What is the connection between Software Asset Management (SAM) and a baby? Wait a minute and read!
Well, as a father, I have watched my two kids – a boy and a girl – closely: how they grew up, learning every day, adding capabilities with experience. While they were tiny, cute and quite manageable in the earliest part of their lives, the educational requirements for their parents have become more demanding every year. This is an excellent example of how to “grow with your challenges”. Nature was smart enough to stretch the demanded level of parental excellence required for a pubescent teenager to more than a decade. It’s good that children are small and have few needs when they are born. Their development takes a long time and I am happy that this gave me enough time to develop as a parent. I’m saying this with a smile, because I can’t complain about my children as they are prepare to start their studies at university.
SAM needs to grow up, too
With this lesson learnt in my life, I am concerned about customers who “give birth” to their corporate Software Asset Management (SAM) program, expecting at least high-school grade performance within the first year of life. Why is that? Am I partly guilty for helping to provide a SAM tool that suggests an easy way of dealing with a highly complex matter? Is it because people in IT – since in most cases they are responsible for achieving license compliance transparency – usually believe everything can be automated with a simple script or a sophisticated tool, if required?
It is true that correct licensing is a tough issue. A myriad of software deployments across heterogeneous platforms, and a long history of license purchases and master agreements, meet frequently changing licensing terms from hundreds of software vendors. This creates a complex recipe for a lack of transparency and a range of challenges. Anyone responsible for license compliance in an organization may be at a loss and wondering how to deal with this. However those people should remember that their “baby” is neither meant to start university, buy a house or plan a marriage any time soon.
Think big but act small. That’s the secret to taking care of your newborn SAM program.
- … create a corporate environment that establishes a friendly space to grow.
- … make sure that everyone – especially all senior managers – understand that learning and improving is a process, not a single project.
- … promote your mission statement, explain your vision, identify and engage with everyone in the company, telling them that you need to raise your “baby” with safety, commitment and sustainability.
- … develop a roadmap based on priorities, but take the time to understand the issues and learn how to succeed.
- … continuously reprioritize your intermediate goals and optimize your processes. But on the other hand, no, don’t expect that you will gain complete control over compliance for most or even all of your software vendors.
And no, don’t pretend you can achieve compliance through an all-out assault.
Have fun in what you are doing
One of the key factors on your way to achieving continuous control and management of license compliance is to establish a resilient starting point. Choose the software vendor that is most important for your organization and start to understand the situation. Review and analyze the relevant volume license agreements. Collect and reconcile your license purchase history. Those initial tasks are essential before you start looking at all those software deployment data you may have already gathered. Only then can you establish transparency over the haze of where respective applications are installed and how they are used. The SAM tool will help you to reconcile your technical inventory with all the available licenses that you have already validated.
Once you have established the opening balance for the first vendor – or even just for a single product family – you have reached the point at which you can hand over this defined scope to your operational SAM team. Since they then have all relevant information and understand the reconciliation process, they are enabled to maintain license compliance transparency. This is a time to celebrate and promote the progress to your managers, before you start another iteration for initial reconciliation of compliance with another vendor, or the next product family.
Slowly but surely, your SAM program will grow and flourish. Enjoy your journey while you see it maturing. Dale Carnegie once said: “People hardly succeed, unless they have fun in what they are doing.” Having fun is a result of your success and the esteem in which you are held by those that understand the value of your work. Take care, stay dedicated, and see your SAM program maturing step-by-step.