“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
The Anna Karenina Principle, as it has become known from the first line of Leo Tolstoy’s seminal 19th-century novel, is as applicable to IT Asset Management (ITAM) programs today as it is to families. Adapted from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics written 23 centuries earlier, this principle holds that successful endeavors succeed because they lack deficiencies in key areas. In Aristotelian terms,
“It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way…to miss the mark easy, to hit it difficult…For [ITAM programs] are good in but one way, but bad in many.”
So, what are the key areas in which ITAM programs must not be deficient in order to be successful? Or rather, what are the primary reasons why ITAM programs fail? In working with hundreds of organizations big & small, public & private, across the gamut of industries and the globe for over a decade, I have found that in ALL CASES, ITAM programs that fail are deficient in at least 1 of the following ways:
1) Software Asset Management Programs Fail Because of Inadequate Governance
Let me say this in no uncertain terms: the ITAM program director that neglects the hard work of gaining and maintaining necessary support from leadership will ultimately fail. Period. The term “governance” can come to take on very different meanings within various organizations, so let’s define it here relative to ITAM.
ITAM program governance is all of the sponsorship and informed decision-making, action, & accountability from executive stakeholders necessary for a chartered ITAM program to accomplish its stated and approved objectives.
When ITAM programs undertake a grassroots-only effort without such governance, inevitable roadblocks surface that inhibit progress and require proper escalation to and action from program sponsors.
Consider the amount of coordination and cooperation that is necessary to remediate server infrastructure, drive accountability to application owners, enforce policy compliance, re-engineer processes, address process leakage, etc. Without the right support from the right level of leadership, the ITAM program’s ability to affect change and accomplish tangible results is greatly diminished. This lack of governance shortens the ITAM program’s effective life. Similarly, leaders that fail to play an active role in governing the ITAM program they sponsor will never have the consistent, productive results they seek. We can sum up this failure like this:
ITAM programs can only affect lasting, positive change to the degree those changes are effectively sponsored by informed leaders.
In trying to help organizations put the necessary structure, communication, and habits in place that enable good ITAM program governance, I’ve been told a lot of things from naysayers—”we don’t do that here”, or “governance is a dirty word at our company”, or “we don’t need this right now, we just need to get going with a tool”…and on, and on. Thankfully, after some reasoned discussion, most practitioners come to see early on, the necessity of good governance to their long-term success. However, acknowledging the need for good governance is very different from actually accomplishing and operating within good governance. The latter takes real and consistent effort from a competent program director that can effectively communicate and “manage up” with their executive leadership.
Establishing effective program governance can be significantly complicated when dealing with executive sponsors that lack the ability or motivation to govern well, which are usually symptoms of broader systemic issues with organizational dysfunction. Whatever the reason, most ITAM programs struggle in this area of governance at one point or another, which, if misgoverned long enough, will eventually result in a program becoming severely under-funded, and dying a slow and painful death.
2) Software Asset Management Programs Fail Because of Unclear or Unrealistic Goals and Objectives
A particularly painful software compliance audit is commonly what gives impetus to forming an ITAM program. It’s an all-too-familiar scenario: an executive who was made to feel much of that pain (i.e., the audit settlement came out of their budget), throws up their hands in frustration that they don’t have the data they need, taps a capable manager, and gives them budget and a directive to put a tool in place by a certain date, and a charge to prove that the tool is saving them money.
This scenario, however, is problematic as it typically misaligns the program right from the start. For example, the problem of managing IT assets is framed by leadership as a data issue, with the “solution” being thought of as simply implementing a tool. What’s more, the knee-jerk reaction to the painful audit, combined with the chronic myopia of budget cycles, often puts the tool implementation project on an overly-aggressive timeline. And to make matters worse, our unsuspecting manager, as capable they may be, typically lacks knowledge and experience with the intricacies of software licensing and has little idea of just how unrealistic the task is that they’ve been handed.
