Imagine you have been given the challenge of implementing a Software Asset Management program. You have been assigned the responsibility of building a SAM strategy, addressing potential SAM processes that can deliver a tangible benefit to the organization and looking at SAM technologies.
You have a particularly stubborn senior management team that you have to present to. You need their support in order to implement a successful Software Asset Management program. Gaining senior management support can be a real struggle, but the hard work does bear fruit.
WALK BEFORE YOU CAN RUN
One of the big issues I see with organizations looking to establish a SAM function is that they try to sell the ‘perfect picture’. Before having any real understanding of what impact SAM can have on an organization, the people pitching the idea to senior management often feel the need to make promises of saving millions in software costs.
I would suggest breaking up the implementation phase of Software Asset Management into smaller portions to enable realistic targets and timeframes. Keep the overall vision, but break up the business plan into phases with manageable workloads and realistic expectations.
THE BUSINESS CASE
The business case for implementing SAM needs to have its foundations built on accurate data from your environment. Constructing a case around data you have gathered from a third party source or through guesswork will not suffice. Nor will the argument along the lines of:
“We need to purchase a SAM solution, install it and have it up and running in just a couple of days and then we can save millions!”
At Snow, we strongly advise against customers adopting a two-year SAM Plan that promises 100% ROI (Return on Investment) from day one. The implementation of SAM is a journey. As part of the business case, it needs to be highlighted that there are a number of different stages when implementing SAM – from the point of actually defining a SAM program, right through to the implementation of technology and delivering ROI.
Snow Software can help you through all stages of your SAM journey. We also often hear that organizations look to SAM technologies to make all of their problems disappear. Whilst Snow License Manager is the world’s leading SAM solution, it is not a silver bullet – it will not do all of the work by itself. The old SAM proverb of ‘people, processes and technology’ needs to be part of the business case.
There needs to be a focus on what skills set is required, what processes need to be implemented in both the short and longer term, and what technology fits in best with the environment and overall goals.
As I have said before, be realistic when building the business case. Senior management will expect the results that you sell them in the timescales you put forward.
If you follow this method then you will hit the targets promised and you will have a far easier time in demonstrating the importance of SAM.
CREATE A ‘STEP-BY-STEP’ SAM PLAN
In order to win the support of senior management, it is important to provide a high-level overview of realistic targets and the actions required. Senior management may not be interested in understanding the in-depth technicalities at this stage – that requirement may come further down the line.
STEP 1 – THE IMPORTANCE OF SENIOR MANAGEMENT SUPPORT
When gaining senior management support for SAM, I suggest you advise that you (the SAM function) explain the reasons for your importance and why you need their investment financially and professionally. There needs to be a connection between the SAM team and senior management to ensure all parties are on the same page and working towards the same goal.
Explain the key part they have to play in all of the good that SAM will bring to the business, and how they have the ability to make a real difference to the experience of users, the management of expensive assets, risk avoidance and cost savings.
Experience dictates that senior management likes to hear that, and that it goes a long way in gaining their support and their ideas for the SAM function. If they put their name to it, then they are going to want it to be the best that it can be, as it will affect their standing and reputation within the organization.
STEP 2 – NEED FOR TECHNOLOGY
No matter how good the SAM team is, how sophisticated the processes are or how senior the senior management support it, it is virtually impossible to manage a software estate without a SAM solution.
In the past, it may have been an option to use Microsoft Excel as a method for managing software assets and licenses, but with the ever-expanding portfolio of software that vendors provide and the complicated license metrics that they come up with it is now impossible to use Excel or any other manual method for that matter. A reliable and accurate inventory solution is required.
Snow Inventory provides the ability to audit the estate – understand deployment and then feed the rationalized data (Snow’s Software Recognition Service) into Snow License Manager for analysis and reporting. Without any form of inventory solution within an organization, there is no real way to understand the state of the environment.
The SAM technology (Snow License Manager) will be the main focal point of any SAM function and the tool for day-to-day management of software assets. Technology costs money, so senior management may be wary to invest in a technology they know little about. I would suggest initially pushing the real need for an inventory and SAM solution, before looking at the other options that the technology vendor may provide.
Once you can show that the inventory and SAM solution has added value and become an important part of the SAM function, then you can build justification for additional modules, based on your organizations requirements.
STEP 3 – IDENTIFY ‘QUICK WINS’
SAM and licensing professionals know that the biggest cost savings and cost avoidances can be found in the datacenter, but when you are trying to ‘sell’ SAM to the senior management team, a better approach may be to focus on immediate quick wins. This will lead you to starting in the desktop environment.
The desktop environment is geared towards quick wins thanks to less complex license metrics and easier inventory. Whilst software costs are cheaper, if the SAM function feels the need to show immediate wins then I would suggest addressing this environment first.
Identify and manage key software vendors that pose the biggest risks. The definition of ‘risk’ can vary, but the main areas of risk are financial, compliance and vendor audit activity. Having transparency on license risks and being able plan a risk management strategy is a quick win in itself. Data is king! Not having any form of understanding on your biggest software risks means you will never know exactly where you stand from a compliance and financial risk perspective.
By having valuable and accurate data, the organization can prioritize which vendors to focus efforts and resources on managing and reducing risks.
For example, there is no point in focusing your efforts on a piece of compression software that costs less that $20 when your datacenter environment has instances of software that costs thousands and poses a big risk.
The software re-harvesting process assists with quick wins. This is the process whereby the SAM function identifies software that is installed on users’ machines – but is either not in use or has limited usage. It is then possible for the team to remove the unused license and either re-harvest the license to a user who really needs it, or add it to a license pool.
