with the overall business objectives will ensure that SAM data can be used to provide actionable intelligence for other departments
  • Completing a risk/maturity assessment will serve as the baseline for goals and objectives for your SAM framework and provide tangible performance targets
  • Developing a method, means and manner of communication for promoting and updating key stakeholders on SAM progress

6. Implementation 

Implementing a SAM framework is as much about communication and training as it is about the installation of any technical systems. Key stakeholders will need to be told what is expected of them, when and how. Consider developing processes to: 

  • Ensure that the appropriate systems are in place and fully-functional
  • Verify that the appropriate licensing personnel are in place
  • Educate and share a training agenda for personnel charged with specific roles and responsibilities so they are fully informed of any work instructions

7. Control 

Remaining objective and impartially reviewing the performance of your SAM framework as change occurs will provide a solid foundation to drive up SAM maturity within your company. 

  • Create an outline for continuous improvement and review to maintain and measure SAM framework performance
  • Review ITAM staff skills in the use of the systems that comprise the SAM framework
  • Drive SAM maturity

8. Reporting 

Reports are the public face of your SAM framework so ensure they are produced in a timely and accurate fashion. This is essential to the credibility of your SAM team. You should consider:

  • Developing a process to ensure license compliance reports are generated in a timely and accurate fashion
  • Implementing a process for managing spare licenses to prevent over-purchasing
  • Driving business decisions and action off the back of reports produced. 

9. Operational processes 

Processes that offer control around software requisition, procurement and deployment offer the most immediate gains for your SAM program, but many other scenarios exist. You should consider:

  • Developing a process for formal software requests will enable your company to funnel these requests and so enforce quality checks to filter out unserviceable demands
  • Creating and maintaining a supported software catalog will help funnel software requests and provide information in the deployment of software titles
  • Implementing a process for joiners, movers and leavers to help IT recover assets when staff members leave your company or move departments

10. Best practices

As your SAM framework matures, you will want to look for potential loopholes in your IT operations that need plugging for advancement. 

  • Ensure your process for inventory data, entitlement data, and recognition data are aligned as closely as possible to enforce license compliance as well as license pool management
  • Implement a process to verify that hardware records are purged from inventory systems, so that disposed of devices are not mistaken as “missing” or unplugged from the network
  • Ensuring deployment teams check licenses/license evidence to justify a deployment will act as a better-than-ITIL check against license compliance risk

If you want to create a SAM program that's all-inclusive, these are just some of the steps you should take to gain maximum ROI. Watch our recent webinar to learn how your ITAM program can be a business enabler and discover practical steps you can take to advance your ITAM/SAM maturity. 

This post is the fourth in a series of articles on SAM. Read our previous posts for insights on SAM implementation, how-tos and more.



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