5.5 min to read

Building a Software Asset Management (SAM) program from scratch: what you should do in the first 12 months

aamert ramb
Aamer TrambuProfessional IT Asset Management Consultant
Asset Management

Suppose a company with 5,000 employees has hired you to establish its Software Asset Management program. You are their first hire. So much needs to be done, and you are unsure where to start.

Building a successful SAM program takes time, effort, and a well-defined strategy.

As the first hire tasked with establishing a SAM program for this company, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

However, with the right approach, you can build a program that meets your organization's needs and positions you as a strategic asset in as little as 12 months.

Before you can start building, you must:

  1. Understand your organization

  2. Learn about current procurement processes

  3. Understand your organization's mission and determine how SAM can support that goal

  4. Build an inventory of all hardware assets

  5. Discover software installed and purchased

  6. Determine software publishers with the highest risk of an audit

  7. Quantify the financial risk of software audits

  8. Make it work without a SAM tool

  9. Build a business case for a SAM program so you can get additional resources (staff, tools)

  10. Set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound goals SMART goals for the SAM program for the next twelve months

Let's dive into each of these areas.

1. Understand your organization

Before you can begin building your program, it's essential to understand your organization. A business is like a living being. Every organization is unique, with different structures, cultures, and goals.

Understanding your company’s operations will help you build a program that aligns with its needs and goals. This includes meeting with multiple stakeholders, such as software procurement, IT finance, IT service desk, legal, and end-users who use the company’s software.

2. Learn about current procurement processes

One of the first steps in establishing a SAM program is to learn about your organization’s current procurement processes. You need to know how software is currently purchased, who is responsible for buying it, and what the approval process looks like. This information will help you identify gaps or inefficiencies in the current procurement process and make recommendations for improvement that will benefit your SAM program.

3. Understand your organization’s mission and determine how SAM can support that goal

It’s essential to understand your organization’s mission and goals. By positioning your SAM program as a strategic enabler, you can gain support and buy-in from key stakeholders, ensuring that your program is aligned with the overall business strategy.

A common mistake Software Asset Managers make is assuming that every organization primarily focuses on cost reduction.

This is an incorrect assumption. Some organizations are focused on quicker innovation and reduced time-to-market. This means Software Asset Managers need to hasten new software requests instead of delaying requests to reduce costs and find alternative software that does the same work.

4. Build an inventory of all hardware assets

If you do not know what hardware assets are in operation, you cannot start a SAM program. Find, track, and inventory all hardware assets. Only after you build a list of all hardware assets can you get a sense of the scale of the SAM program.

5. Discover software installed and purchased

Discovering software deployed in the environment is another critical component of a SAM program. This software can be installed on desktops and servers or assigned to users as a service (SaaS). The volume of software installed needs to be tracked and inventoried.

It is also essential to organize your software entitlements. A typical data source for this is your company bookkeeping system or software purchase records from the accounting department. Alternatively, you can contact the software vendor to provide an inventory of historical purchases.

It would help if you also considered that software might have been previously purchased but is no longer deployed.

These tasks will help you gain visibility into your organization’s IT environment. It will build the foundations for you to start identifying software licensing compliance issues in the future.

6. Determining software publishers with the highest risk of an audit

Determining software publishers with the highest risk of an audit will help you prioritize your efforts and allocate resources where they are needed most. It’s critical to note that compliance risks can be costly and time-consuming to address. Therefore, it’s crucial to prioritize your efforts and focus on the areas that pose the highest risks.

7. Quantifying the financial risk of software audits

Your software reseller is an excellent resource on an estimated financial burden of a software audit. Your software reseller works with multiple companies your size and can give you a ballpark estimate of what a Microsoft, Oracle, Quest, IBM, or Adobe audit could cost. Gathering these costs is critical to measuring how much a software audit would impact your organization.

8. Make it work without a SAM tool

Most businesses that do not have a SAM program do not have a SAM tool either. A common misconception at this stage is that having a SAM tool can fix the lack of a SAM program. That is a common pitfall seen among many procurement teams. They believe if only they had a SAM tool, third-party software publisher audits would reduce, software license costs would drop, and software license compliance issues would disappear. This is wishful thinking. A SAM tool by itself is not a SAM program.

9. Building a business case for a SAM program

You can use the above steps to build a business case for a well-established data-driven SAM program. By demonstrating the benefits of a SAM program, and the potential for avoiding unscheduled costs arising from software audits, you can secure additional resources, including staff and tools, to support your efforts.

It’s essential to use the data you have gathered over these 12 months to support your business case, including the financial impact of non-compliance, the cost savings associated with a SAM program, and the potential for improved productivity and efficiency.

10. Set SMART goals for your SAM program for the next 12 months

Finally, it’s important to set SMART goals for your SAM program. By setting clear SMART goals for your program, you can measure progress, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions about the direction of your program.

Building a successful SAM program takes time, effort, and a well-defined strategy. When you understand your organization, learn about the current procurement processes, align the mission of SAM to match the organization’s goal, build an inventory of all hardware assets, discover software installed and purchased, determine high-risk software publishers, quantify the financial risk of software audits, make progress even if you do not have a SAM tool, build a business case for strengthening the SAM program, and set SMART goals, you can establish a SAM program from scratch. This program can meet your organization’s needs and position you as a strategic asset.

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Discover the future of Software Asset Management

Support your digital transformation initiatives with ease by evolving your SAM capability into one that serves you well now and into the future.

Discover the future of Software Asset Management

Support your digital transformation initiatives with ease by evolving your SAM capability into one that serves you well now and into the future.

Author

aamert ramb

Aamer Trambu
Professional IT Asset Management Consultant