How To Run a SAM Programme That Delivers Real Business Value

CxO Governance Management

by | December 13, 2021


Ensuring return on investment from a SAM programme continues to be a challenge for IT leaders. How can businesses ensure their SAM spend is providing value, leading to cost savings, better decision making and software licence compliance? More difficult still, when should a business decide to outsource SAM and licensing tasks and what should be maintained by an in-house team or automated using SAM technology?

SAM is the practice of managing and optimising the purchase, deployment, maintenance, utilisation, and disposal of software applications within an organisation. In recent years, the investment made by large and fast-growing organisations into SAM programmes has grown significantly.

An effective SAM programme will protect an organisation from the risk of large and unplanned expenditure in the event of software licensing noncompliance identified during an audit by a software vendor. In short, this is where an organisation is found to be using more software than they have legally paid for, although the complexities run far beyond this. Multi-million-dollar settlement figures in cases of licensing noncompliance are commonplace, and organisations have learned through painful experience that they require a robust SAM programme to insure against this.

A truly effective SAM programme should also be self-financing, both by preventing audit expenditure and by identifying areas for software cost savings. Software licence optimisation is a key aspect of SAM and continues to grow in importance as organisations invest heavily in complex software infrastructure and cloud computing.

Organisations often invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into a SAM tool platform to automate SAM processes. On top of this expenditure, many organisations also supplement this tool investment with either an in-house SAM team, an outsourced SAM managed service or specialist external licensing consultants. Often, the most elaborate SAM programmes will combine elements of all the above to manage the workload and expertise required to operate effectively.

Considering this wide range of options, what are the important factors that should guide decision making for investing in SAM? Organisations who understand where to invest in SAM and how to apply the best resource to each SAM programme requirement will ensure a significant return on their investment.

The first step an organisation should take when planning their SAM investment is to evaluate and understand the complexity, volume and business value of the various SAM activities that will be required. The concept of business value refers to measurable improvement to business outcomes, for example reduction of renewal spend for a software contract. It is important to recognise that many high business value activities are dependent on low business value activities (such as software discovery and recognition).

There are numerous elements that make up a fully-fledged SAM programme. These range from relatively straightforward tasks such as recording software purchases and managing internal software requests through to complex, specialised activities like audit defence or cloud migration licence cost planning. Once an organisation lists each of the separate activities contained within their SAM programme they can begin to be categorised as follows:

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