Choosing a SAM Tool When There’s Plenty of Fish In The Sea

I read somewhere recently that dating website Match.com Group had nearly doubled its revenues over the last five years to a staggering $1.28 billion US. A huge niche industry looking to partner up individuals with complimentary attributes and desired requirements – so I am reliably informed… a most tenuous of connections I know, but where is the equivalent help for someone looking to find the SAM tool of their dreams?

Choosing a SAM Tool that Fits the Bill

A quick search online brings back a mixture of good, bad and varied articles advising how to choose a SAM tool. Tool vendor authored write ups naturally with a bias or slant toward their product differentiators and independent scribes tackling this broad and complex subject from a multitude of angles. There is also some great expert and detailed analysis from the likes of the ITAM Review and Gartner, reporting on tool capabilities, scoring and even ranking the market leaders against each other – but SAM isn’t something you can buy off the shelf. Tools are just component cogs of an overriding solution that is bespoke to each and every organisation and it stands to reason that if you buy an ill-fitting cog your solution will inevitably grind to a halt.

SAM is there to ensure you pay only for software you need and use, to help and guide you through digital transformation programmes, to ensure IT security, provide insights into software usage, share valuable raw data with other systems and mitigate the risks of non-compliance. All of this relies on crucial and complete information relating to what is deployed and what you are allowed to deploy, which is where most tools come in to play.

Too Good to Be True?

It’s not a great stretch to imagine even the most genuine of personal bios being massaged a little to portray the picture of an ideal partner – height, age, job, education, fitness – you’d even choose the most flattering of pictures you possess -and of course who on earth would publicly detail their bad habits or less desirable traits?

It is crucial to consider from the very start of any selection exercise the “people” requirement element of the solution, particularly when you are left to live with your tool of choice. There are many managed service providers and SAM consultancy practices out there for a reason, SAM isn’t always as simple as a click of a coded button. Tool providers themselves have training and accreditation courses, they offer varying levels of support contracts of significant outlay and some are renowned for racking up more in professional service fees than the initial cost of their tool.

As the tools market has matured and vendors compete to meet functionality demand of end users and technological advances – often to tick boxes in Requests for Information- it’s easy to believe the hype that end to end, “silver bullet” solutions exist. Of course, they can’t without the human element but also a less desirable consequence is the requirement for you to re align your SAM solution vision to fit in with the constraints of the technology – effectively the tail wagging the dog.

Naturally all of the tool “cogs” can be acquired from one vendor and aesthetically there is an appearance of a seamless solution; but if any one of these components lack substance or – as can often be the case – turn out too cumbersome and complex to be practicable, again the solution stutters and can falter. Breadth of capability and depth of capability are not the same thing. Many organisations find SAM success by choosing best of breed components that are relevant to their unique vision and when these are from different providers have ensured the products play well together, respecting the expertise and value each brings to the equation.

Finding the Perfect Match

So, in summary our advice would be to clearly understand your own unique SAM vision, what it means to your organisation, your drivers and what a successful implementation should bring. Once you have that you are in a position to understand your existing capabilities in terms of people and technology in delivering against that vision; as a consequence, your requirements of any additional tool and expertise to meet that.

For more details and greater depth around the challenges, gotchas and pitfalls faced in all areas of SAM tooling please look out for our series of follow up articles tackling;

  • Discovery and Discovery Transformation
  • Licence Management
  • Optimization and re-harvesting
  • Interpreting and Sharing SAM generated data
  • Dealing with a vendor audit request
David Chamberlain

David Chamberlain

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