ITSM thoughts from the world of Software Asset Management

Pondering the worlds of ITSM and SAM
Pondering the worlds of ITSM and SAM

Do you ever stop to think about the higher business goals that ITSM seeks to achieve? Or perhaps the boundaries between ITSM and ITAM? I was recently at the SITS14 event at Earls Court, and it was fascinating to hear so many tool vendors state that they did “asset management”. However, when I asked them where they loaded the contracts and purchase orders into their system(s) the tumbleweed was rampant – aka they couldn’t give me an answer!

Of course, what these vendors are actually referring to when they use the term “asset management” is “inventory management”. This is just as vital in the SAM world, however, in SAM we need to compare inventory data against “Proof of Entitlement” i.e. the evidence to say that a company has the right to use the installed software – typically, contract and procurement data.  The status of a software asset depends upon supporting data other than whether it is installed or not.

Where SAM falls down…

High-end SAM is targeted with providing intelligence around software consumption to aid in any business decisions that could shape future contracts and purchases in relation to software (and more recently) hardware. Software Vendors are also increasingly calling upon hardware specifications to calculate the consumption of software licenses.

However, SAM suffers from something of an image crisis – it is rarely considered a business as usual (BAU) activity, and seems to spring up at the behest of a Software Vendor Audit.  Best practice would have us believe that the creation of a SAM framework ties in seamlessly with the rest of IT, as well as with the rest of the business (many elements of data required to support a SAM framework lie with HR (named user licenses), the Contracts Department (concerning Software Contract metrics) and Procurement/Finance (to account for the installs made under the aforementioned contracts)).

Working from this foundation of low-business self-esteem, forging in-roads into well-established strongholds such as Contracts and Finance, can prove to be more exacting than determining what software is installed and how to calculate license consumption.

Falling between the cracks…

The reason I mention all of this is because I have found in too many organisations Contract and Finance personnel rarely (if ever) consult with IT to understand the nuances of licensing. They might appear to have struck a great deal on a software contract, but will have patently failed to consider the technological roll-out clauses that could add significant costs to a business at the point of a periodic review.

Another aspect that often gets overlooked is that of Support and Maintenance, and this was what got me wanting to reach out to the ITSM community.

Does your SAM function ask for your help?

Do you generate support reports based on the software vendor and the software title demonstrating the number of tickets raised, as well as the complexity of those support calls? And how many of these support calls are ever escalated to a software vendor?

Such data could prove invaluable to anyone negotiating whether or not a company decides to place titles under vendor-based support and maintenance in the future. Why? Well, vendor-based support can add anything in the region of 20-25% to the cost of a software contract.

In summary, I suppose I am reaching out to the ITSM community to say “can you help?” I have not seen a single SAM suite that has a dedicated option for the recording of vendor-based support against devices, software titles (or unique installations thereof) or individuals.  I can only imagine this kind of data would be readily available in a service desk tool worth its salt – or am I being overly optimistic?

Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Is this issue on the ITSM radar? I would welcome feedback/comments on the above. 

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