‘SAM Intelligence’; should these two words even be used in the same sentence? It is surprising just how many implementations of SAM Programmes seek to go from a state of utter non-compliance to one of dynamic omniscience – knowing where all software is installed at all times, with updates and changes being managed in real time….
Organisations that are wishing to move from the former to the latter state should observe the old maxim “learn to walk before you can run” – many obstacles can present themselves along the way and merely configuring and installing a licence management suite will not confer instant wisdom.
Whilst adherence to contracts and licenses is a laudable aim, it should not be the sole yardstick by which progress is measured; an effective SAM solution is not a 10Km race – one does not cross the line and think “feet up, job done”. IT staff need to realise that they are managing a dynamic entity – hardware comes and goes; as does software and so do staff – the symbiotic nature of these three elements means that IT teams need to incorporate more than a degree of flexibility into their thinking if they are to gain traction in the medium to long term.
First and foremost, a plan is needed; random activity in the area of SAM could be counter-productive and wasted energy. So what factors should this plan incorporate? The scope of this article prevents me from offering chapter and verse definitions of what should be included; however here are some of the more relevant headings that are all too often missed:
- IT Strategy linking to overall Business Strategy: Is the current IT strategy in alignment with the current business strategy? (Any SAM programme is going to require non-IT buy-in at some point; if you can demonstrate how your SAM programme is going to benefit the business, then winning over the non-techies will be that little bit easier)
- Linking to IT Strategy: How is the SAM Plan going to help IT deliver against its loftiest objectives?
- Scope: How far and wide is this SAM Programme going to be? What is its projected level of growth and over what period of time?
- Resource: Both fiscal and non-fiscal – What people/companies/cash/time do we have at our disposal? NB: Time is a resource; and it is the only resource that we can not claim back – so use it wisely.
- Milestones/Waypoints: Regardless of how big or small the SAM Programme may be, you will have steps along the way – much has been written of the SMART acronym in operations management; make use of them.
- Communication: Ensure your plan can convey successes as well as previously undiscovered pitfalls; and not just to the SAM Team as they work through the objectives, but also to the wider business.
- SLAs: If your company is going to rely on any 3rd party companies at any point along the SAM lifecycle, then ensure adequate Service Level Agreements are in place to support your overall objectives.
- Reaching BAU: To ensure that the SAM Plan moves on from Project status, have goals and targets in place that will help you recognise when SAM becomes Business as Usual.
- Education: Company knowledge comes and goes with staff; ensure your SAM Plan addresses such flux in the areas of: a) Licensing Knowledge b) Legislation, Regulation and Best Practice Standards and c) Technical ability to maintain and operate any systems used in the plan.
- PDCA: Plan, Do, Check, Act – Don’t rest on your laurels; you may well reach a state of license compliance with a major vendor, but you will have more than one vendor’s software on your estate. Consider how you are actually going to improve your audit and reconciliation processes.
- Manage Business Expectations: Once you have a SAM Management System worthy of your business, other elements of the business may well be coming to you for consumption/metering/discovery reports – set realistic expectations for the turn around of such information.
About Martin Thompson
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 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.