Integrating SAM in Service Management Processes

By Caroline Arends

If your organization has low or no funds for Software Asset Management (SAM), how can you add value to your organization as a Software Asset Manager on top of savings on software? Acting as a Software Asset Manager myself I took this challenge and decided I needed a different approach other than the usual SAM strategy. Not by stating SAM is important, but to position SAM differently. By integrating SAM into Service Management processes, SAM is now recognized as an essential practice for our organization and is supported by the board. Looking back to my journey I came to the conclusion that 5 steps were important to move SAM to a next phase. I hope my insights will inspire software asset managers to cooperate with process managers in their organization.

In my organization, an academic hospital with over 10,000 employees and a tenfold on software uses, I am responsible for Software Asset Management and was tasked to implement SAM. As medical costs are increasing every year, our organization is under continuous pressure to safe money while providing a high quality service. This meant that I only had limited funding available to achieve my goals. After implementing the basic SAM processes, I took the approach to integrate SAM with existing Service Management processes as this would result in a greater reach for only a small cost.

Step 1: Process inventory

The best start is to gain insight by creating an overview of the implemented processes. The ITIL framework was used when I started working as a Software Asset Manager, but nowadays we are practitioners of the Dutch ISM/FSM framework, resulting in a mixture of both, using the best fitting processes for our environment. This first step helped me make clear which processes were most important to the organization and with whom to align with.

Step 2: Start small and gain first successes

Secondly, I got in contact with the process managers. In small organizations this can be only one person, but in most organizations there will probably be a team. You can start wherever you like, but I recommend to get in touch with Incident Management and Change Management first as IT- management are aware of most incidents. You can ask Incident Management if there were any incidents related to SAM.

Some examples:

  • If there has been an incident in the server park, you can ask if all the assets where identified and what problems they ran into. Or,
  • If there was an incident with a certain application; what did go wrong?

For Change Management, you can discuss changes that are not progressing well and see if you can relate those to SAM.

Helping solve some of these issues not only gives you a lot of goodwill that forms an essential foundation for structural improvements, it also gets you management support for SAM. After some talks, we decided to add a license checklist to the Change Management process. With this, I became more in control of the software and Change Management had more information on software that had to be deployed.

Step 3: Extend SAM value

After these first steps I wanted to integrate some more with Service Management disciplines. The next function I approached was Service Level Management. The IT department wanted to add more value for its customers, so after a talk with Service Level Management we started adding SAM information to the SLA’s. It gave me the opportunity to make clear how SAM can contribute to the contract owner of an application. The SLA now explains what SAM can do for a contract owner, e.g. compliancy checks of the software that is managed by IT, specific usage terms of the software, information on how to maintain compliancy / stay compliant, who to contact when the contract owner receives an audit request, etc. This increased customer satisfaction and now contract owners know of the existence of SAM and reach out to the SAM team easily.

Step 4: Knowledge Management

By having co-workers pro-actively coming to SAM it was time to add software information in our Service Portal. Users are now informed of the software they can use in our organization. They can read a summary of the usage terms for each software product . We also publish explanations why some types of employees are not able to use certain software. Quick links are provided to get in contact with SAM when there are questions about usage or compliancy. There was a lot of positive feedback after implementing this step. The users were very satisfied with the information provided. Nowadays there is more understanding for SAM. And as an extra benefit, Service Desk employees are able to refer to these pages when helping customers.

Step 5: Financial Management

A talk with the Finance department provided insight in the financial structure of the organization and as a result now there is an alert for large software expenses which did not go through SAM.

Getting in contact with other process managers really helped me to move SAM forward. It added value to the organization and improved customer satisfaction. I hope this article inspires SAM/ ITAM practitioners to get more in contact with process managers to achieve the same kind of results.

Special thanks to Maarten Overman for reviewing this article.

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