I’ve probably seen it a hundred different times. Without time or budget to properly gather and rationalize requirements, the program rushes blindly down a tooling RFP spiral with the manager’s head buried in sandy denial, insisting to their executive they are making good progress towards an unrealistic goal. Fast forward 2-3 years, however, and the manager is burnt out, having spent their reputation (and millions of dollars) on a tool that produces data many stakeholders find unreliable, with the auditors finding essentially the same compliance issues, despite the rash of costly activity.
3) Software Asset Management Programs Fail Because of Overdependence on a Tool
Closely related to unclear and unrealistic goals and objectives is the tendency to look to an ITAM tool as a panacea. You see this manifested in the absurd naiveté of some “must-have” requirements in tooling RFPs, such as (these are actual written requirements I have encountered): “System must be able to auto-discover cloud computing environments”, “The ITAM tool must automatically reconcile licenses according to specific contracts”, and “The solution must perform continuous license reconciliation in real-time”. Sure, we all want a solution that will automagically find rogue Azure tenants, read our contracts, and (my personal favorite) reconcile all data in real time. We also all want no-calorie ice cream, limitless energy from cold fusion, and to be the only one that can bend the space-time continuum with a Time-Turner. However, ITAM managers (and their executive sponsors) must responsibly ground their expectations in reality. The ITAM manager that doesn’t understand what a given tool really does and really does not do, must educate themself by consulting with someone that does. Indeed, a fool with a tool is still a fool. And there’s simply no need to be a fool.
An ITAM tool alone can never fix all your process and people problems. Even as difficult as implementing an ITAM tool can be, the organizational change management required to implement policies, re-engineer processes, and win individual hearts and minds to change culturally-engrained habits and modes of thinking, is often much more difficult to accomplish. But this difficulty in no way negates its necessity. And putting it off until you have a fully functioning tool that meets all the well-meaning, but unfounded “requirements”, places the ITAM program on an unstable foundation that will eventually give way if not addressed appropriately.
As with a family, for an ITAM program to have sustained success, you have to get the fundamentals right. The ITAM program must not be deficient in the core areas of governance (as defined herein), the proper calibration of goals and objectives, and having realistic expectations about the jobs that ITAM tools are expected to perform. Take the time to reflect on your ITAM program through these lenses, identify any corrective action that you should take, and then go and do it. Your program, and you as an informed and conscientious practitioner, will be better for it.
Kris Johnson is Anglepoint’s resident expert on all things ITAM. As a reformed software license compliance auditor, Kris’s passion for the last 10+ years has been helping organizations put the people, processes, and technologies in place to prevent the problems that auditors typically find, while driving cost optimization and operational efficiency within successful ITAM programs.
Alex Benson: All right, we are going to get started. Welcome everyone. I’m Alex Benson and I’ll be your host for today. We just want to thank you for joining us for our YFAM Programs FAIL webinar. Before we get started, we want to let you know that the webinar is being recorded and will be sent out to you in a follow up email.
We also want to encourage participation, so feel free to ask questions throughout the webinar and we will answer those through the Q&A box at the bottom of your Zoom panel or live during the Q&A portion of the webinar. That is it from me. And now, without further ado, we will turn the time over to the presenters.
Kris Johnson: Thanks, Alex. This is Kris Johnson, Executive Vice President with Anglepoint. And with me today is Chris Nielsen, a Director in our Key Accounts Managed Services Practice. I think most of you know who Anglepoint is, but for those that may be newer to Anglepoint, we specialize in Managed services to the Fortune Global 1000 in terms of their IT asset management.
We also provide point in time services for driving program strategy, tool selection and implementation and so forth. Our practice areas as you can see here, run the gamut of IT asset management services from program setup to training IT security and so forth. That’s enough about us.
Let’s get on to why SAM programs fail. And then we’ll talk about how a managed service provider can help fix some of those problems. And then hopefully we can have a robust and healthy question and answer period where we can hear from you. So, the first reason programs fail and this is from my perspective, having helped hundreds of organizations through their ITAM journey and these are organizations, both public and private large and small global and local across the gamut of industries, and, Without adequate governance, an ITAM program is simply doomed to fail.
