If you’ve just begun to dip your toes into software asset management, you may have realized just how consuming of a job it can be. But implementing Proactive SAM measures can help to slow the chaos down and avoid it all together in the future.   Perhaps your software environment was disorganized when you started and now after weeks of struggling, data hunting, and persevering, you’ve reached a state that SAM experts like to call Reactive SAM.  At this stage, you have full visibility into your software architecture. And that really is great news! However, despite how tempting it may be to throw in your SAM towel and call your efforts good enough, there is a reason why, once you’ve reached this stage, it may be beneficial to keep going.  What’s the next step after this? And why would you even bother to continue after you’ve made it this far already?  At MetrixData 360, we have seen many companies who have made it to this stage only to have their motivation and interest dip, and so in this article, we’d like to show you the benefits of pushing forward in reaching your software asset management goals.  

The Problem with Reactive SAM  

When many companies first begin to implement SAM throughout their company, they may be tempted to assume that their job is done after they are finished running or installing their SAM tool, but it isn’t so simple. There are five stages to SAM maturity, of which the Reactive Stage is only the second: 

  • Chaos:
  • Nothing is monitored, there are no SAM processes in place and no SAM tool installed. Unplanned costs due to unbudgeted audits and rampant cloud spending is the norm.  

  • Reactive:
  • At this stage you have a SAM tool and a static view of your software and hardware inventory. Now you can start creating purchasing processes and root out compliance issues.  

  • Compliance Plus:
  • At this stage you’ve reached compliance and now you have greatly reduced your audit risk. At this stage, you’ve also reached proactive SAM. Your next goal will be to automate the SAM process to ensure continual compliance. 

  • Optimized:
  • Now it’s time to start realizing some tangible savings and negotiation authority. At this point you’ll be able to discover cost saving opportunities and scenarios. 

  • Amplified Value:
  • At this stage SAM isn’t just an idea but an integrated part of your company’s culture. Now SAM has a hand in procurement, data center architecture, portfolio management and vendor management. From here you can now project saving scenarios for the future. 
As you can see, while reaching Reactive SAM is an achievement, it is only the first milestone that will allow your company to reach meaningful savings. While many companies chose to halt their SAM process after reaching the Reactive stage, there are limitations in what you can do from this decision:  
  • Your organization will be stuck putting out fires: As the name would suggest, in Reactive SAM, you and your team will spend a lot of time reacting to problems as they arise and you won’t be in a position to effectively alter the root cause of the problem, so the issues are bound to keep happening. 
  • Audits will still catch you off guard: unexpected audits can be quite the slap in the face to your business and at this stage you will be stuck exhausting your resources to address the issues of an audit.
  • You still won’t be able to regulate spending or consumption: Without coordinating the efforts of your procurement and IT departments and without a complete understanding of your software estate, you won’t be able to set a budget that your company can stick to. 

What Does it Mean to Have a Proactive SAM Strategy?  

Being Proactive means that if confronted with a software audit, you will be ready to handle anything that comes your way without expending tremendous amounts of company resources. Although it will take a lot more time and energy to make it through the rest of your company’s SAM Maturity journey, there are tremendous benefits waiting for you along the way.  

Benefits of Proactive Software Asset Management 

  • Reduced Risk: this is the biggest appeal for most companies. When you employ a proactive SAM strategy you are lowering your risks for software audits, compliance issues and unbudgeted software cost. 
  • Cyber Security: cyber criminals will often use old, untracked, and unnoticed software as an entry point into your infrastructure; greater visibility will increase your ability to keep software updated and protected. If you’d like to learn more about how software asset management can help improve your cyber security, you can check out our article: How SAM Can Improve Your Cyber Security
  • Savings and Peace of Mind: Knowing what you have and knowing it is properly licensed will allow you to rest easy at night without having to always be looking over your shoulder, wondering when the next audit-shaped wrecking ball will come swinging towards your company. You will also be able to realize more meaningful savings when you build a proactive SAM portfolio as you take control of your software environment.  

Continuing Your SAM Journey

Now the next question that needs to be addressed is where do you go from here.. How do you get to that next stage in SAM Maturity? Here are a few goals to keep in mind in order to help you reach Proactive SAM:

Get the Stakeholders Involved 

Anyone who will have an influence on your SAM project should be considered a stakeholder, this includes people who are in charge of purchasing your company’s software licenses and people who manage that software. It may be difficult to balance the relationship between these two parties, since the financial side will tend to be motivated by a tight budget and may see SAM as a frivolous luxury.  Meanwhile, the tech side of things might see SAM as something of a deterrent to the effectiveness of their software infrastructure.  It may be a challenge to convince both parties to get on board with SAM, and for that reason, we’ve made a few assets to help you along the way:  

Have a Dedicated SAM Staff 

SAM is not a part-time job, if you want to make it to the Proactive stages, you’ll need someone to own the project. While the needs of every software environment are unique, when searching for your new SAM team you’ll need to take into consideration the number of vendors and the complexity of your software environment. There are a few options to pick from when it comes to hiring a SAM team, you can hire internal resources or outsource the project to a third-party.   If you’d like to learn more about the Pros and Cons of each solution,you can check out our article here!  

Anticipate Roadblocks  

Fortune favors the prepared, as the saying goes, and sadly not everyone in your company is bound to understand the inherent value of software asset management right from the get go. Expect and prepare for such obstacles like:  
  • Given a small budget for SAM 
  • Solution: Start small and find low hanging fruits that can create small savings and quick wins. These small victories will act as proof to encourage upper management to further invest in SAM. 
  • No internal resources and no one with licensing experience 
  • Solution: There’s no need for you to do this all alone, which is why you need to make it a priority for you to get the help you need.  

Keep Calm and Carry on With Your SAM Journey!  

Now that you’ve started on your SAM journey it’s important that you keep on pushing to get more meaningful results. Reaching a stage of SAM Reactive is great but it is not the most stable position and the last thing you want is to let your software environment fall back into a state of chaos and risk.  At MetrixData 360 we have helped companies at every stage of SAM maturity and have helped them reach their own goals quickly and efficiently. If you’d like to learn more about our Software Asset Management as a Service offering, check out our SAM Service Page.

About Mike Austin

Mike AustinMike Austin is the CEO and team lead here at MetrixData 360. Mike brings more than 15 years of Microsoft licensing experience to his clients’ projects. He assists companies with negotiations of Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA), Premier Support Contracts, and Select Agreements, from Fortune 500 to organizations with as few as 500 employees. Mike's vast experience across multiple industries including financial services, high tech, manufacturing, media, health care, government, and retail give him an edge in any business environment. In addition to helping negotiate contracts, he assists clients with creating and implementing software asset management processes to prevent over-purchasing of licenses and ensures terms and conditions reflect actual usage.