Industry talking to customers What's this? 4 steps for SAM excellence Published: January 22nd, 2017 By: IT World Canada Staff As organizations increase their familiarity with software asset management (SAM) and its many benefits, many anxiously seek to implement and leverage SAM tools and solutions. SAM can help organizations to better understand its software licensing and procurement, avoid duplication and reduce software spend, and eliminate the risks and costs associated with vendor audits. But achieving the most from SAM requires a few best practices be followed. According to Rik Schaap, Software Asset Management consultant at Comparex Canada, organizations seeking excellence in their SAM practices should abide four best practices during important stages of deployment. Ensure a commercial inventory (as well as a technical one) – “The first step to any effective SAM practice is license control,” Schaap says. “But 9 out of 10 SAM tools focus only on the organization’s technical inventory.” The commercial inventory incorporates all the licensing contracts, ERP data and procurement information, which is then aligned with the inventory of software being used on endpoints through an automated process. Which leads to the next important best practice. Automate (almost) everything – An effective SAM platform should automate as much of the process as possible. For example, the SAM2GO Profiler used by Comparex, places a unique identifier on each piece of software recognized by its database of tens of thousands of products (from more than 12,000 vendors). This successfully automates 80 to 85 per cent of the technical inventory process, preparing experts to reconcile the two inventories. Reconcile and rationalize – Here is where a SAM deployment creates ROI, through software optimization and rationalization. The SAM solution should map the two inventories for discrepancies, but also pay close attention to how the software is being used. As software vendors continually expand applications, they increasingly take on features already offered elsewhere. “For example, how many PDF readers does the organization need installed?” Schaap asks rhetorically. “Do we really need four publishers of software doing the same task?” Any effective SAM solution must ferret out these areas of software optimization. Visibility is necessary, but expertise is key – The purpose of SAM is to better understand and make strategic decisions around the software procurement and deployment. This cannot be done without the visibility through a rich, full-featured dashboard, but that itself is not enough, says Erik Moll, Comparex Canada’s Director of Digital Transformation. “You can have the best dashboard ever, but you need an expert or more likely experts who can interpret, analyze and assess the data,” he says. “This is because we don’t make decisions on data, we make them on information.”Moll notes that the expertise required to turn such data—software inventory, an understanding of the licensing rules across thousands of vendors, software optimization opportunities, procurement standards, global purchasing opportunities, and more—into actionable information is hard to find in any individual. That, he says, is where Managed SAM as a Service comes into play. “No one person can manage all the rules and data, but a team of SAM2Go experts can meet that challenge easily,” he says. Moll says that by optimizing and automating the stages of a SAM practice, organizations can move beyond its traditional benefits and use SAM to truly transform IT.This is the fifth in a blog series on COMPAREX SoftCare. For an overview on the solution, view the first blog in the series, and watch for our next blog to learn how an optimized SAM practice can transform IT.