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So you're a new SAM Manager? - PT I

In a series of three blogs, Patrik Burvall takes a look at the first steps you might like to consider once you take on the role as a SAM manager. In this post, Patrik looks at the first month and how to assess the current situation.

The second part will concentrate on months two and three and look at how to put a plan together, identify and get on board key stakeholders and go after easy SAM wins.

Blog three will look at the strategy for rest of the year and how to execute the plan, making significant savings with best practice Software Asset Management.

First 30 days So you’ve started a new job as a SAM manager in a company that already has a solution like Snow License Manager.

The question is where do you start? Typically when you have a new job, you will be keen to quickly prove your worth, therefore you need ensure to perform the right actions at the right time.

The first month is mainly about understanding the level of maturity of SAM in the organization. The fact that your company has a SAM solution is good news. First, because the company has acknowledged the importance of SAM and the benefits that can be reaped by having a leading-edge SAM solution.

But, rather than talking about all the great things one might have with a SAM tool, let’s be pragmatic and talk about how solutions like Snow License Manager can be immediately useful.

For the rest of the blog, we’ll focus specifically on Snow License Manager as our example solution. First of all, when looking to understand what the state of affairs is, you might just have a quick look at the ‘Computer types’ widget in the SnowBoard (the management dashboard). This provides instant high-level information on the distribution of servers, laptops and desktops. As an example, if the figures look low on servers you should take an action to investigate further.

 

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Another useful widget is the ‘Compliance’ overview chart. This shows on a very high-level what the overall compliance situation looks like. A situation as shown in the screenshot below is not necessarily a compliance issue, but it certainly warrants further investigations. More on understanding the figures presented in the next section.

 

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Having achieved an overview of the compliance situation, you might want to drill down further in to the details. 

The Application Manufacturer section of Snow License Managers provides a wealth of information. Below you can see the overview page of the application manufacturer section. It gives a high-level snapshot of what installations have been detected and what licenses the organization has invested in. As this example shows, the investment in Microsoft products appears to be out of balance compared to the rest of the estate. 

This should raise an immediate warning flag that the recorded licenses might not be accurate.  It’s time to see what other entitlements have not been entered into the Snow License Manager system!

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By drilling down even further into each publisher, as in the example below which shows Microsoft, you can see which products have the most installs, which carry the highest cost to the organization, and the main compliance exposure. In the list view here you can see examples of the compliance status for each application.

You may wonder why there is such an exposure of Office Standard? Is this because we don’t have those licenses or that we have them but haven’t entered them yet into Snow License Manager? Regardless, this is a very useful way to identify the current state of affairs and the areas where you need to investigate further.

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So far, we’ve only highlighted a few of the key areas you may want to look at during your first month in the job. Outside of working directly with the Snow License Manager interface, it’s worth also focusing on:

  • Who owns SAM in the organization? Who has done it (or not) to date?
  • Have there already been any SAM success stories?
  • Is the purchasing mainly de-centralized or centralized?
  • What is the quality of the data in the SAM System? How is data entered? By whom? What processes? Where is the inventory information coming from?
  • Do you know the level of coverage and status of deployments? For example, if Snow License Manager has inventory of 80% of the IT estate, the company still has a 20% exposure and unknown compliance risks.
  • Have any risk assessments been done?

Getting this information may not be easy, as you may find in less mature organizations that ‘Person A that knew about this has since left the company and you are the replacement’.

If the answers always seem to come back to you that you are now the shouldering all aspects of SAM, a good approach is to ‘follow the money’ and ensure the company is not exposed to license liabilities and risk of unexpected true up costs for an audit with the vendor(s) in which it has invested the most.