How to Win Friends and Influence People with SAM
Believe it or not, Software Asset Management is not always the preferred choice of dinner table conversation, even with those who work in the wider world of IT. Already you may be shouting, ‘Speak for yourself, my family are all literate in ISO 19770-3 and my friends adhere to a strict joiners, movers, leavers process in our WhatsApp group.’ If so, well done, please don’t be offended if I turn down your next invite to a wine and cheese night.
SAM’s soft skills
For the rest of us it is clear that truly effective Software Asset Management (SAM) requires more than a thorough understanding of licensing rules, ITIL processes and a state-of-the-art SAM tool. For a SAM program to deliver cost savings, reduce compliance risk and drive IT efficiency, the soft skills of Software Asset Management must also be taken care of. This means engaging with other stakeholders outside of the SAM team and helping the wider business to understand the importance and effectiveness of Software Asset Management.
Most Software Asset Managers will know from experience how difficult it can be to effect change within their organization. Frustratingly, even when you identify an area for cost savings or risk mitigation, it is often dependent on other stakeholders such as product or platform owners within your business to carry out the changes that will see these benefits realized. When these requests are made it is easy to see how they can be delayed or forgotten as the colleague involved will inevitably have a more pressing list of requirements that are more concerning to them.
A sneak preview of License Dashboard’s upcoming 2020 ITAM Community Survey tells us that ‘Promoting SAM Internally’ ranks high up on the list of challenges that SAM teams currently face, narrowly behind ‘Collecting Data’ and ‘Understanding Licensing Rules’.
How can this be resolved? Other than building relationships with key stakeholders throughout the wider IT team, what practices can be put in place? That question isn’t rhetorical – we would be interested to hear how you have achieved success in this area within your own business, please feel free to leave any comments below or on LinkedIn where you may have found this article.
So, what can we advise?
License Dashboard has worked with numerous organizations as a SAM partner since the beginnings of Software Asset Management in the early 2000’s. Our SAM consultants and project managers have also wrestled with the issue of ensuring that the potential beneficial changes that a SAM program identifies are put into action. We have discussed in previous blog articles that it is at this point where a SAM vendor/customer relationship can begin to fracture as the implementation of a SAM program’s findings will inevitably be down to the relevant people working within a customer organization.
The more recent introduction of Agile development methodology into our SAM services has revealed some interesting insights into how better stakeholder buy-in can be achieved. As a brief bit of background, SAM Agile is a Software Asset Management service from License Dashboard that dispenses with creating Effective License Position documents for every major vendor on a regular basis and instead focuses on more bite sized chunks of a customer’s IT optimization requirements. This is where the Agile methodology comes in – we work with the customer to identify a backlog of activities that if worked on will provide measurable value to their organization. The items on this backlog are prioritized and a number are selected each month to be processed as ‘stories’ in a ‘sprint’ of work.
Each piece of work is a micro-service designed to be completed within one-month. An example may be an enhanced optimization report into a deployed product or a contract review from a major vendor. The work to be carried out can be planned on a schedule that suits the needs of the customer organization. For instance, a full license position of a vendor can be produced shortly before the renewal is due, as this is when it is most needed. Agile methodology also allows an organization to react with agility (the name is a giveaway) to unexpected or unplanned scenarios such as receiving an audit request from a vendor. The upcoming sprint is simply reprioritized to include work that will assist with that audit process.
Revealing the actual benefits of Software Asset Management
A by-product of the SAM Agile program is that it turns the relationship between the SAM team and digital stakeholders such as platform or product managers on its head. Each service is broken down into identifiable, project-based pieces of work with a service specification including deliverables and KPIs. This gives the wider IT team at an organization genuine visibility of the nature and value of the work being carried out and a menu of options available that they can order from themselves. Stakeholders can now request SAM activity to be carried out based on their own priorities at a time that suits them, the work they request is prioritized and put into the next available sprint.
This represents a complete turnaround from the SAM team making requests for work to be carried out, and demonstrates relevant value to each stakeholder. The SAM team wins friends around the business and grows its influence by instilling SAM into the thought process of each person responsible for an area of the IT network.
Your business may already have agile processes running throughout the IT department. If you are interested in transforming you SAM program to follow the principles of agile methodology get in touch for an informal discussion on how we can help.