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Hello! And welcome to this series of blogs that will look to offer a roadmap on how to steadily improve your SAM program and ensure that maturity is factored into your efforts.


Fundamental to understanding SAM maturity, is a driver/compelling use-case which can be easily conveyed to your business.  Snow were gracious enough to let me wax lyrical via a recent WebEx. You don't have to take in the full recording, but you should at least listen up to the completion of the explanation relating to "The Bermuda Triangle of SAM".  This seeks to highlight the pitfalls of assuming that all parts of the business are working in perfect synchronicity in and around SAM.


So having understood the perils of ignoring SAM, we can move onto a question I am often asked:


What does good SAM look like?


We could leap to the end, and paint that picture of a SAM Manager moving through a business like the Dark Knight unseen, kicking ass and taking names of no-good offenders. However, before you reach for your faux utility belt and shark repellent, we have to go on a journey so that we truly know Gotham.


This first instalment of three will look to identify Good, the second will move on to Better and the final instalment will touch on Best.


Trying to fast-forward to the end (like watching the last five minutes of a movie) will leave you unsatisfied, unfulfilled and not understanding of what went before.


So what does good SAM look like?


First and foremost, you will have established clear unambiguous business and IT goals.  These objectives will be achievable by SAM, but may be realised at a later stage i.e. when Better or Best SAM kicks in. 


Second, you will have a very clear idea of what your SAM boundary is - it could be that you are starting out to reach a state of being able to produce an ELP report for 10 vendors, with your maturity climbing to take on more and more vendors as time goes by.  You might well have certain areas of the business that do not want to play; and so providing this is clearly understood through all elements of the business, then this is fine too. 


Third:  SAM Terms of Reference - once more, you will start out clearly declaring what the role and function of SAM within your company should be.  Is it merely a reporting function?  Or are you expected to drive change/improvements on the reports that you produce?  If it is the latter, then be sure to have your authority to execute change clearly communicated to all necessary stakeholders.  Please be aware:  you might come across the situation where the stakeholders who are expected to implement change on your behalf are the very same people whose errant behaviour has resulted in a SAM shortfall, so the art of diplomacy and tact could be put to the test quite early on.


Communications Plan:  I have seen so many SAM engagements fail because they do not explain themselves properly to the business.  If you are looking for long term buy-in from the business to implement SAM higher and wider than it has been before, then being able to communicate those aspirations should not be left to people's ability to read minds. 


NB:  Your communications plan should also include the Who/ What/ Where/ When/ Why and How of engaging with a software vendor in the event of an audit.  Certain key staff members will also need to be schooled on how to engage with them once a formal audit engagement has begun - conduct will differ from previous day-to-day communications that might have been established.


Completed Gap Analysis:  It might be that your driver for SAM is an impending software vendor audit, or perhaps you have recently been stung by a software vendor audit and don't wish to experience that pain again.  Like any good military leader, you need to be able to marshal your troops to perform given tasks; you also need to understand what non-HR resources you have at your disposal. Do you have the requisite level of technology needed to match/exceed the afore-mentioned scope?  If not, do you have a budget to purchase such technology? Are you going down the DIY route?  It could be that you wish to have a managed service; and a word of caution here too.  Regardless of how much of SAM you wish to kick over the fence, at some point there will be an interface with the business that needs to dovetail seamlessly with business expectations.  This is where your Gap Analysis comes into its own; if you have taken the time to map which SAM processes would have been directed towards which personnel, then when an IT service moves into the cloud you will be in a much better position to understand which elements of that service remain in-house, and which get transferred with the as-a-service provision.


Data Quality:  If you have picked vendors to chase as part of your good SAM initiative, then having a solid grasp of what data is required to produce an ELP (Effective License Position) is vital.  As a minimum, you will need installation data, contract/license/purchase data (collectively known as Proof of Entitlement - PoE) and increasingly, many titles now call for an additional element of data to further maximize the license fee due.  This "third-level metric" could be the CPU manufacturer, CPU power, and/or number of cores of a CPU, or it could be an intangible that your typical inventory systems could be incapable of retrieving: Full Time Employee head count; number of financial transactions that a given software title performed; software usage data - the list goes on.  Having a systematic and quality-led approach to gathering and importing this information is a must-have not only for this level of SAM, but for the Better and Best levels which follow.


Continuous Improvement:  Just a quick word on this to wrap up; very quickly you will come to the conclusion that your PoE does not seamlessly align with the quantity of installations, nor will the hardware on which your software is installed be completely accounted for when you start out.  Look to gauge what a fair effort is when collecting this data, and then look to improve data gathering techniques as you mature.  50% of good SAM is the will to succeed.  It is as much an art as it is a science, and good SAM staff should be innate problem solvers.  Go round, over, under or through - but solve the problem!  You are only as good as the data that you retrieve.