A lot of Software Asset Management projects I have been involved with have had their scope and agenda pre-determined by the demands of a vendor audit, and so the reactive instigation of putting one’s IT house in order has often been a fraught experience.
The better (more enjoyable) Software Asset Management projects have been those in which organisations have adopted a proactive stance in embarking upon a Software Asset Management programme, and so have set about finding short, medium and long-term reasons as to why they should take on this piece of work.
For anyone looking for reasons as to why they should start a Software Asset Management programme (and equally, to persuade senior management that it is a good idea) then they need to go no further than to the concept of governance. If legality and licensing define the “what” or “how” of software use, then governance is the “why” – it could be considered the ethical heartbeat business functionality, and sources of inspiration abound – Information Security, Helpdesk Management, Quality Management, Charitable considerations, Energy efficiency, compliance, environmental concerns, Business Continuity Management, Disaster Recovery – any or all of these elements can shape and form the justification for a Software Asset Management Programme (but note, none of them directly refer to cost savings).
So what are your next steps in instigating a Software Asset Management programme? The fact that you are reading this blog probably means that you have already taken the first step, and that is to decide you need a programme! And the making of this decision is not one that should be under-estimated. If we return to a definition of Software Asset Management as “The blend of people, systems and processes required to effectively manage software and software-related assets through every stage of their lifecycle”, then involving (willing/driven) people is vital to the success of any Software Asset Management programme.
Typically, you won’t be the only member of the IT team, but if we think about the potential scope of a Software Asset Management programme, you will be required to secure the buy-in of senior management because at the end of the day, your Software Asset Management programme could impact as far and as wide as the physical IT infrastructure within your company – and so cultural change might ensue. The higher up you go to receive endorsement for a Software Asset Management Programme, the easier it will be to rise above such resistance.
So what would you put in a 30 minute presentation to the board/senior management to gain buy-in from the top? You might want to mention the operational benefits that result from a Software Asset Management programme, but that will only interest the CIO. You might also wish to raise the topic of re-cycling computers ear-marked for disposal to a charity or good cause; and that might interest a PR Director – but ultimately you need to correlate your primary Software Asset Management drivers to how it benefits the business. Risk mitigation and license compliance, might also be sound arguments, but if you can show how the Software Asset Management Programme will offer greater productivity, greater efficiency or even competitive advantage then you are speaking the language of the board; and if you can focus such advantages to specific examples then so much the better.
I think as IT professionals we lose sight of the fact that IT exists to support the organisation, and so should be sufficiently flexible in its thoughts and deeds to move pro-actively in support of business objectives. A cleverly crafted call for a Software Asset Management Programme will not just be seen as a call for additional funding, but as the IT department taking charge of its estate in support of promoting and growing the business.