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Can a SAM Team be 100% Virtual?

The Big Question

A SAM professional who has been given a budget to build a SAM team recently contacted us to ask whether or not they can build an effective SAM team virtually, or if they need to physically have the personnel in the office. A recent poll by SHRM showed that 46% of organisations had some form of virtual team within their environment, so can SAM join that 46%?

 Yes, it can!

 Absolutely a SAM team can be virtual! There are a number of advantages of being in a virtual team such as:

  • Flexibility
  • No geographical constraints
  • Have the best professionals in the team
  • Speed and efficiency of working
  • Cost savings

Having a virtual team allows for greater flexibility with the work that can be done, and also when it can be done. Having a virtual team means that the members of the team can work at any time and they have greater flexibility when it comes to reacting to changes or challenges that may arise. The structure of the team can also change a lot easier with a virtual team, with less impact on time and resources when making a change.

Another advantage of having a virtual team is the fact that there are no geographical constraints to hinder the project or the team. This allows organisations to hire the best professionals from around the world, and have a team that can work around the clock. This obviously relates to other advantages, but it also allows organisations to have a foothold in a number of continents and countries without having a physical office there.

Working at home, telecommuting and disparate teams - Can a SAM team be 100% virtual?

Working at home, telecommuting and dispersed teams – Can a SAM team be 100% virtual?

Hand-in-hand with having no geographical constraints is the fact that a virtual team has the ability to hire the best possible professionals from around the world. Being a virtual team means those organisations can hand pick the best SAM professionals from around the world to create an effective, efficient and expert team.

The speed in which the team can work can be improved in some scenarios. If the team members are working the equivalent of 24/7 (based on time zones) then as you can imagine work will be completed a lot quicker. If you have the best SAM professionals possible within the team, then the work will be completed quickly and to the highest standard.

Finally, the cost savings realised by having a virtual team can be huge. The organisation can save on office space, bills, hardware, travel and general expenses. The money saved can be re-invested into the organisation to help achieve the overall strategy and success of the organisation as a whole.

 No, it can’t!

 The argument for having a physical SAM team is more around the social aspect and personal issues. Despite the advantages of having a virtual team, there are also disadvantages that you don’t get with a physical team, such as:

  • Lack of face-to-face interaction
  • Lack of social interaction
  • Lack of team spirit
  • Possible trust issues
  • Cultural clashes
  • Technical support for the SAM team

Lack of face-to-face interaction and social interaction can have a negative impact on a team. Having a physical team all based within the office means that team members could interact with each other on a face-to-face level, and generally socialise and get to know each other. Not having this face-to-face interaction can leave to team members feeling disjointed, or distant from the other members of their team. People un-happy in a physical team can also feel like this, but the problems are easier to rectify or come to a conclusion. However, problems within a physical team can cause unrest and a hostile atmosphere for those going into work everyday.

Boosting the team spirit and togetherness of a virtual team can be a challenge, but this is also the case for a physical team. Another issue is trust. Virtual team members may not have the same levels of trust as a physical team. This could be due to the fact that they physically cannot see each other and interact with other team members on a face-to-face level.

Finally, having virtual team members from all around the world could result in cultural clashes or misunderstandings. This can be damaging to the overall team morale and levels of trust. It can also have an impact on the efficiency of the team members. It is important to always remember that other cultures may see things differently from you, but with that said software licensing, SAM and ITAM are a global standard. The terms of a license may be slightly different in certain territories, but you still need to adhere to the terms and conditions regardless of culture.

 The future of a SAM team

 There is no reason as to why SAM teams in the future cannot be part virtual or even fully virtual. Like we’ve mentioned before, it is entirely dependant on the organisations structure and whether or not they want a virtual team.

 Evren Esen, manager of SHRM’s survey research centre states “When virtual teams work, their productivity can be impressive, but getting them to function can be a challenge. Improved technology may help facilitate the use of virtual teams.” Having a SAM virtual team can work just as well as a physical team; it just depends on how the organisation wants to manage their SAM team. Both aspects have negatives and positives so both team formats need to be seriously considered before any decisions are made.

Personally, we think that the future may be in-between both a virtual and physical team. A SAM team that will be part virtual and part physical, with a rotation system for those physical users, and then virtual team members from other locations looks like it could be the viable option for global organisations. For smaller organisations a part physical part virtual team could be the future, dependant on how many users are in the SAM team.

