Getting SAM to Operate at its Strongest – Achieving Maximum Value with ROC

By Sean Robinson

At License Dashboard we’re passionate about Software Asset Management. Why? Because, if executed well, SAM empowers both small businesses and large enterprises. It not only enables them to maximize the value of their IT budgets, but also establish the software platform required to operate at its strongest – day in, day out.

How can your organization achieve that? By combining SAM technologies with a range of professional services and great people. By doing this, you will make it easy to both maximize the value of your software and minimize the risks associated with over-spend and non-compliance – and although these are common SAM objectives, each organization is different and that’s why there’s no “one size fits all” solution. Instead, the key is to find the precise mix of people, technologies and professional services to meet your organization’s unique needs.

Why is SAM So Complicated?

In our experience, the complexity of SAM takes many forms, but at a strategic level it arguably boils down to the simple fact that organizations don’t know their ultimate destination, but perhaps the more challenging part, how to get there. Obvious I guess, but in the same way that “simple” can be hard to achieve, “obvious” can be hard to answer.

So What’s the Answer?

Considering that each organization is unique and identifying the best SAM strategy for them is a challenge, it’s with simplicity and flexibility in mind that we’ve created our ROC framework. It has three clear stages; Recognize, Optimize and Control which help you understand where you are in your SAM journey, what you need to focus on to progress and which blend of technologies and services will support your growth.

The main driver in SAM has always been reducing compliance and cost risks, and as we think that they will remain the key objective, you’ll find it at the heart of our framework.

We then break the SAM strategy into its three clear stages – Recognize, Optimize and Control.

Stage One – Recognize

The first stage of ROC is about understanding. It’s about identifying what your software estate is made up from. How many PCs and servers does your company own? What software is installed on your devices? What is the software usage? What is your environment complexity? Where is your license evidence? And, what is your true license entitlement?

It’s not un-common for us to hear organizations say that understanding what software they have installed across their network and how much it’s being used is their holy grail. Inventory tools are a key component, make no mistake about that, they help you identify your liability – but that’s really only the first step of stage one – it’s also important to look at what you’re allowed to have installed, i.e. your license entitlement.

Some other organizations, especially if they’ve received an audit request, do take things a little further and create their Effective License Position (ELP), which means to compare what they have installed against their license entitlement. The ELP identifies areas of overspend and compliance risk. It’s this milestone that the first stage of ROC helps an organization achieve, but again, SAM doesn’t stop there.

Stage Two – Optimize

Once you’ve established your current license position, you can start to make the most of it. By focusing on the gaps you’ve identified in stage one; you can start to optimize your usage and entitlement to really start saving money. This stage includes processes like re-harvesting licenses, managing the “end-of life” process more efficiently, maximizing the value of each license model and using the information at hand to negotiate more accurate license agreements.

At this point, you now have an optimized software estate, but this is still only “point in time.” You may have chosen to implement a discovery and license management tool, or opted for a set of services to reach this point – however your organization doesn’t stand still. Employees come and go and license agreements evolve, so it makes business sense to implement a scalable strategy and protect your SAM investments to this point and beyond – so on to stage three.

Stage Three – Control

There are two main paths to consider at this stage – some organizations use their discovery tool to identify what software has been installed over the past 30 days and then retrospectively buy licenses to cover it on a re-occurring basis. This is certainly a level of control, but it’s reactive and leaves an organization on the back foot.

Instead, we recommend you to take a more proactive approach where all stakeholders are aligned with process and technology to ensure you stay in control and maintain your optimal position.

Such an approach means that when an employee requires a piece of software, they raise a new request from an AppStore which then follows an approval process, including line managers, IT and Procurement, before being deployed. The inventory tool then takes on a different role and acts as more of a safety net to ensure nothing slips through.

This proactive approach simply makes sure that nothing gets installed without a valid license/agreement and that your organization never buys any unnecessary software again, significantly reducing an organization’s compliance and overspend risks.

Think SAM, think ROC

Software Asset Management ultimately ensures you get the most out of your software assets; the ROC framework is a simple step by step strategy that allows you to choose the right blend of technologies, people and professional services regardless of your SAM objectives and maturity.

About the Author

Sean Robinson is the CEO of License Dashboard Ltd.