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Software Asset Management: Don’t be the Fool with a Tool

How many different SAM tools have you come across in your career? Hundreds, I’d bet, if not thousands. You’ve probably had a handful in your current business. Perhaps you even have a few on the go right now. They are as multifarious as performance management processes or room booking systems, and similarly ambiguous to all but a very small group of experts. Demystifying some of the reasons why you’ve ended up a with a certain system is critical for putting in place tools that will serve you in the long run.

One sure-fire way of making sure you have the right system for your business is to choose an established tool. The more mature and widely used the software, the better the outcome. Right?

However, this is unlikely. In these circumstances, I remember one of my favourite sayings is “a fool with a tool is still a fool”.

In order to understand what the right technology is to support you is to understand the services your business needs to achieve the outcomes it wants from Asset Management

These are normally:

  • Don’t overpay for your assets

  • End up with an effective TAM service that suits your business

  • Integrate the correct tools, processes and technology that saves you money in the long run

This is the holy trinity of TAM.

The secret to achieving this is by first taking a big step back. You need to get enough perspective on what you need to see beyond the immediate firefighting, audit or security issue you’re trying to resolve. It’s only by taking a holistic view of your asset management that you can identify exactly what you need, and how you need it to work.

When It Comes To TAM, Knowledge Is Power

Once you’re comfortable with the idea that this revered trinity is not only achievable but necessary, you need to get clear information from your architects in order to make better decisions. If you’re able to ask them the right questions to examine what is and isn’t working, you can start to build a picture of what the business is currently suffering without. If you’ve been promised savings on your current kit of £5 million over the next three years, and actually you haven't seen any of this then it’s time to ask those difficult questions. When an architect extols the virtues of their expensive new tool, think about what you need to ask them in order to get a full understanding of what’s needed.

  • How does this tool help our business?

  • Why are my asset costs going up if this new tool is meant to be saving me 50 per cent of my running costs?

  • Are we using everything we already have effectively?

  • What do the next two years look like?

The big question though is ‘what is lurking beneath the surface?’. If we need an expensive bit of kit to solve an issue, why didn’t we know about the issue beforehand? Why didn’t we see this coming?

It could be that, apparently, you’ve under purchased licenses for software your business relies on and now you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. The business needs licenses and the vendor is demanding expensive solutions in the shape of a SHINY NEW TOOL. Throwing money at the situation may seem appealing but could be foolish. How do you know how many licenses are actually in use without a system that monitors this? Are there hundreds of licenses that are idle or attributed to old hardware or ex-employees? With a system that works, you can identify this, redistribute the licenses and avoid an expensive bill from your vendor. Knowledge is, as I’ve said, power. The power to say no to your architects, if applicable, will avoid unnecessary costs.

Get Your Assets in Order, And the Rest Will Follow

If you start thinking about TAM in the right way it will help you start thinking about other parts of your business in the right way. TAM can be used to better influence process operations by keeping you honest. Quite frankly once you've got your SAM in place and you start to look at your strategy you will find the need for expensive new tools will quickly dissipate. You’ll know what your estate looks like, what’s nearing the end of its life and quickly assess what changes need to be made in advance to meet the ever-fluctuating needs of the business.

The key is not to be pressurised into paying hand over fist for new tools that may or may not solve your problems. Step back, ask the right questions and demand rigorous transparency. You’d be foolish not to.

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