There are very few occasions in which a SAM professional physically needs to be in the office. Face-to-face meetings are the only things that require a SAM professional to be in the office. All other SAM tasks can be done remotely from home, which suggests SAM teams should be virtual to save the organisation money.

Finally…

The important thing to remember is that having a SAM team is extremely important, whether that’s virtual or physical. There are a number of pros and cons to both scenarios, and neither option is the ‘wrong option’. Whatever works for the individual organisation, and whatever fits in with the current environment is the right option to pick.

What do you think about having a virtual SAM team? Leave a comment below or get in touch with us to voice your opinion!

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About David Foxen

David Foxen is a Software Asset Management expert and enthusiast. He had a vast experience of successfully implementing SAM, SAM tools and also made huge cost savings. A member of the ISO Standards WG21, David is a massive ITAM geek, so uses any opportunity to talk about the subject to who-ever will listen. He believes that the industry needs to share its knowledge and success stories to help the SAM industry mature and become more effective. Always willing to help, his primary goal is to make a difference to organisations and the SAM industry so everyone will know how epic SAM is!

6 Comments

  1. Can a SAM team work 100% virtually? Of course they can.

    For most large organizations the various stakeholders that provide input into SAM are rarely going to be co-located.

    Procurement/Finance and IT rarely sit side by side. Most organizations have large parts of their IT outsourced to various vendors and the specialist expertise (license advice, analysis, etc) can easily be delivered virtually.

    I would actually say that SAM best practice would be to design the function to be delivered virtually right from the start. With the appropriate security and processes in place.

  2. Alex Andrew says:

    Hi David,

    One of the key barriers to a Virtual SAM team is the Vendors contracts. In a recent project we asked the client to confirm whether third parties or Contractors would be able to see the contracts. 60% of vendors said no, the main reason being commercially sensitive pricing information. So if a virtual SAM function includes external staff, this is something to keep in mind.

    Btw: Nice article.

  3. Hi David,

    Ultimately I don’t think this is a SAM specific topic. It applies to X business departments / disciplines.

    I remember working in a ‘Virtual Team’ some years ago and the virtual component was that we were actually working in other teams with other ‘day jobs’ but with respect to one specific service offering the company was selling, we coalesced into a virtual team. I think that in this respect it’s important to have a dedicated team leader who is not distracted by competing and what other stakeholders might deem to be higher priority activities.

    If we’re talking virtual in the sense of geographical dispersion; I’m not sure that it’s possible to maintain a SAM team or indeed many sorts of teams in large organisations without having team members at the various operating geo locations. It’s difficult to manage a remote team environment. Team members have less opportunity to collaborate face to face and enjoy the better levels of productivity and downtime relationship building that colleagues in the same office often enjoy. For one client implementing SAM, they had 4 offices across Europe, Asia the USA where SAM team people resided. I think one of the features that really made it work is that they invest in regular face to face team meetings where at least the leadership are making regular appearances at the various offices. In fact it’s often a relief because for those in different time zones, it’s nice to have a week where everyone is in one location as you get more of your evenings / mornings back.

    Thanks,

    Paul

  4. Anand Srivastava says:

    A Virtual SAM Team.

    Very interesting topic.
    Yes it can be formed
    But this is my idea.
    The major challenge is teamwork and working together with trust and confidence.
    So initially the team should work together for 6 months or 1 year and get to know each other very well and share a good rapport.
    Later they can all go virtual or work from home…that’s what we do in companies..but only when we know each other’s capabilities and have trust ,faith and confidence in each other.
    If done in this way…I feel it will save a lot of time, energy and will also help organisations and individuals grow .

  5. We’ve been providing our clients with a 90+% virtual SAM team since 2008 with great success. We are typically 100% virtual but we team with internal roles that are a blend of virtual and physical. This provides the (in my opinion) much needed finger on the pulse that stays aware of how the business is moving and can facilitate our integration within disparate groups (who fills this role varies based upon the business) and we provide the seasoned SAM team who has licensing, contract, vendor and process knowledge. Our clients have been extremely pleased with both the service and the cost effectiveness of this model.

  6. Rory Canavan says:

    Alex raises a relevant point regarding security. Trust levels have to be established and ratified if remote workers also happen to be partners/3rd parties. Contract departments are notoriously tight-lipped about providing financial data concerning pricing, which if not released can be a huge piece of the SAM jigsaw to work around, particularly when it comes to weaving cost metrics into a report that the SAM solution is expected to provide. Physical location is becoming less and less relevant; business boundaries are the more immediate hurdle to overcome.

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