The term governance sometimes can take on interesting meanings within certain organizations. Sometimes it’s a bit of a dirty word. Sometimes it means slightly different things. I’d like to define it here so that we can all get aligned on the same page. I’m defining it here as it’s the sponsorship and informed decision-making action and accountability from executive stakeholders that’s necessary for an ITAM program that body govern or charters to accomplish its stated and approved objectives.
So, it’s program sponsorship. Yes, but it’s also the leadership. It’s the informed decision making and it’s not without action and driving accountability. Governance really is that is that it’s the sponsorship. It’s leadership, but it’s the accountability and the action by those leaders to affect change within their parts of the organization.
Governance members, they represent not only the department or business unit that they come from, but they also represent the needs of the global organization as well. So, let’s talk about why inadequate governance dooms a program to failure. If your efforts to affect change and affect behavior as it relates to the disposition, the management of IT assets those grassroots efforts are going to come up against Some opposition when it comes to things like, hey, we’ve identified that we’ve got a cost optimization and cost savings opportunity or hey, we’ve got a compliance issue with regard to some software products.
There’s action that needs to be taken, and usually that action is not necessarily easy to accomplish. Sometimes it requires people to do things. Sometimes it requires resource allocations. If you’ve got an outsourced IT provider, it may require some budget to be allocated so that a VM can be moved to a different cluster, for example, or that an upgrade can be performed across a number of servers for an aging application or so forth and so forth.
And if it’s always from the bottom up saying, hey, we need your department. We need your infrastructure group to make these changes incur this cost. You can imagine the and you’ve probably experienced for those that are practitioners on the call the opposition and the consternation that can create.
So, you need that. That air cover that the ITAM organization needs to be able to point to their governance body there. Let’s say a steering committee to show the level of commitment that the organization is making in is making in order to make these types of changes. So, you need both grassroots and a top-down approach to make sure that the right level of influence is going to be applied on those parts of the organization that need to make those changes for in this example remediation efforts.
Another facet of this is that oftentimes there’s a leadership committee or there’s a steering committee even, but it’s not effective sponsorship because it’s not necessarily at the right level. The right level of governance, it needs to be high enough. In the hierarchy of the organization that the person representing their department doesn’t need to go ask permission from anyone to affect change, but it needs to be low enough within the organization that they can actually dedicate the time necessary to be an effective escalation point.
And sometimes that’s a challenge to accomplish it requires educating those steering committee members of those executive sponsors on what the role is that they play and what is expected of them from an accountability standpoint and from an action standpoint and then relentlessly following up.
Another facet of inadequate governance here is that decision makers are not appropriately informed or engaged. Sometimes it’s because they’re not at the right level, but oftentimes it’s because maybe they have overly simplistic view of IT asset management. They think that this is purely a data problem.
Let’s fix this data problem with a tool and may not be privy to some of the realities of the nuances of software asset management, software licensing, for example, that make it vexingly complex. And it, it behooves the program director to inform and educate the steering committee members governance committee members so that they can make informed decisions to help them understand the impact of the decisions that they’re being asked to make as well as the, having the full context of why these decisions are important.
And this is often where, because this is particularly difficult, and it requires a ITAM program director to really put themselves out there and develop relationships with their steering committee members in a trusted way it’s often neglected. But the challenge or the difficulty of the task certainly doesn’t negate its necessity.
That leads us to this next point that it’s often that leadership members in a governance body like this are not necessarily held accountable. Some governance bodies at some organizations it’s a bit more of an informed role. They might make some decisions on like budgeting, for example. But an effective and adequate governance body for ITS and management needs to be able to take escalations, needs to be able to affect change and drive action within their respective Parts of the business and the ITAM program director needs to be able to use their influence and that’s influence that isn’t necessarily helped by having authority over those people.
So there has to be a natural level of influence that’s applied by helping them understand what the natural consequences of inaction are. And that is a skill in itself from a management standpoint, being able to manage up. To your steering committee members but if you don’t hold those steering committee members accountable you will not have the governance that that you need to ultimately be successful.
That leads me to this maxim that ITAM programs can only affect lasting positive change to the degree those changes are effectively sponsored by informed leaders. You could say that you could swap that out with, any initiative within a business or an organization.
