By Rory Canavan
Having recently come to the end of a major professional services engagement with a global client, it got me to thinking about the value of the work I was engaged in. What long-term benefit might be derived from the numerous iterations of software asset management (SAM) process maps, process definition documents and standard operating procedures that kept me on site for several months straight?
One of my last jobs was to print off two copies of all documentation for the project manager to take back to Denmark from London. Having viewed the substantial size of the documentation he needed to take home, we decided that the better approach would be to box it up and ship it, such was the weight!
So, my question to myself was—will the SAM process work have any lasting value?
With much relief, I believe the answer to be yes. From a purely tool-based perspective, it would have been too easy to simply point staff towards the operations guide and let them come up with their own methods and procedures around how to efficiently manage their software estate. However, a more holistic approach was adopted by our customer right from the outset; the company took a “steady state” view of the system that took into account where data was coming from, how it was getting there, who was doing the work, what data was being transmitted and when such activities were being completed. These criteria were not just applied at a generic or high-level, but for each and every function step that formed a process.
Quality assurance (QA) measurements were also added to the processes so that a metric based assessment of their effectiveness could be easily determined. The company has adopted many operations management principles, and will be reviewing its software asset management processes to ensure that they are properly embedded and that outputs are within acceptable statistical and business parameters.
The company’s software asset management processes ensure that they capture license entitlements (purchase orders, contracts), collect accurate inventory and usage data, and perform license reconciliation and license optimization on an ongoing basis. The result is continuous license compliance and control over their software spend.
And this brings me nicely to my introspective question above – had this company merely paid lip service to the process work, with no regard to the flux that businesses go through, change could have made their processes, and the documentation, obsolete in short order. But, because we helped the company develop a set of robust, best practice SAM processes, and built in a periodic review process that will look to modify the documentation on an “as required” basis, their processes will remain up to date and relevant. Best practice processes are the glue that make software asset management work, but they should be open to review and amendment every bit as much as the software they are used to manage.
To learn more, download our whitepaper: NCC Guideline for IT Management: Software Asset and License Management Best Practice, or view our on-demand webinar: How to get started on a SAM Program.