Tony Spruyt, SAM Services Manager UK

Painting ceilings and walls and waiting for them to dry are chores we know we have to do but would really rather not. Despite losing hours (or days) of our lives doing it, we can almost guarantee that once we’ve finished someone will walk in, survey our handiwork and say those immortal words, ‘I think you’ve missed a bit’. Usually, at that point, we sigh, sit down and begin to contemplate why we didn’t acquire the services of a professional decorator.

Some things steal away our time. Software asset management (SAM) is one of those things.

Nothing feels more unproductive than sifting through all those software licences that we have accumulated over the years. Really, shouldn’t there be the IT equivalent of decorators who, given an endless supply of tea and biscuits can simply do it all for us?

What are the chances?

Organisations, just like people, have a tendency to accumulate stuff. These days that stuff is usually software. And that’s tedium incarnate.

For many, getting a grip of software assets means assigning someone to manage it. For the poor soul designated to that task, it can often seem like wasted time. Think about it. Anything we do that we’d rather not be doing has a tendency to conjure up mistakes. We miss stuff because our minds are demanding we go do something more fun and productive. Given that scenario, what then, are the chances of the job being done right? Ultimately, we may find a lot of missed bits. And a missed bit can sometimes lead to an arm wrestling match with a software supplier. When that happens companies may well end up paying for something they hadn’t budgeted for.

Lightning does strike twice

Managing software licences is important. If we don’t manage them well, then storm clouds can soon gather overhead. At some point those hovering storm clouds break, small fluffy animals are harmed and there’s a distinct possibility that someone is going to get either very, very wet or zapped by a lightning bolt courtesy of an irate CFO.

Maybe some of us have already had a near miss and in which case it’s always worth remembering that contrary to the saying that lightning doesn’t strike twice, it does. There is a reason they put lightning rods on tall buildings. The more software assets a company has, the more time is needed to manage them.

Amateur doctor

SAM is an ongoing task. Think of it like painting the Fourth Bridge. It’ll never be done until either retirement hits or a lightning bolt strikes.

But let’s say an IT department has built a nice database full of all its software assets. They know what software is being used, where and by whom. The infrastructure guys, the App support guys and project managers can all see what’s where and why. Yay, job done but then the bigger question is, who is going to manage it all in the long-term? Who will monitor it, generate alerts, highlight the presence of duplicate software or show where unnecessary costs are hitting the bottom line?

SAM needs effective management. No one would let an amateur doctor look after their health so why would anyone contemplate leaving an important service in the hands of someone who is pressed for time? Otherwise, there is every chance that within a few short months the asset database has morphed back into a spaghetti of misunderstanding.

Not just for Xmas

Vendors often talk about the “Value-add” their software solutions can bring. With SAM software this is actually true. It’s a function many of us need, albeit not one that many of us relish undertaking. But there is a ‘But’. Vendors may promise that their SAM tools will take away the pain but like puppies, these tools are not just for Xmas. Simply acquiring and installing SAM software without professionally management can result in a wasted investment.

A swarm of locusts

If anything was suited to a managed service, it is SAM. Once an organisation has taken stock then why not acquire a managed service provider to take away the pain of managing it all?

Today life is fast but IT life is even faster. Software is evolving at an almost exponential rate. We are consuming software with the voraciousness of a swarm of locusts hitting a ripened corn field. Having a professional service that lets IT managers tell at a glance whether they need more licences, that they are paying for duplicate functionality or that they can finally stop paying software supplier ‘X’, has got to be better than torturing some poor soul within the IT department whose heart may not be in it.

There is always an audit

Most IT managers know that software suppliers like customers who are sloppy with their software management because it means there is a good chance they aren’t compliant with the supplier’s licence terms. Usually, this leads to a sly smile from the designated account manager followed by an audit – there is always an audit. In turn, that may quickly lead to the sound of money flowing out of the CIO’s coffers and into the software supplier’s accompanied by an unwelcome roar from within the CFO’s lair.

Lightning conductor

A professionally managed SAM service can, and will, save a lot of grief and free people to do their day jobs. We can all be our own decorator, lose days (even months) that we won’t get back in a hurry and still end up missing a few bits. Or, we can hand it over to professionals. Put simply, a SAM managed service might prove to be one of the best investments a CIO can make. Look at what it can deliver:

  • Transparency of software topology,

  • Compliance with software suppliers’ T&Cs,

  • Full insight into costs for budget management,

  • Predict future licence needs,

  • Automatically detect unused assets,

  • Highlight the key stages of the software life-cycle (end-of-life, renewals etc.),

  • Expose essential information to IT support and project teams,

  • Access to licence experts whose advice may help reduce the IT bottom line,

  • Easy to digest information at the click of a button.

Well managed SAM can help keep CIOs safe if not sane. It makes sense to explore what services are available that will save time, effort, money and avoid any puppies eating the furniture or leaving the odd smelly present for you to tread in.

Of course, CIOs could always wait for the storm to hit, though they may need to fit lightning conductors to their heads.

For expert advice on how to approach your SAM strategy in 3 simple steps speak with one of our SAM Consultants today

Tony Spruyt | SAM Services Manager, UK | mobile: +44 (0) 7827 727 978 | email:

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