If it’s a grassroots effort only, it’s a limited lifespan or limited effect. But if it’s championed by true leaders, and they sponsor those changes, then Those changes can be lasting and positive that brings us to the conclusion of the program failure. Number one, inadequate governance again.
Can’t say it enough. Anytime you see a faltering program that’s not funded adequately, not given the proper resources has the wrong. Focus has scope creep, et cetera, et cetera. It’s because of inadequate governance and it’s not necessarily just because of the leadership members themselves in the governance committee.
It’s also the role of the program director in managing up and helping those leadership team members be informed so that they can make educated decisions and being held accountable. Let’s move on to program failure number two very much related to what we were talking about. These all kind of build on each other, but unclear and unrealistic objectives.
So, another maxim here. It’s been said that end user satisfaction or customer satisfaction is a function of expectation management. The same is certainly true of executive sponsors and executive sponsor satisfaction is a function of expectation management. Again, this falls on the shoulders of the ITAM program director to educate those executive sponsors, help them to be able to make the informed decisions that are required of them and to manage those expectations appropriately.
What can often happen is that the program, it’s not abundantly clear what the reason for being really is. Yes, there’s we want to save money. Yes, we want to be able to manage our licensing. But… Depending on who you talk to, either from an executive stakeholder standpoint, or executive sponsor standpoint, or extended team members, or extended stakeholders, they might all have a slightly different agenda or reason for why they want the program to exist.
Without that clarity and alignment, it, it’s setting the program up for missed expectations by at least some of those people. The way to guard against this is to get utterly clear on what the program charter is what the steering committee is chartering the program to accomplish.
And if you can’t say it in 20 words or less you probably don’t have the focus that you need to. Another facet of this is that scoping decisions aren’t data driven. For example, publisher prioritization. It’s known that you can’t focus on all of your software publishers all, all at once, all at the same time with the same level of focus.
So, you have to prioritize. Which ones do you prioritize? Oftentimes this is made in a gut feel or, based on what we. What we did with them last year or who’s causing the most pain at the most at a certain point in time, but it’s good to be able to make these scoping decisions based on actual data that quantifies your risk quantifies your spend other areas of prioritization so that this isn’t just up to the whim of someone that a stakeholder perhaps in procurement wants to make a change at the last minute or thinks that the program is working on something that isn’t in their scope.
And again, there’s missed expectations and therefore not good satisfaction. Another facet of this or a component of this is oftentimes stakeholders will have a myopic view on just one thing. Very common, that’s on cost savings. It’s A very common scenario that a program all of a sudden gets budget coming off the heels of a very painful and expensive software compliance audit and an executive kind of throws up their hands.
We’re not going to give XYZ publisher this amount of money again. We’re not going to go through this pain. Let’s get a tool in place. Let’s get a program in place. And let’s drive our costs down, etc. Sometimes that single lens can help provide focus, but sometimes it’s too much in looking into one area.
You want to be careful to set the proper expectations that yes, while a successful program will save costs, that the ability to save costs over time will diminish at the Better you get at managing software assets. So yes, if your environment’s gone unmanaged for an extended period of time, you should be able to get some quick wins in year one year two, but that will taper off over time.
And it’s very important to set that expectation right up front with your executive leadership so that there’s not over focus on cost savings and, being held to an unrealistic expectation year over year. I might also add that this myopic view of cost savings also relates to only being focused on cost reduction and not caring as much about cost avoidance.
I always like to tell folks, particularly in finance as often where it comes from, that when they’re counting the successfulness of the program from a KPI standpoint, they’re only looking at cost takeout. So, while we can we can ignore the cost avoidance measures, right?
The remediation that we’re doing, that if you were to get audited today, you’d have these problems on your hands. We can stop doing that so that it becomes a cost in an audit, and then we can… Save it for you later, right? If that’s what you’d really like, it usually puts them on the back foot and puts in the proper perspective.
The cost avoidance, while maybe not as sexy as cost takeout, is certainly an important component to the value of a program that needs to be understood and certainly acknowledged by executive stakeholders. So again, managing those expectations becomes extremely important as relates to cost savings and cost avoidance.
