Many executives interested in Software Asset Management (SAM) today know that SAM is complex. However, they often believe the fix comes in the form of automation. Many executives will ask how SoftwareONE provides value when they expect their tool to do it all. How do we respond?
I was recently asked by an executive from a large bank in New York City – what is the value that SoftwareONE provides on top of the SAM tool?
Implicit in his question was the presumption that the tool promises to provide all of the necessary information a SAM team needs to drive compliance and optimization so why would he need anyone or anything else?
It is not always easy to have a strong appreciation for the inner-workings of a SAM program, especially when you are about to spend a million or more dollars to buy a world-class SAM tool that some companies feel should “just get the job done.” As I explained the value of managed services, it quickly became clear to me that I was losing my audience. I paused and said, “you’ve just bought a lawn mower, but who’s going to operate it, tend to your sprinklers, weed the beds and trim the hedges?”
One simple way to think about the value SoftwareONE provides in a SAM managed services is analogous to a lawn service. The SAM tool is like the lawnmower and SoftwareONE is the gardener.
The first area where SoftwareONE provides value is tool support. In medium to complex environments, this is 20-40 hours or more per week, and often an underappreciated consideration in some SAM programs.
The importance of this support is to proactively:
- Ensure and improve tool health and design
- Improve discovery coverage to 100%
- Monitor interfaces like SCCM, ADDM, UD, etc. (weekly/monthly quality check of data imports and what has changed)
- Build and maintain complex integrations to other systems like ServiceNow, Ariba and many others
- Update software signatures into the tool’s recognition library where nonexistent
- Perform upgrades on scheduled intervals
SoftwareONE is often the first line of defense to support the SAM tools due to our deep technical experience, having worked with most SAM tools for more than a decade. For most tools we have premier support privileges that most other providers do not – meaning we can escalate, if needed, for the fastest resolutions possible. Equally important, customers want a full service company to maintain integrity from design through operations to avoid delays and finger-pointing. SoftwareONE has done thousands of SAM tool implementations and currently supports over 500 clients in our managed services.
Just like water for your grass, without trustworthy data a SAM program is dead.
The hard truth is getting a SAM tool properly accounting for 50,000 assets, across four domains, with 30,000 employees, 400 cost centers, 16 regions, using three different discovery tools and then adjusting for the myriad nuances in licensing rules that the SAM tool does not automatically handle takes six to twelve months.
Trustworthy data is the hub, and one key to getting it, is in understanding where organizations fail. Most clients think that asset discovery is the biggest challenge, but far more SAM projects fail due to an inability to understand license entitlements. Why?
- Entitlements cannot be automated – few customers can provide software SKUs, accurate product descriptions, etc.
- For historical entitlements, every publisher and purchase needs to be verified, and this means man hours looking at all software contracts, agreements, renewals, true-ups, etc.
- Inability to define and support an ongoing license desk to import new entitlements from PO, invoices, resellers
SoftwareONE leverages five different methods for getting useful entitlements:
- Extracts of PDF files from a document library like Ariba, Documentum, etc.
- Direct access to contracts for major publishers like Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Oracle, SAP, VMware, etc.
- Work with procurement teams to get PO’s, Quotes and Invoices
- Establish VAR Feed(s) process where every month resellers like SoftwareONE, SHI, Insight and others send extracts from their purchasing systems
- Go direct to a publisher with a “special script” to get info without causing any concerns that could trigger an audit
Upon meshing together entitlement and discovery data within any SAM tool, most will undoubtedly have the same response that a Fortune 100 SAM program leader did in 2017. This executive in charge wrote:
“Initial compliance reports [produced by the tool] are alarmingly off.”
In an all too common scenario, customers fail to realize that connecting data sources and entitlements to the licensing tool does not “magically” result in compliance. The real key is having people who are experts in license management and experienced in the top 20+ publishers where clients spend 80% of their money. SoftwareONE provides most of its value by establishing ongoing savings programs focused on:
- Avoiding licenses (before purchase)
- Metering usage and recommendations for discontinuance
- Re-assignment of licenses (re-harvesting)
- Deployment optimization and
- Tool rationalization
Risk can present itself through the tool and Effective License Positions (ELP). Much of the risk often lies buried in the line item level details until it’s pulled forward and highlighted in actionable intelligence.
More often than not, risk is found in weak process areas like asset retirement, or in not fully understanding the publisher’s licensing policies. SoftwareONE consultants review each asset lifecycle process and recommend improvements as well as produce summary reports that recommend actions, highlight needed decisions and drive cost savings.
Nearly 9 in 10 companies today are far more immature and need help in terms of SAM expertise and manpower. SoftwareONE has experts and the solutions to safeguard in audit situations. For a recent client we helped thwart a Microfocus audit completely and thereafter identified over $10 million in risk associated with how an organization had deployed Oracle virtually.
SoftwareONE are gardeners. We feel the SAM tools are necessary to efficiently do our jobs, but by themselves, the tools are worthless. SAM tools only work because of the people, processes and information that are poured into them and, even then, still need continuous cultivation to work properly.
In a 2016 Gartner poll, experts were asked “What’s the most important SAM tool functionality? The overwhelmingly highest response (48%) said a “SAM analyst to make sense of it all” – making sense of it all is our value proposition.