Stop Boiling the Ocean: Using SAM Data to Make Targeted Improvements to Your IT
All Software Asset Management (SAM) practitioners, ourselves at License Dashboard included, will stress the importance of discovering and understanding every area of your IT estate. We have experienced countless examples over the years where an apparently small lack of coverage masks a massive area of licensing risk or a huge overspend that your organization’s SAM team is unaware of.
License Dashboard has highlighted frequently how this audit-centric approach to SAM is vital, not only for minimizing risk of licensing compliance, but also as the foundational element of actually achieving cost savings by optimizing your software deployment footprint. Understanding how efficiently your software is licensed, understanding application usage and enabling the smooth completion of business-critical activities such as cloud transition or O/S migration all begins with correctly understanding your licensing position.
An audit-centric approach is sometimes ‘glossed over’ in present day SAM conversations as if an organization can jump straight to the good stuff: software optimization, SaaS management, cloud optimization, application rationalization etc. Let’s be clear, all of the above is possible and extremely worthwhile, but only with the foundational license management elements in place first. Any other approach is putting the cart before the horse, house built on the sand, insert favourite analogy here etc.
When effective SAM feels like kicking against the current
That being said, having the ability to discover and understand your full estate is one thing, trying to work on it all at the same time is another. License Dashboard continues to see examples of SAM teams, often in very large enterprise organizations, who are working flat out to produce the licensing positions of all their key vendors (usually dozens of them) on a repeated cycle which completely consumes itself. All of their time and effort is spent producing the reports and this leaves no time to understand or act upon the data.
This is a shame as the potential costs savings, efficiencies and risk reductions that should be the reward of an effective SAM program can go unrealized. It prevents the SAM team becoming the stars of the show that they should be, and goes absolutely nowhere in terms of achieving buy-in from other digital stakeholders in the business, which is vital in running an effective SAM program.
So, what’s the answer? How do organizations begin to realize the best of both worlds by keeping control of their entire estate whilst at the same time identifying and acting upon areas of their IT that can be improved.
What to do with a boat-load of SAM data
An effective SAM program will result in a vast amount of data residing in either your SAM tool, with your service provider, or on spreadsheets. This data is then used to produce an Effective License Position (ELP) for the managed vendors. In itself an ELP is not a particularly friendly document to look at and requires analysis to understand and identify the actions that could be taken to make improvements on a per vendor basis. This is where the problems begin.
An alternative methodology is to first identify several activities that can be carried out in theory, each specifically designed to provide cost savings, reduce licensing compliance risk, reduce security threats or provide the required insight ahead of a significant change to business IT strategy. It is important that these activities are bite-sized and that they can be completed with the available data in an acceptable time period – for example ranging from one week to one month. This can still include a full ELP of a specific vendor when required, or even an ELP for a specific product. But these activities can be much more granular than that and focus on very specific areas of your IT estate or particular ‘point-in-time’ requirement that your organization has. They can be both proactive and reactive, which is especially important as it allows the SAM team to quickly shift focus if the unexpected comes along or if a vendor audit letter arrives in the post tomorrow morning.
This methodology ensures that every piece of work is being done for a reason and each activity will have an outcome with an associated business benefit. There is no need to be continuously boiling the ocean with your SAM data, rather make tactical improvements based on the rich data that your SAM program is naturally producing. This brings results fast and allows the SAM team to chip away by prioritizing activities in this agile fashion. Another outcome is the opportunity to improve relationships with other IT departments and digital stakeholders who do not hold SAM in the same regard as you do.
Keeping SAM ship-shape
Other internal stakeholders, platform managers, product owners etc, within the organization can now request services from you based on the activities you have defined, to assist in their own job roles, as and when they need them. This is a reverse of the traditional approach to SAM in many organizations. Rather than the SAM team approaching a department with recommended changes or demands for data, these colleagues can now order an in-depth review of a product should they require the information for their own projects or activities.
License Dashboard has worked with our customers to develop the SAM Agile and SAM Insights services that enable organizations to adopt this targeted approach to their SAM programs, identifying millions of dollars in cost savings and risk mitigation along the way.