If you’re looking to realize all the benefits of an advanced SAM program you’ll need a combination of effective technology (in the form of a tool or tools) and process (in the form of services delivered either by internal or external resource).
The types of service you require will be determined by a number of factors, including your underlying approach to SAM and associated level of maturity. However your ultimate objective should always be the same: value for money delivery of cost savings, compliance, licensing optimization, improved control/management, reduced risk, better productivity and enhanced decision making/planning.
So what are the ten key things you should be looking for when selecting your SAM services provider?
#1 Comprehensive services portfolio
A partner who can only offer a limited range of services can hinder your position. You need a single provider with a comprehensive portfolio, able to cover any eventuality or requirement from Managed Services to point solutions such as Discovery & Inventory, Software Recognition/Normalization, Baselines/ELPs, Licensing Optimization, Vendor Audit Response, SAM Maturity Assessment, Advisory & Due Diligence and Educational Services.
#2 Tailored Managed Services
When it comes to defining an effective SAM strategy, requirements will vary depending on the size, nature and capability of each particular organization. At one end of the spectrum, you may just be starting out on your SAM journey and need a guiding hand to help you through the process. On the other hand, you may have well advanced processes or internal capabilities and simply require access to a more effective tool. When it comes to a Managed Service, you need to be confident of finding the right level of service to match your requirements. A single set approach isn’t appropriate; you need a provider with a range of offerings which can be scaled and tailored as necessary to match your specific circumstances and meet your objectives.
#3 Use highly automated technology to reduce reliance on manual processes
In our experience many SAM service providers are overly reliant on manual processes and/or use tools based on legacy technology. This approach takes longer to deliver results, is open to errors or inaccuracies and requires highly-skilled consultancy resource, the cost of which is passed directly on to you (often with some added margin). Services delivered using the latest, highly-automated, technology will ensure you get value for money and place you in the best position should you ultimately be looking to become self-sufficient.
#4 Flexible delivery/deployment options
Any technology (i.e. tool) element associated with the delivery of SAM services has to be quick and easy to implement, with the necessary flexibility to fit with your particular requirements and align with any existing infrastructure strategy. Ideally this should include a range of flexible deployment options, covering on-prem, cloud, hybrid or appliance. This will ensure alignment with your existing infrastructure strategy, thereby minimizing disruption and optimizing investment.
#5 True multi-tenancy
If you’re planning to implement a SAM Managed Service, you should ensure your provider is able to offer a true multi-tenancy capability, giving you a high quality and consistent user experience. We have come across examples where multi-tenancy results in reduced functionality for end-users, such as restricted access to inventory data.
#6 World-class process and people
Services are delivered via a combination of process and people. When it comes to your SAM services provider, you need to be confident that they apply industry best practice and conform to ISO and ITIL standards. Equally they should have the right people with the necessary skills and time-proven experience. They need to take a consultative approach, working with you to firstly fully understand your challenges, before quickly developing and delivering the most effective solution.
#7 Proven levels of quality & customer satisfaction
Being able to confirm you provider’s customer satisfaction and quality levels is a key indicator of the service you are likely to receive. Check to see if they undertake a regular customer satisfaction survey and have a range of suitable references.
#8 Vendor independence
Many SAM services providers also re-sell software licenses. This presents a potential conflict of interest when it comes to issues of licensing compliance and optimization. On the one hand, as your SAM partner, their objective is to reduce your software expenditure; but on the other hand their driver as a reseller is to sell more software. Similarly, many SAM services providers are employed by the software vendors to undertake audit or baselining activity on their behalf. While there are ways round such issues, such as Chinese walls and confidentiality agreements, ideally you’ll want a fully independent services partner, with no reseller or vendor allegiance.
#9 Global coverage & support
It’s increasingly commonplace for organizations to have international coverage and multiple locations. In such circumstances, having a services provider – with multiple locations and regional staff able to support local requirements – is a distinct advantage and facilitates rapid response times and resolution of technical or service issues.
#10 Support your journey to self-reliance
If your ultimate objective is to become self-sufficient and reduce your reliance on third-party support, then you’ll need a services partner willing and able to help you and provide the necessary knowledge transfer to bring your staff up to speed as quickly and effectively as possible.
In such circumstances – and as highlighted in #3 – it will be essential to do this in conjunction with using a highly-automated SAM tool. Ideally it will be the same tool that your service provider is already using!