Fewer tools and resources are required in order to pick away at the low hanging fruit – it is simply a case of removing software from a machine, and re-deploying it elsewhere (if required). Snow Automation Platform helps organizations follow the software re-harvest process by automating the removal of unused software.
Generation of license pools
Any software that has been removed through the re-harvesting of software licenses, but is not needed for another user, is added to a license pool. Having a license pool means that future license requests can be auctioned quickly, and reduces spend on software.
Estimate how much money or risk could be avoided by performing actions such as removing software with no usage, or installs with no associated license. Highlight the results to the senior management to show the value of SAM. Explain that whilst this may seem like a lot of money, there are bigger compliance and financial risks in the datacenter environment.
If you have a License Management solution such as Snow License Manager, the solution can even do the math for you, taking away the need to manually calculate how much money you are at risk of having to spend – and how much cost avoidance you can achieve.
STEP 4 – HOW BASIC SAM PROCESSES CAN MAKE AN INSTANT IMPACT
Software Asset Management processes range from the very basic and easy to formulate to the mature and sophisticated.
The following five key basic SAM processes can make a positive impact on any organization:
Software Request Process
A process based on how users request software. This should include a strong business justification, a cost center for re-charging purposes (if it applies) and the user’s details. It should also include the relevant manager for approval for the purchase or installation of the requested software. Elements of this process can be automated with the help of Snow Automation Platform.
This will help ensure that only approved software applications are deployed and to the right user. The software request process is a key contributor in the reduction of software spend within an organization, as it ensures that only approved users are given a license and that any spare licenses are provided before new licenses are purchased. This helps with compliance, financial management and also license optimization – all key attributes towards the success of a SAM function.
Software Removal Process
This may be for compliance purposes (where no licenses are available so those instances are removed) or for the simple fact that the software is no longer in use but has yet to be re-harvested.
Installed but unused software carries a license compliance risk, and also indirect costs associated with support and maintenance. All software needs to be treated as if it is on a piece of string – if it is not being used then it needs to be removed. Having licenses assigned to a user or device that is not being used is a massive waste of investment, and will result in overspend.
Software Re-harvest Process
This differs from the software removal process in that it relates to the removal and then re-assignment of a software license.
The speed in which this process becomes effective depends on the time the organization defines as software being inactive. This is usually between 30 and 60 days. Re-harvesting software licenses shows a proactive SAM approach in ensuring that all software assets are optimized to their full potential.
Also, re-harvesting licenses means that there will be a reduction in software spend as the SAM team will look at current stock and usage, and will also reduce the waiting time users have to endure when requesting a new piece of software.
Software Rationalization Process
Quick wins in terms of compliance, cost and risk avoidance can be realized through the software rationalization process.
Stripping down the amount of software applications that are installed within the environment will result in reduced software procurement costs. This enables the business to drive better deals with software vendors.
There is another way in which the rationalization process can help reduce costs and support demands. By rationalizing a single vendor’s application to fulfill a certain requirement, such as standard anti-virus, the organization can save money further by negotiating a better discount with the vendor.
This will also help reduce support and maintenance costs. The software rationalization process also reduces ITSM costs and timescales and ensures that users and systems are productive thanks to reduced compatibility issues.
Starters, Movers & Leavers Process
What happens to software when someone joins the organization? Ensuring that a user has a valid license and the software is on their new machine when they join helps productivity and reduces the amount of waiting time a new starter has for their equipment.
The same could be said for the ‘movers’ element. It ensures that only the relevant software is installed on a user’s device, should they move roles or departments. And, it is then vitally important that software pings back to the SAM function once a user leaves. The same could be said of the hardware asset and going back into stock within the IT or service department. Implementing this process will help track licenses during changes within organizations.
New starters need to have the correct licenses when they first join a company. If they don’t, then they could end up wasting time waiting for key software that is vital for them in fulfilling their role. When people move roles or business units, their software needs to move with them. Mature SAM structures facilitate internal cross charging, which is where the starters, movers and leavers process provides value. It ensures that licenses are followed and the relevant charges are applied.
Finally, when a user leaves the organization, the license must be reclaimed from their machine. This can then be added into a license pool or re-harvested to a user with a genuine business requirement. Software and hardware can get lost when people move about or leave an organization, this process ensures all assets are tracked to ensure transparency and compliance is maintained.
Having the support of senior management is absolutely vital in the success of a SAM function. Their guidance and support will help SAM be as effective as possible, and add value as quickly as possible.
You need to ‘sell’ Software Asset Management as a core function for the business. SAM does not just fly solo; it interacts with a number of different business units providing valuable, accurate data.
Thanks to the data SAM provides, it becomes a key enabler and data provider for other areas of the business – like IT Operations and overall business management. SAM provides ‘clean’ data. Technologies such as Snow License Manager have the ability to integrate with the organizations CMDB (configuration management database) to ensure there are no instances of ‘dirty’, unreliable data.
The CMDB’s primary use is as the central data source for IT Operations. Bad data will equal bad decisions. Sell the fact that SAM provides accurate data that has the ability to help address any data issues with existing sources. Modern-day SAM does not just focus on compliance – it encompasses the whole business and can interact with key stakeholders more than ever.
SAM will not work with a single person banging the drum; it needs the full support of senior management and key stakeholders. Once you have senior management on board, with the SAM function providing valuable and intelligent data, the business will never remember what life was like without the brilliance of software asset management.
If you have a limited time with your senior management, and would like ‘quick pitch’ material, then read our blog highlighting “The Business Case for SAM in Two Minutes”.