Chances are, I’m in the minority when I reveal that Software Asset Management has for years been a passion of mine. I am fascinated by the mere evolution of software licensing as it went from complicated, to super-complicated, to super-ultra-complicated. For the past 15 years, my personal mission has been to help customers understand the rules and then apply those rules in ways that reduce risk and save money. At face value, SAM can often appear very black and white. What I hope you soon realize is that there is much more that contributes to this strategy.
After numerous journeys with customers through a bewildering maze of scenarios, I’ve concluded that the pulse of a good SAM practice is the self-audit. And there are several tools, some very expensive, that attempt to automate all aspects of SAM. When coupled with the right human resources, capital, and executive support these tools can produce truly amazing results. If you have successfully implemented such a tool then congratulations, you’ve already reached the pinnacle of SAM! My guess is that universe is fairly small, so for the rest of us, myself included, let me address the struggle to find the best way to implement SAM into an environment.
For starters, think of SAM in the simplest terms as a ledger. On the left side of the ledger are the licenses you own (or on a trendier level, subscribe to as in subscription-based licensing). On the right side of the ledger is a list of what is currently in use. The SAM self-audit exercise balances the ledger: find where you might be under-licensed and also where you may be over-licensed. The goal is to license what you use and only pay for what you need. At PC Connection, we conduct these self-audits for customers as a SAM Engagement. The engagement provides a fantastic foundation for an organization’s overall SAM program. But that’s not the end. Of equal importance are regular self-audits on key major software publishers. Why? Economic urgency. Ongoing vigilance is imperative to maximize cost savings opportunities and penalty avoidance.
Unfortunately many SAM programs fail or dwindle because SAM can be an uphill climb. It can be very labor intensive to implement and very difficult to justify. Unfortunately, it’s not very sexy, and it lacks the appeal of major upgrades, hardware refreshes, and other flashy IT projects. Here’s the reality: if you do SAM right, nothing exciting really happens. Business moves, people have the stuff they need, and there are no ugly financial surprises. That can make any spend for its success a tough sell to the CFO—who may prefer a more concrete return on investment.
It’s also no big secret that along with the rise in licensing complexity, software publishers have become more aggressive with customer audits. Recently I met with a large customer in Texas who as of July has already had at least six major audits. Each audit takes a significant toll on the organization. The impact spans general uncertainty, anxiety, the fear of finding something bad yielding big fines, costs associated with True-Ups, the time it takes to run whatever scanning agent the auditing firm is using, arguments over the results, delivering bad news to the C-suite—it’s a guaranteed major headache, every time.
To help you decipher a more productive path, we created a video that provides a high level view of the assessment process. My advice is to get ahead of that curve and do self-audits without the pressure of a real audit. It still has a sense of urgency like that of a real audit, only it’s proactive instead of reactive. The end result is either you find out your licensing is in great shape, or you discover it isn’t in great shape and you can fix it. Once it’s fixed, you will reduce risk, and probably save some money along the way. These benefits will appeal to any C-level executive. Now your SAM program has more visibility and impact, and can pave the way for more expansive SAM programs that use those amazing tools and processes.
To learn how we run SAM Engagements for our customers, you can watch this video. Our team has a lot of these under their belt, with customers large and small from just about every industry. Our experience shows that the process helps customers achieve positive licensing outcomes. We can apply the same proven principles to your organization; let us know how we can help you!