Further component here of an unrealistic or unclear objective is policy development and implementation are undervalued. I’m sure we’ll talk about this here. Later on, the Chris Nielsen’s comments, but it’s so easy to get run out and buy a tool. It’s so difficult to do the hard work of policy development and policy implementation, which is very closely related to process reengineering and putting controls in place.
You want to make sure that you’re setting the right objectives with, for the program to put some of these foundational pieces in place. You can’t change all your policies and all your processes at once, but you should be able to have a roadmap of where you’re prioritizing and why, and not neglecting that foundational work.
Otherwise, your program is going to be built on a very shaky foundation, which often crumbles under, underneath someone that neglects that. And then finally process optimization is neglected, very closely related to policy development since processes should have a policy to underpin them, but it’s very difficult to re-engineer processes, especially because there’s a human element where you have to change individual hearts and minds in a process.
Organizational change management process that you have to take an organization through to be able to change processes that affect everyone. And again, the difficulty of the task does not negate the necessity. And then this kind of leads into our next program failure or final program failure that we’ll cover today, which is that the role of tools gets overemphasized.
Again, oftentimes executives have a overly simplistic view of what IT asset management entails and how to fix this quote unquote data problem that they see that they have. And this can manifest itself in a number of ways. Sometimes a tool is seen as a tool is going to fix all of our problems, even if it’s implicitly talked about, or it’s just implied that we don’t need to focus on.
Process and policies, we just need to get the tool in place and get data flowing and then we’ll just have this magic view of what we need to do. Sometimes tools and being able to measure and count just provides a spotlight on, the holes in the boat that are springing water, right?
So instead of bailing out the water out of the canoe every time, it’s good to focus on the processes and policies underpinning that are causing the problems in the first place. It’s very important to have realistic objectives and a realistic expectation of what your tool is actually going to accomplish for you and what it’s not, which leads us to our third program failure.
And the final one that we’ll talk about today, which is over dependence on a tool. Here’s another maxim. A fool is a fool with a tool is still a fool. And I might add to that there’s simply no need to be a fool. There are plenty of resources out there that Chris Nelson will be talking a little bit about that can help you get the education that you need, the understanding that you need to be able to use a tool wisely for its intended purpose.
So over dependence on a tool this is prevalent and so commonplace that organizations that recognize that they need some, technical capability to discover an inventory their assets to help them with a reposing their entitlement and is in a centralized system and licensed consumption analysis.
There are many different functionalities of what a tool or combination of tools can do for you. But it’s so difficult in ITAM space to get good information about what these tools actually do. And I can tell you you’re not going to get good information from marketing information and from salespeople that actually don’t understand how their tools work.
They only know them sufficient to sell them. So, there’s a, it’s a difficult to get past those layers and have a deep technical understanding, not of just what the tool does or supposed to do, but what it does not do. If you don’t know what the tool doesn’t do, then you fundamentally, don’t really understand what it actually does.
And related to this is of what it does do, how does it do it when it comes to things like discovery technologies and discovery techniques and inventory protocols that are used. If you don’t understand those technical details, you’ve been how it’s doing what it’s doing, you really don’t understand what it actually does.
So very important to understand very difficult to gain that understanding. You know if. If you’re at the outside looking in trying to find this information from the tool vendors themselves. Related to this is a blind belief in some magical properties that the tool might have.
So, take things like license consumption analysis. Oftentimes, a tool vendor, a salesperson, again, they only know the tool well enough to sell it which let’s not fault them too hard. It’s very difficult to gain an understanding of these things. So, they do their level best, I think, but it’s still a challenge for everyone.
As far as that goes, they’ve been told that hey, our tool does we can handle Oracle. Yes, we can count Oracle. When you really peel back the layers though you find that. That statement is true in some very limited scenarios. When people say the word Oracle, a lot of times they are thinking database Oracle has a few hundred different applications that are not database that that tool may or may not do much with or for its and how a tool does license consumption analysis for even something like Oracle databases, our example.
There can be this blind belief that, oh, okay, it just works. And, yeah, we come from, come we have an expectation that products that we buy, can do what they’re purported to as doing, but the devil is in the details.
