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3.8 min to readAsset Management

Change for the sake of change: how staff motivation affects SAM projects

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Ulrike van KollPrincipal Consultant SAM Services
Asset Management

We inhabit a world of work that insists on the completion of projects, but without measuring success. Somebody defines the objective; then comes the investment of plenty of time and money; finally the project is completed and the topic slips off the agenda in favor of the next project in line. Eventually we notice a dip in staff motivation. And while the effort does bring results, they are often tucked away in a drawer, where they crumble to dust. It takes change to break this cycle.

Here are the reasons for the erosion of motivation among SAM project managers.

Reasons of motivation for SAM project managers

In my day-to-day project routines, we often visit companies in which SAM is just one project among many. The employees we encounter appear disinterested at the idea of embarking on yet another new project and seem timid of change. Clear patterns can be inferred from this experience, and they must be recognized and addressed as problems:

  1. An audit is often to blame for the urge to improve the SAM process. The workload, the penalty and the costs act as the trigger – not the realization that things have to change.
  2. There may be individual persons involved in projects who place their knowledge over the experience of others. In this case, positions and hierarchies can easily lead to imbalance.
  3. Changing existing roles and processes can spread fear among stakeholders. What if we lose something or even have to accept a heavier workload?
  4. The decision to roll out an SAM tool is discussed and handed down by the head of IT and company management. Affected employees like license managers are rarely included in the decision-making process.

There are other problems that can cause a change project to fail of course, including excessive workload, vague responsibilities or lack of management support.

How SAM change processes cultivate awareness throughout the company

It is reasonable to claim that audits can be a good motivation for change processes. Initially, management displays significant awareness for the compliance and licensing security needed to avoid or satisfy any subsequent payments down the line. Regrettably, though, this awareness doesn’t spread beyond the management level and is usually a short-term affair. Awareness throughout the company is often lacking.

This is why you should take the following factors into account:

  1. Foster long-term awareness for compliance throughout your staff and managers in order to drive change.
  2. Accept that SAM applications like metering are not surveillance tools and can instead save your company time and effort.
  3. Strengthen your focus on SAM to minimize possible financial sanctions and workload in the event of an audit.

It is difficult to nurture this awareness throughout the company, which makes it one of the biggest challenges. But your focus should be on this point precisely. You need to sensitize your staff for compliance issues. Let’s not forget, motivation is a key factor in the success of your project, also after six, twelve or 24 months.

Why change begins with users

Anyone taking a serious look at the topic of change in a corporate environment will inevitably encounter a couple of names and models. For instance the model developed by the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, which originally addressed the cycle of grief, but nevertheless divides every process of accepting change into stages that crop up time and again in companies as well. These individual stages can apply to employees as well during major internal or external change processes.

The Kübler-Ross Curve, adapted for companies (illustration: SoftwareOne)

Imagine for a moment an audit scenario: Your employees face significant workload and pressure in their day-to-day work, and suddenly they realize that their compliance with licensing requirements still leaves a lot to be desired. They are revealed to be ignorant of the licensing situation in their own company, and even fear dismissals due to a punitive fine. The employees become enraged and start pointing the finger at each other. The general motivation to embrace change in a positive light takes a steep nosedive.

The decision to introduce Software Asset Management throughout the company was taken at management level and was communicated in the following instruction: “We’re going to launch SAM now. Over to you, Mr. XY, get it done!” But Mr. XY feels abandoned and doesn’t even realize how Software Asset Management could help him and his work. It gets too much for him, and so he is no longer able to invest his skills and expertise.

Decisions made at management level need ongoing support from the senior echelons of the company. Ideas will only be successful if they are embraced “at the top”. The aim must be to integrate staff members at the earliest opportunity and to pick them up directly in their own working environments. It is imperative to address questions like “Will I now be observed?”, “Is this going to replace me?”, “What will my job look like in future?”, “What do I stand to lose?”, “Will I even cope with the new SAM software?” Anyone who has experienced change processes on frequent occasions will know that these questions are rarely about content. Instead they are – and the processes they release – highly emotional for users.

Summary: Include your employees as early and completely as possible in the SAM change process

The right approach is to include the staff in IT, purchasing and HR first of all and to develop strategies and solutions with them. Acceptance of change will be heightened significantly if you process your own fears and rise to fresh challenges. This requires leadership at management level, not just the issue of orders.

Before anything can be embraced and hence become part of the corporate culture, it must first be accepted.

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Do you need help with your Software Asset Management project?

Read all facts about the SAM Services we offer and discover how we can support you in realizing your SAM project.

Do you need help with your Software Asset Management project?

Read all facts about the SAM Services we offer and discover how we can support you in realizing your SAM project.


A woman wearing glasses and a red scarf.

Ulrike van Koll
Principal Consultant SAM Services

Managing compliance projects with focus on Microsoft