What Does a SAM (Software Asset Management) Manager Do Within the Business?

Welcome to Certero SAM Basics. In this blog, we’ll be discussing the role that a SAM Manager can play within a business and how they can deliver value far beyond managing software license compliance.

Firstly, we can’t talk about the role of a SAM Manager without a recap on what ’SAM’ is and how businesses address this need…

‘Software Asset Management’ or ‘SAM’ is the business practice of managing and optimizing the purchase, deployment, maintenance, utilization, and eventual disposal of software.

These processes must all consider the many nuanced and legally binding terms set out by software vendors, as they will impact on your costs and your ability to leverage the commercial benefits that come with software volume license agreements.

On the flip side, failing to make sure deployed software is correct and within the terms and conditions, will result in ‘non-compliance’. This is a shortage of the licenses you must have to adequately license the precise software you have deployed – regardless of actual usage.

For this reason, SAM is a technically and commercially challenging task, filled with legal and financial risk because if the software is left unmanaged, there are few hard barriers to prevent your costs from becoming rapidly out of control. At the same time, organizations also routinely overspend on software they don’t need, typically by as much as 30%.

Software vendors’ End User License Agreements (EULAs) are where their T&Cs are laid out and this usually includes a right to periodically audit your business. This is how vendors can make sure that customers pay for the software they have deployed.

If the financial governance was not risky enough, you should also consider the cyber security implications of not knowing what software you have deployed across your IT infrastructure.

SAM, therefore, is an essential business process that requires a combination of ‘People Process and Technology’ to effectively control.

So, here’s how this can be achieved and what a SAM Manager can do to complement the business:

They Manage the SAM Plan and Ensure License Compliance

The clue is in the title – number one is that the SAM Manager is responsible for running the SAM Program within the business.

How a SAM plan operates can differ considerably, depending on the size and scope of the business and the maturity of the SAM program.

For example, there are many ways in which a SAM program can operate, using a combination of skilled software licensing subject matter experts in-house or increasingly, the skill sets and resources of external consultants brought in from SAM consultancy service providers.

External SAM Services can also be leveraged in either a temporary or long-term way, depending on your available skills and resources to address licensing challenges. For example, an ‘Effective License Position’ (ELP) service that will help you establish your compliance position with a particular vendor, providing you with knowledge of your risks and overspend, and an ‘Optimization report’ detailing where the risks are and some guidance as to what you can do about it.

Alternatively, to get informed and then stay in control of your licensing costs, then a 12+month SAM Managed Service can provide everything you need. As business never stands still, a Managed Service will help you to measure how risks and costs are being reduced as you work to improve your licensing position.

Managing each major software vendor requires specific expertise and knowledge of that vendor. Therefore, the SAM Manager may be the subject matter expert themselves, or increasingly, they oversee bringing in specialist skills through trusted SAM partners in the form of services.

Regardless of the approach taken, the primary objective for a SAM Manager is to ensure that the organization remains in a state of compliance with its software licensing.

This means that the software deployed across an organization is adequately covered by that organization’s software license entitlement.

Being compliant ensures that the organization is not at risk if (or rather when) they are audited by a software vendor and they are in a safe and advantageous position to negotiate commercial agreements with vendors as software moves through the software asset lifecycle.

At the same time, a SAM Manager will help to avoid wasteful spending on software through over-licensing. On average, 30% of software is entirely unused, so understanding what is used and required will support more efficient procurement.


They Prioritize Risk

There’s a lot of software out there these days. But every business will have a core few vendors that constitute their ‘Tier 1’ software spend. Usually the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Oracle, IBM, and SAP, where the majority of your cost and audit risk resides.

A SAM Manager will understand these costs and know which vendors to work on in which order, considering the potential expense and risk with each. This may be dictated by vendors evoking their right to request a formal audit or contract renewal cycles.

A good SAM Manager will understand the resources at their disposal and will work to ensure that whenever a contract renewal is due, your business is in the best possible shape to negotiate with the vendor and strategically source the software the business really requires; avoiding audit risk and over-spending on unnecessary software.


They Are the SAM Campaigner

As SAM requires robust business processes to stay in control, a SAM Manager needs to be the ever-present voice of reason when it comes to what software the business uses and how it is consumed.

Most businesses have some experience of neglecting to factor in the impact of software licensing into plans and discover the hard way why you can’t simply consume software without an appreciation of how it will be paid for.

Software vendors know this all too well, which is why they can audit you at any time and look out for changes and periods of disruption such as mergers, to engage and make sure you’re paying for what you’re using.

