There are a number of companies who specialize in Software Asset Management (SAM). Most, if not all, of them reference the “compliance” and “savings” aspects of SAM. Compliance management is a tactical effort which can show a significant reduction in spending, either directly (now) or in cost avoidance (immediate or near future) over purchasing additional licensing. However, there are other benefits to optimizing the software licensing and usage in a company. When we think “beyond compliance”, other options, possibilities and paths open up.
The first of these is strategic planning. Once a compliance position is reached, the solution you use should be capable of presenting data on how your organization has been utilizing your software assets. The more data you collect, the more accurate the trend over time becomes, allowing you to more effectively and efficiently plan future architecture needs, and software requirements. Knowing how the systems and hardware have been used will allow the technical teams to properly plan expansions, new procurement, and tuning of existing resources. Software usage is just as critical. Knowing what has been used, how often and by whom allows for planning, negotiation, and efficient management of the software estate.
Efficiency is an oft-overlooked aspect of a SAM program. Many companies spend long hours attempting to track what is owned, in use, and outdated. Multiple spreadsheets, databases, and processes are not the most scale-able or efficient methods. Nor are most of the “manual” processes viable if personnel depart the company. Is it possible for someone to step in and pick up the role of SAM management when the transition occurs? In many, many cases, the answer is “No”.
Another area where SAM is highly effective is in vendor relationship management. The software vendors provide a product which allows your company to do business. Any product has an expectation of payment, be it software, hardware, or consulting. In the case of software, unlike the other two, it can be more difficult to track and maintain control or oversight. How many users have downloaded an application or program for their use, on a company machine, without first checking the licensing/use requirements in a corporate setting? A proper SAM solution allows for oversight of the estate, and provides insight when discussions open with the software vendors. Having control of the landscape shows a willingness to abide by the rules, and to maintain control. This can go a long way to easing tensions and stress during audits.
Which brings up another aspect of compliance/beyond compliance. Most, if not all, software vendors have an annual reporting/audit cycle. Creating the reports for these vendors can be a nightmare, impacting efficiency, and increasing the headaches of compliance, procurement, and technical teams. A well-designed SAP solution will allow you to generate the reports needed with much less effort, reflecting control and a willingness to abide by the use rights in your contracts.
Many of these “non-compliance” points refer back to the contracts, compliance, and control. That is something which must or should always be remembered: SAM is primarily focused on compliance, on the contractual terms by which software is used, BUT it also is able to impact planning, efficiency, and management in a positive way throughout the company. There are companies who insist they do not need “compliance” oversight, or believe that compliance is an end state, and they reject any discussion which begins to touch on contracts. That can be an extraordinarily short-sighted view. Other companies may have the view that compliance is not necessary, that strategic planning, efficiency, management are their goals, and do not want to discuss compliance. This is also short-sighted, and ignoring the compliance aspect can, and usually does, lead to incorrect assumptions and long-term strategic miss-steps. Compliance is nothing short of a jumping off point that is very much connected and interwoven within the fabric of strategic planning, efficiency, and vendor management. It is when a company focuses on “beyond compliance” that future growth, new expansions, new procurement, and tuning of existing resources becomes reality.
Contact us at AOF Solutions for strategy, planning, and management. We can help keep you Always Out Front!