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ARTICLE: Why SAM Projects Fail – Conflict with Decentralisation Culture (Part 1/8)

Why do Software Asset Management projects fail?

This article has been kindly contributed by Phara McLachlan of Animus Solutions.

The ITIL Guide to SAM highlights several possible problems that may arise when implementing Software Asset Management projects. In this series we look at some of those issues and how organisations can address them using Phara’s hands-on experience.

Part One – Conflict with Decentralisation Culture
Part Two – Lack of Senior Management Support
Part Three – Lack of Clear Responsibilities
Part Four – Customized vs. Off-the-shelf SAM Software
Part Five – Poor Communication
Part Six – Lack of End User Support
Part Seven – Underestimating Software Recognition
Part Eight – Legal Requirements
Conflict with Decentralization Culture

SAM best practice dictates that significant procurement benefits can be achieved with centralisation, for example to take advantage of volume license agreements. In the first part of our series Phara covers the issues that may arise when centralised policies are not in put in place.

There are several factors that lead to the decentralization of a corporate culture, the two most prominent being lack of communication and lack of standardized processes. This is especially true during times of great change, such as M&As, strategic re-alignments and change management initiatives. Individual business units within a company all have different processes and rarely communicate with each other. Executives talk the talk about strict governance policy and risk reduction, but seldom walk the walk to support it.

In my experience, the lack of standard processes is more common in large companies, especially multi-nationals. One reason for the missing standards is a lack of resources in terms of time and people; another is simply a lack of training in IT asset management. ITIL provides a framework, but you still need competent, experienced people to manage and enforce the policies.

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One of the greatest issues in terms of software asset management, and any other IT function, is duplication of efforts – from procurement to program creation to setting standards. The conflict between a business unit’s standards and processes and the overarching enterprise’s standards and processes can lead to gross duplication.

Recently, I was working with a large financial institution and there was nearly 70% duplication of processes, standards and efforts across all the business units. In one case, two major business units had purchased the same asset center product and were both implementing it simultaneously with little success. The decentralization of organizations is a consistent and recurring challenge that costs companies both financial and human resources.

One of the core principles of ITIL is strategic planning, and it should be the key takeaway from any consultant worth their salt. Recently, a large county school system in the southern U.S. that spent nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in IT products, but didn’t implement them due to lack of expert resources and lack of planning. There are several steps that the school system should take when they embark on the implementation – whether an internal or external source is used:

• Expertise for the implementation including having the right certifications.
• The ability to give an executive briefing on the processes and procurement needed within the next 12 to 18 months so that the county school system CIO can account and plan for the cost of technology.
• The willingness to leave a detailed design and technical plan.

Animus Solutions is a management and IT consulting firm based in Tampa, Florida. The company provides best practices consulting and implementation services to accomplish IT asset management, software license compliance, ITIL-based IT security and services management goals. Animus can be found here.

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What are your experiences with Decentralised business cultures implementing SAM and haphazard software procurement? Have you any stories or tips you wish to share with the ITAM community?

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About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource and community for worldwide ITAM professionals.

Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.

On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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