A SAM Manager needs to be ahead of these problems, communicating with senior stakeholders and ensuring that the commercial implications of installing software are understood and controlled at a technical and business level.

SAM Managers will tie together the business needs with efficient procurement.

Software never stands still and so, knowing what an organization needs to buy to serve the business strategy, is the SAM Manager’s job. This then ties in with procurement, who can investigate the market, knowing precisely what is required.


They are Responsible for SAM Tools

One of the longest-running and most complex challenges of Software Asset Management is gaining a fundamental understanding of what’s out there, who’s using it, and who isn’t. This data problem has historically been compounded by businesses not having an IT Asset Discovery and Inventory or SAM solution that provides them with a ‘single source of the truth’ view of their IT infrastructure.

Previously, the bulk of a SAM Manager’s time was spent manually exporting data out of one or several ITAM tools, so that data can be carefully de-duplicated, cleansed, and formatted into a report that represents the reality of what software is out there, as accurately as possible.

This laborious manual process is the reason that many SAM managed services offer a limited output of 3-4 Effective License Position reports per year.

Fortunately, this old approach has now been superseded by solutions like Certero’s Technology-Led SAM Services, which are underpinned by the Certero unified platform solution.

This solves the underlying data problem out of the box, as the solution provides a single source of information on your entire IT infrastructure, and therefore data exports aren’t needed. Instead, SAM can be performed with live information and ELPs are updated and available every day.

A SAM Manager now has far less manual work to do to attain and make sense of hardware and software asset data. This is a great time saver and accelerates the value of SAM programs, which means…


They Are the Oracle of All Understanding (Of Your Business’s Software…)

We’re not talking specifically about the software publisher Oracle, and unlike ancient Greece, the knowledge the Oracle possesses doesn’t come from some divine source, but instead from the robust people, processes, and technology that make the SAM function work.

A SAM Manager needs to have the answers to business questions like “What software do we need to buy?” “What software do we not use?”, or “If we make these changes, how much is the software going to cost”?

SAM makes sure that you know and can predict your software costs. That you can identify all the software you have installed and by extension, where your company data reside or if you have any security vulnerabilities.

SAM means having a strategy and a plan that ensures that investments in software are lean and provide the maximum value to the business.

A SAM Manager, therefore, has this knowledge and needs to be able to articulate, communicate and wield this business intelligence to influence decisions and above all – help to eliminate the costly and disruptive unwelcome surprises that will occur if software is left unmanaged!

A SAM Manager understands the value achieved from software investments; what software enables the business to do and where the critical understanding of ‘what software is out there’ can be used for other purposes by other IT teams. This included Security, who may want to identify any potential vulnerabilities across the IT estate. Or, Support and Service Management teams, who will benefit from having a single source of information on the entire IT infrastructure and knowledge of what discovered software really is.


How to Become a SAM Manager

Like any skills and experience-based role, it can be daunting to know where to begin on your journey to becoming a SAM Manager.

Develop Personal Expertise:

From a personal perspective, there are training courses available to help you learn the ins-and-out of vendors licensing models:

Microsoft Licensing Training

Oracle Database Licensing Concepts

SAP Licensing Process Guide

IBM Training

Certero can provide dedicated Software Asset Management Training to Build and Increase Expertise:

  • Principles of Software Asset Management
  • Principles of IT Asset Management
  • Mergers, Acquisitions and Divestitures Due Diligence
  • Overview of Specific Vendor Licensing such as Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SAP, and Adobe

To find out more, Contact Certero today.

Guide Your Business to SAM Success:

Fortunately, you no longer need to be an expert to guide your business through the minefield of Software licensing – Certero can provide an independent SAM Managed Service that provides all the pieces of the puzzle; Skilled People, Process, and Technology – combined, working as a virtual extension to your business to inform and guide you.

Find out more about the different levels of Certero SAM Managed Services

Certero can also provide training within a SAM service, so you can have a mature SAM program handed over to you once Certero’s team has established control.

Assessing Your SAM Maturity:

An essential step to understanding how effective your SAM program currently is and what you need to improve is undergoing an independent SAM Maturity Assessment.

Additional Resources:

For more helpful Certero blogs from ITAM & SAM experts, visit Certero’s Advice and Guidance or Follow Certero on LinkedIn for updates.

If you’d like help with any IT Hardware, Software, SaaS (Software as a Service), or Cloud Management challenges, Certero can help! Contact Certero today.



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