Understanding your SAM Maturity Level

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David Graham, Principal Consultant, Certero
Originally posted in June 2016, revised in December 2019.

What is a SAM Maturity Assessment?


A SAM Maturity Assessment provides an organization a simple point in time view of your software asset management (SAM) maturity level. This gives you an independent review and benchmark from which you can progress on your SAM journey. It is usually performed either as a precursor to a full SAM engagement or as a periodic review during a managed service.


SAM maturity levels

Based on the ISO framework and the SAM processes standard, ISO/IEC 19770-1, Microsoft has developed a SAM Optimization Model that has been widely adopted in various forms across the SAM industry.

Although sometimes basic in their approach, iterations of this model provide a set of criteria to make consistent SAM assessments and recommendations. Delivered by a qualified Software Asset Management consultant, a SAM Maturity Assessment can help your organization realize greater value from SAM investments as well as help direct future SAM efforts.

Assessments based on the Microsoft model usually break down SAM maturity into one of four statuses:

  • Basic SAM – a lack of policies, procedures, resources and tools
  • Standardized SAM – information is not complete and accurate
  • Rationalized SAM – reliable information is used to manage assets to business targets
  • Optimized SAM – SAM is a strategic asset to overall business objectives

In reality, most organizations and SAM programs will fall into several of the above categories, depending on exactly what is being assessed. This is why delivery by a skilled SAM consultant is vital and why it is important that the assessment is not performed in isolation but as part of a wider SAM engagement.

This is also why SAM services providers like Certero offer enhanced versions of the SAM Maturity Assessment that are more suitable for larger and more complex organizations. Working closely with key stakeholders, consultants will both benchmark your current program and help you set future goals according to your business priorities and organizational structure.


SAM maturity and scope

Typically a SAM Maturity Assessment will include a series of workshops to understand the scope of your SAM program and your current SAM maturity level. Topics covered would normally include:

  • Overall Management – responsibility, risk management, policies and procedures, competence, awareness and training, performance and continuous improvement, service continuity and availability management
  • Core Software Asset Management – asset identification, asset control and financial management
  • Logistics Processes – requirements definition, design, evaluation, procurement, build, deployment, operation, optimization and retirement
  • Verification and Compliance – verification and audit, license compliance
  • Relationship Process – contract management, supplier management, internal business relations and outsourcing

As a result of the findings of the workshops(s), a summary report is usually prepared that outlines the organization’s SAM maturity level and the steps needed to progress this further.


Need to understand your SAM maturity level?

You might be able to self-assess your own SAM maturity level(s) to a certain degree by following the Microsoft model. In fact, you probably already have a good idea of where you’re doing well and where you need to mature.

The real benefits of having your SAM maturity assessed by an independent third party (especially one with no interest in selling you software licenses), lie in the validation it provides, the resulting plan for how to improve in target areas and the business case for investment that can be created based on the consultant’s experience with other organizations.

Ultimately it’s important to select the kind of assessment – whether self-directed or managed independently – that’s right for your organization, it’s size, structure and aspirations. For a no-nonsense view on what type of SAM Maturity Assessment is right for you, why not have a no-obligation chat with a qualified Certero SAM consultant?

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