Creating SAM Objects: We know that Software Asset Management is, by definition, the right blend of systems, people and processes to effectively manage software and software-related assets through every aspect of their IT lifecycle. Much has been made of what technologies we apply to this cocktail of controls; licensing knowledge is essential to understand the metrics by which vendors calculate usage (and therefore expense). Systems knowledge is equally prized, as with the exponential growth of companies, we require bigger and better tools to offer timely and accurate data to interact with the licensing knowledge. Finally, we need the processes and the order of execution of those instructions to ensure that we fully understand what information is being captured and how.
However, we need to be careful that we do not place too much power in the hands of any one leg of this triumvirate of support, and so need to consider ways and means of abstracting such knowledge into the realm of the company, rather than such methods remaining the preserve of a chosen few (who, by default, become single points of failure).
So what supporting objects can we create within our Software Asset Management system to ensure that we offer a company the best chance of succeeding with Software Asset Management beyond offering an operations manual to a dedicated system?
A Supported Software Catalogue: A baseline inventory assessment may indicate that because software has been discovered, it’s supported. However, if you dig down a little deeper, you may well find titles that have proliferated through your IT estate unhindered by IT prior to the implementation of the Software Asset Management plan. Software titles should be approved technically to ensure info sec requirements are met, as are technology roadmap requirements, and also compatibility issues with other software. Managerially/fiscally, a decision may also want to be taken in relation to a cost/benefit analysis of a title to the business. Finally, of course, rationalising versions and editions of software can make licensing and support easier on you IT teams.
User Types/Profiles: It may be that we might be lucky enough to be able to lean on a well-kept Active Directory structure which highlights which users can have which rights to perform certain tasks with software. If so (and usage data can then support spurious activity on a network) then a cursory assessment against an AD structure will determine whether or not software installs were legitimate. One qualification within this area might be the role of Software Developers – all too typically, developers are given carte blanche to install software on a live network with little or no regard to formal change management controls. If software pops up unannounced on certain systems (and again, log on data is available) then a check against a current developer list could prevent escalated activities around investigation/removal or even disciplinary action.
Software Asset Configuration/Generic Builds: If we remain in the Software Asset Management world for the moment, then we can state that we essentially view devices as nothing more than as a collection of software titles. If you are looking to standardise your devices, then lists of software that comprise those standard builds feeds very nicely into the concept of ITIL through Software Asset Configuration Management.
Licensing Models: It is vital that information pertaining to the licensing models applied to a company’s software contracts and licences does not remain in the head of any one individual. Such a single point of failure would offer an unacceptable risk even over such routine experiences as holidays or a protracted hospital engagement. Note too, that licensing models should be reviewed and refreshed (where appropriate) at least annually, including any metrics that are used to calculate licence consumption.
A Training Plan: The training plan should be informed by:
Software Asset Management Plan Requirements
Staff shortfalls in all of the above
A Software Asset Management Plan: This is one of my most dis-liked phrases from the ISO 19770-1; many ISO standards talk of Management Systems, but for some reason ISO 19770-1 refers to a Software Asset Management Plan. Whatever the terminology used, an acknowledged framework to encapsulate all Software Asset Management energies is required.
A Software Asset Management Champion: Any company needs an advocate of Software Asset Management, and preferably someone whose voice carries a weight of authority throughout the organisation. The higher up the chain of command such a person resides, the greater the traction any Software Asset Management program will gain.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Having understood the purpose of a process, anyone involved in carrying out such activities needs to have a crystal clear understanding of how to carry out those instructions; SOPs should ensure that (like the licensing knowledge) no one person becomes a bottle-neck for activity in a company.
This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully it will inspire you to think of other Software Asset Management objects that you may have to call upon to ensure your time and effort in creating and maintaining a Software Asset Management program is adaptable and responsive to the needs of the business well into the future.
April 2023 – Update:
For help creating the objects mentioned above, I’m delighted to announce that after a collaboration with Kylie Fowler of ITAM Intelligence, a new brand has been created in the ITAM space – namely: ITAM Accelerate. Here you will find some 44 ITAM processes (32 SAM, 12 HAM) and one use-case of a Software Vendor Audit Process built into a compendium of quality workflows. Crafted using the ARIS process design methodology and saved in MS Visio, the processes are ideal for any organisation wishing to progress their ITAM maturity. As a sidebar, we are seeing particular interest from organisations who have bought ServiceNow SAMPro, but then discover that the workflows between SAMPro and the ServiceNow CMDB don’t ship with the product.
To read up on how the ITAM Accelerate Process Kit can bolster your Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) head over to the link in this sentence. 45 workflows for less than the price of one day of a SAM consultant’s time! ITAM best-practice as offered in the kit has just saved you at least £45K.