Although, Software Asset Management discipline is continuously developing and many organizations have identified Software Asset Management (SAM) as a valuable activity for risk management and cost management. Yet, the implementation approach of organizations is often instrumental: starting by selecting a SAM tool and muddling through to a very limited level of SAM competence. SAM deserves a proper implementation strategy. Use this article to improve your start and results along the way.

In general, organizations tend to underestimate the effort of implementing SAM. This often results in only mediocre results. Gartner, world’s leading research and advisory company, dived into this matter last year and published an analysis on the common experienced SAM implementation hurdles, as shown briefly in the image below[1]

At ITAM solutions we recognize these mistakes in our daily work. In this article we will discuss these topics from our own practice

Not looking to the (near) future
An upcoming software audit or a general cost reduction program is often the starting point for a first implementation of SAM. Organizations reach out to SAM tooling and strategies to address this urgent need. The SAM implementation is therefore reactive and targeted at short term wins. Yet, on the longer term the SAM tooling and resources are often not sufficient (see also mistake nr. 5: ‘Ignoring the Cloud’).

Advice: ITAM solutions’ aim is to implement future-proof SAM, always taking into account the broader and future objectives of an organization. Of course, an organization cannot be SAM mature in a day, but by putting the right building blocks in the right order, SAM maturity can be built step by step. It is highly recommendable not trying to cover the entire software landscape at once. Focus on your top software vendors first. Make a list of your top-publishers (by software spend and audit risk) and target them first. Typically, about 80% of your software spend is consumed by 20% of the vendors you have software contracts with. Think ahead! Your software landscape will evolve (shifting into Cloud) and so will your SAM business case.

Poor Consumption and Entitlement data
Knowing where you are is crucial in creating the SAM roadmap towards where you want to be. Often, organizations do not have a clear picture on their software entitlements versus their consumption. There is a lack of automized discovery of hardware and software assets, software contracts are spread throughout the organization over several business owners and data sources are difficult to migrate. Going to the Cloud (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) adds even more complexity, just think of how you will be able to retrieve the usage data!
Advice: Start by deploying a profound discovery and inventory methodology to retrieve hardware and software data. Since this will be an ongoing activity in your SAM operations this methodology should contain tooling, and also resources and processes. With data-gathering in place, next step is continuous evaluation of the discovery data quality. Is it actual, reliable and complete? For a complete discovery you also might need to incorporate (non)software data sources. CLEM (Contract License Entitlement Management; in other words what is the organization allowed to use) is a parallel process to gain transparency on the rights and obligations regarding the use of software. Once you know where you are, you can gear up your License Compliance process with innovative dashboards.

No Charter or Governance
An effective SAM Charter defines a clear understanding of what the organization wants to achieve. It helps to avoid undesired results, scope creep, cost overrun and delays. Unfortunately, most organizations that struggle with SAM are those that start looking at SAM tools, without first putting a framework in place that describes the SAM goals, processes, roles and responsibilities.
Advice: With a strong business case and a formal SAM Charter / SAM policy, there is a clear goal, management commitment, a set of rules and an approach to the gameplay. This will avoid delay during implementation. A strong governance model works on all level; strategic, tactical and operational. The SAM strategy, as an outcome of the SAM policy, comprises clear processes around the software life cycles and all related operational activities. Make sure you communicate your SAM policy throughout the organization (not just within IT) as you want to cooperate effectively with other departments. And last but not least: define how your SAM practice results will be measured. Is it about how many unused software titles you discover? How much risk you avert? Or how much money you save? The latter may be most convincing to your management.

Lack of Executive Sponsorship
Many SAM-teams struggle with their place in the organization. After all, Software Asset Managers need to collaborate with many (if not all) departments and their management. Yet, they are easily perceived as firebrands, waving with reports about faults, sharp practices and overspending. Support from senior management is highly beneficiary to SAM success.
Advice: Organizations need to embrace the SAM-targets to make it successful. ITAM solutions underlines the importance of the commitment of top-level management on the SAM strategy and execution. Executive support is needed to yield success, to raise awareness, collaboration throughout departments and focus on the SAM objectives.

Ignoring the Cloud
Many organizations still have a focus on implementing software on their on-premise IT landscape. Cloud is usually considered a struggle. Also: SAM tooling is hardly up to speed for SaaS, PaaS and IaaS environments. Yet, research shows that Cloud assets are frequently underused because users are either inactive or on higher subscription plans than required.
Advice: Since compliance is less of an issue in the cloud, the aim of SAM for cloud is to minimize waste and manage cloud cost. ‘Fit for Cloud’ is an increasingly necessary requirement for your SAM Charter today. SAM tooling for Cloud is a different game than an on-premise or hybrid tooling: It may not provide the usage data that you need. There are new players in the field: smaller, more agile and completely cloud-specialized vendors you might not have heard of. In our ‘Webinar on SaaS management tooling’ we will tell you all about it.

Webinar on-demand ‘SaaS management tooling: how do I choose the right one?
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So far our brief advice to help you avoid the five most common mistakes implementing SAM. Do you have an upcoming SAM implementation? Or do you have any questions on the above- mentioned topics? Feel free to contact ITAM solutions at any time.

ITAM solutions
P: +31 (0)40 369 05 40

Simone van Sambeek
MD ITAM solutions

[1]  Gartner, “five common mistakes when implementing SAM’’ by Steven White. October 1, 2020. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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