And if you don’t know those details, sometimes there’s just this accepting on blind faith that, oh, it must do this. It must do that because they say it does that. And many of the tool vendors make the same claims. So don’t fall into this trap of just if you don’t understand it and how it works, then you can’t really trust that it actually does work is the sad reality.
Related to this is an irrational confidence in tools capabilities to accurately determine license consumption. It’s an example of this blind belief of a magical property. This is really where rubber hits the road for a. Software asset management tool in particular we want tools that will be able to tell us How many licenses we’re consuming so that we can compare that to our entitlement so we can know what Our position is our license our effective license position is but this step is so Meaningly complex to determine license consumption in a world where we have hundreds and hundreds of different license metrics, hundreds of different technical markers for those license metrics that need to be identified or discovered.
Different tools do them differently. Different types of signature methodologies across different tools, and there’s some applications out there, some products that there are no technical markers for, and it’s an inherently manual process to determine license consumption. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that oh, my, my Sam tool is going to accurately determine license consumption for all the products that I care about.
You’ve got to get really particular and detailed about what the use cases are that you really care about so that you can match up the capabilities of tools in the marketplace to those must have priorities. Another area of this over dependence on a tool is an unrealistic expectation of a tool’s ability to put that in quotes with procurement systems and automatically determine license entitlement. Yeah, this is, we all want this, right?
We all want, unlimited energy from cold fusion too, but it doesn’t exist in a lot and it, there, there can be integrations with procurement systems, but to the degree that you’re wanting it to automatically just accurately determine what your license entitlement is really a pipe dream. Now it can occur in some limited instances, in some limited cases, in some, limited use cases, the simplest ones, but across the board, you’re usually going to be very disappointed after a lengthy implementation.
So go in with eyes wide open and set the proper expectations with your steering committee members and with your stakeholders that there’s not, there’s going to be going to need to be some manual intervention. And there’s going to need to be some folks that actually look at what’s being put in a system from an entitlement standpoint.
You can get transactions in there, you can get purchase history, but oftentimes you’re, Your PO system that’s putting line-item details in there lacks the publisher SKUs or part numbers that are the primary key for any SAM tools library to match it up with. And without that primary key, you’re not going to get very far at all.
Don’t heap on your aspirations for what you want onto a tool that you’ll be sadly disappointed. And again, this is no knock against the tools that are out there, this is just the nature of the beast of the industry that we live in. We just need everyone to be more educated and more acknowledging of what those realities are.
And finally, here to round out this program failure on over dependence on a tool, is implicitly assuming that a tool will compensate for deficiencies in policies, processes, and people. We talked a little bit about this before about unclear objectives, but a tool is no panacea for, all of your organization’s problems.
Yes, it can help you count, yes, it can help you get data to be able to shine lights on where you’ve got deficiencies. But don’t stop there and don’t set the false expectation or allow your executive leadership to have the false expectation as, as often is, as is often the case that we don’t need to worry as much about.
Our server deployment process or our request and approval process, and maybe we’ve got multiple different entry points for how software can enter the organization and that’s okay. Yeah, that may be okay, but it’s not necessarily efficient and it’s very difficult to control how software comes in the front door is probably one of the most important areas of the software asset lifecycle to control and to manage. Again, don’t fall into this trap of thinking that a tool is going to make everything easy for you. That that concludes our program failures. So just to go over those inadequate governance.
We talked about unclear and unrealistic objectives and over dependence on a tool. So, let’s maybe transition now to Chris Nielsen. Chris Nielsen is a very experienced practitioner as well as a consultant delivering managed services to large complex organizations. And he’s here to talk about the three ways general ways that a managed service provider can help fix some of these deficiencies.
Chris Nielsen: Thank you, Chris. We got another Chris here. Yeah, so really appreciate everything you’ve said so far, Chris, on the, on how the pitfalls of a SAM program. So now we’re going to switch gears and talk about how we can combat those failures and turn them into successes. And that is through the potential use of a managed service provider.
To help your SAM program mature and progress and so from now I’ll be Referring it to as an MSP. And so that is a managed service provider and that is someone who understands software and hardware asset management. They do this on a full-time basis. They know all the publishers They know the programs and procedures.
