Generally, when we refer to SAM within an organisation, it tends to imply the singular and a function that’s the responsibility of a solitary SAM professional. This perception seems to exist regardless of the size of organisation.
Whilst that may have been the case in the early days, when SAM was a static tool for periodic software inventory management, it’s very now out dated and actually somewhat stereotypical. It’s a bit like the 70s film image of a lone IT guy eating junk food all day whilst watching screens in an old control room.
Multi-stakeholder approach is needed
Far from being a one man or, if we are looking to dispel those negative stereotypes, one woman, job, SAM is now a business requirement in its own right. And the numbers of people involved in SAM related activity on an ongoing basis reflects this.
As the emphasis has moved beyond licensing compliance to optimisation and cost prevention, SAM has broad reaching relevance. This spans IT, governance, procurement and project management functions. Combine this with the fact that most mid and large-sized organisations have dispersed teams working across several sites, this creates the need for both a multi-stakeholder approach and cross-functional support.
From a product perspective working collaboratively places greater importance on including multi user capability within the SAM tools themselves – not only from a reporting point of view, but also data entry and management.
Although IT might own the user and audit data, purchasing needs access to actual usage levels to negotiate favourable license entitlements and reports to justify their arguments.
Added to this, making data from the SAM solution available to IT help desk staff, for example, can dramatically accelerate problem resolution times and create the potential to achieve first-time fixes.
So what’s preventing this from being commonplace?
The problem here lies not with the organisations using SAM, as they can appreciate the requirement. It lies with the technology, because most SAM solutions are designed to suit the lone SAM stereotype and effectively create silos of data.
What is essential for this to become a reality is multi-user capabilities that allow different levels of secure access to the many stakeholders involved.
It means introducing a web based interface so that users can input relevant information concurrently, generate standard management reports that don’t require specialist skills to generate and receive alerts and reminders when further action is needed.
The table below identifies the key stakeholders that need to be involved in the SAM process and why they need unfettered access to a common SAM solution:
|SAM professional||View software installs, check available licenses and potential shortfall risks, identify opportunities to optimize license availability (e.g. reharvesting unused licenses)|
|Procurement||Check current status of licenses (e.g. are any spare) before initiating purchase orders, adding new licenses to the repository, managing volume licensing agreements|
|IT (including sub-teams for end user computing, servers etc.)||View the configuration, location and status of IT assets deployed across the network (normalized data from multiple inventory solutions)|
|Corporate governance||Verify license position across the organisation, monitor compliance risks and check policies on asset procurement are being adhered to|
|Finance||Monitor the allocation and use of IT resources by individuals and groups for the purposes of budgeting, cross-charging etc.|
It may be a cliché but there are still too many silos in IT. SAM now has the potential to do away with all that and have a beneficial effect on breaking them down. It may even enable a new positive stereotype to take hold.
About Peter Bjorkman
Peter is a software and Web entrepreneur with 20 years in the business and more than 15 years of experience in designing and developing software products. As the CTO at Snow Software, he is responsible for the overall roadmap, architecture and design of the Snow Software product line.