User-Centric Software Asset Management Design

If you have the luxury(!) of being asked to design your Software Asset Management/ITAM Management System, then you might perceive to set about designing a framework that is focussed around the results/reports it is required to produce. This would be no bad thing, not least as at a stroke you are looking to design a management system which would answer the software vendor requirements for which the system will undoubtedly need to support.

However, I’d like to offer an alternative proposal – and one that perhaps might strike a greater chord with our Service Management/CMDB colleagues.  If your Software Asset Management/ITAM solution has been created/pushed together to address audit and reconciliation considerations, then you will have no doubt answered data source issues as basic as inventory cleansing, guaranteeing scope coverage, guaranteeing vendor coverage, sourcing procurement data and addressing whether we transpose procurement data to account for licence data, and whether we can translate contract terms and conditions into product use rights to use the Microsoft vernacular (and the list goes on….)

But let’s say we have the time and space to craft a solution that doesn’t have to answer an audit in a set number of weeks or months?  Could we adopt a different approach?  Could we make the user the heart-beat of the Software Asset Management Management System?  Here’s how it might work….

Take the users/employees of your company and from day 1 consider what they need to complete their duties as an employee from an IT perspective – this list will offer you the Configuration Items that need to be accounted for when crafting your Software Asset Management solution, and also the prioritisation list of software that needs to accounted for and supported.

Clearly this is not a minor undertaking, and could well involve the support of HR to successfully complete; but think of the benefits:

  • A prioritised list of software for audit based on business need – not install
  • Departmental/Cost Centre Models of staff requirements
  • Company-based intel that can be used to configure device builds
  • Who the exceptions are, why they are exceptions and the data to plot paths to address their needs
  • By default, a list of hardware and software that can be considered for recycling/upgrade/disposal
  • If ITIL is important to your organisation, the building blocks for a CMDB could be created from such a survey
  • The data required for the creation of a supported software catalogue
  • Classification of software types, their variances and what they are used for

This is not to say that the former approach or the work undertaken there is irrelevant, but rather if we build the step above into that work, then we have a system that truly answers the business’s IT needs – and not solely the demands of a software vendor-based audit.

Undertaking such an approach could also be an easier pitch to win over senior management than getting bogged down in explanations around CALs, licence types and big bad scary software vendors who need to be kept at arms-length.  You are not just creating a reporting system to address coal-face Software Asset Management needs, rather you are designing and implementing a system of IT control that promotes and supports the business.

 

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