I recently corresponded with Chris regarding his upcoming session and his iterative approach to Tool Implementation.
ITAM Review Q. Please tell me about yourself and your background
I am a Principal Consultant for Linium specializing in IT Asset Management and Software Asset Management (SAM). I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to advise several large corporations over the past 10+ years.
Q. What experience do you have in the SAM space?
I have consulted and led process and tool implementations over the past 10 years at several large financial, insurance, and manufacturing companies.
Q. What will you be presenting at IAITAM this year?
The title of the presentation is Managing a SAM Tool Implementation – Organizing for Maximum Effectiveness. I will be presenting a framework and best practices for companies to implement a solid, cost saving SAM program. The goal is to share our lessons learned from several large client engagements. We are clearly this year seeing an unprecedented interest in SAM, due to the large software vendors increasing their software audits of large customers as a revenue generator, and corporations’ desire to cut any IT costs possible that has been going on for quite some time.
Q. You describe 5 key steps in a SAM project lifecycle – please could you provide a quick summary of each step?
- OBJECTIVES: First, we help a company clearly define what they want to accomplish from their SAM program. A lot of time and money can be spent fruitlessly, when the effort is approached trying to track down every single piece of software without prioritizing what titles are going to yield the biggest cost savings, or minimize the most risk.
- BENCHMARK: Second, we analyse the company’s overall position, especially with their large software vendors. There is a very high probability that company is over-paying a major vendor in some respect. We know the typical places to identify the best opportunities for cost savings and risk mitigation.
- TEAM: Third, we gather the appropriate stakeholders and interested parties. Usually we need input from people across the IT, Finance, and support organizations, internal and external to the company. For instance, for the project we may need participation from an employee in charge of IT procurement, account or support reps from the companies’ vendors, a software discovery tool manager who is a contractor at the company, off-shore support folks managing multiple ITAM and/or discovery tools, and an executive stakeholder who fully expects a return on their investment from the project. These people report up different chains and have different interests. We need to create a collaborative and respectful environment, to accomplish what we need to do to put a reliable and accurate system into place.
- RUP: Fourth, we utilize a streamlined variation of Rational Unified Process (RUP) for the technical development effort. From the project management perspective, we clearly define and enforce scope. We enforce quality and compliance according to industry standard practices and regulations. Some of our clients are regulated in their particular industries, such as banks and pharmaceutical companies. We enforce software and architecture integrity to the fullest extent.
- POST-PROJECT SUPPORT: Fifth, we communicate and stage the post-project support. The long-term roadmap for an organizations’ ITAM and/or SAM program will typically extend several years and with this project phase successful, we are planning the next phase, and incorporating any lessons-learned into our standard processes.
Q. Could you explain a bit more about RUP? What does this mean in the context of a SAM Tool Implementation?
From RUP, we borrow the phased approach – Inception, Construction, Transition. We also use iterative development of the tool(s) being implemented. We generally use commercial off-the-shelf ITAM and SAM tools and develop the integrations and tool customizations. The phases end in milestones that must be passed before the next phase can commence in the project.
We have found the lack of discipline in this area has been the cause of many enterprise application and ERP implementation failures. It’s important to me – to consider the size and complexity of the project, in determining how the project is managed. For instance, a full blown Application Lifecycle Management tool may be fully appropriate for a large project that utilizes a collection of international teams that must work in concert, but that same tool may be overkill for a small project of just a few people. I don’t follow RUP, CMMI, or other frameworks to the letter, but my development process will share certain desirable concepts with those.
Q. What if a company understands the threat of software compliance but does not really appreciate SAM?
SAM is the measuring stick used to measure your compliance. Without some kind of SAM effort, you have no idea your compliance position. For large (F500) companies especially, there are hundreds or thousands of software titles in use. The cost of not having an organized and systematic SAM program is too high.
From the cost perspective, major software vendors will be happy to report to you what you have in use, using their own methods, but it is an open secret that the major vendors are pursuing audits as revenue generators, given the recent few years’ flattening of their new license revenues. With licensing usually comes support, and it has been reported that Oracle’s profit margin on their support deals is over 90%.
Over-licensing software is wasted cost not only in the year of purchase, but a recurring; year after year waste of millions of dollars at large corporations. Under licensing is a legal risk to the organization. Licensing terms are complex, so a true verification of software usage must be done in-house. Cost savings and risk mitigation opportunities may then be identified, and additionally we found companies using the information to increase their negotiating position with vendors. The cost of a SAM program compares very favourably compared to a large companies’ overall software investment.
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 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.