They have the experience. So now we’re going to go through some of the reasons and why It could be a benefit to your organization. All right, let’s see here Kris if I can advance the slides Oops, let’s go back there. There we go. There we go So at first, they can help you create a culture of trustworthy data.
Now, what does that mean? So, in many organizations There are disparate sources of data. You have your workstation data your SCCM data your server data your ad data Maybe your database data and you are tasked with as a SAM Manager or SAM practitioner trying to marry that all together and make it into something awesome making into something that is a knowledgeable actionable data that you can make business decisions on and I have seen so many times Where companies go in and they’ve you know been tasked with creating a SAM program And their own management their own executives do not know What they do and that is a bad spot to be in And something that MSP can help you with is define what those what your What you should be about and part of that is through managing large amounts of data and then getting useful information out of it as Peter Drucker, the management executive or management gurus back in the day would say, what gets measured gets managed.
And I firmly believe that. So, if you don’t know what your data shows, you can’t manage it. And so, And MSP can help you manage all of that data that’s floating around in your company and turn it into actionable intelligence. We sometimes call it an information service, like shining a light, a flashlight around all the dark corners of your organization, not to uncover secrets, but to uncover things that nobody knows about to help you manage these assets.
Software assets are unique in the fact that you can’t touch or feel them, but they’re very expensive and you have to track them. And creating a culture of trustworthy data is something that is important so that you have an authoritative source of data that can drive actionable intelligence from.
Next, an MSP can also help you mitigate and eliminate audit risk. I remember how many times have you been in a Microsoft audit or an Oracle audit or maybe say a micro focus audit? And it’s your first audit. You have no idea what’s happening, and you have been asked to deal with this and we see this Often an MSP, what they could do is they’ve been through many audits, scores, hundreds.
They know exactly what the publishers are up to. They know what their tricks and tactics are, and they know how to combat them. And so, they can help you minimize those risks, those findings to make it thank you. Make it happy at the end of the day, hopefully. And so those, they’ve been through those, they know exactly how to respond to these publishers.
They know exactly the kinds of products, the kinds of mistakes they are hoping that you make, and an MSP could be an invaluable resource to guide you through that process and navigate those troubling waters to get an audit.
And then lastly, they can also provide significant negotiation support, whether it be in a renewal with an ELA or a renewal at a Microsoft renewal. They have seen because they work on all kinds of companies and have seen all kinds of experiences and MSP can show you what a publisher is incentivized to do at this point in time.
And so, they can help you negotiate and probably get better deals better Ts and Cs, better use rights. based on their experience so that you can, improve your situation at your organization.
So, expertise where it matters most and this is I think, probably the biggest example I wanted to show today. I’ve been with when you’re in a SAM program, it’s hard to get internal people that are experts because they haven’t done it before. How many times have you had someone maybe transfer over from internal audit or from another organization with an IT and they, You know take a certification or they go to a conference and then they’re supposed to be the expert and that’s a very difficult spot to be in and where an MSP can help you is that they can Help you determine the best strategy and plan for success We can an MSP can help you drive the correct deliverables so that you can communicate better To your executive leadership exactly what you’re about what your purpose is like Kris said earlier many executives have a very short sighted view of what SAM and HAM and ITAM is and through An MSP’s experience and expertise you can use that to help funnel down exactly what your charter should be, what exactly your mission should be, so that you’re not responsible for boiling the ocean, but instead can focus on what matters most.
Maybe it’s just a handful of your material publishers. Maybe it’s just a subsection of your organization to start with. And that’s where you can see the biggest bang for your buck and really drive whether it’s cost savings or cost avoidance or other KPIs that really can show a difference to your executive leadership and then drive SAM maturity through that.
And so, an MSP has that experience. They have the deliverables. They know exactly what the communication structure should be with the CIO or other executives to make sure that they understand how software asset management can be a benefit as overall to the organization. Now I wanted to talk about experience again, we’ve touched on this but how many audits have you gone through?
You know in your own organization, maybe it’s a couple but with an MSP they’ve gone through hundreds. They know exactly what these are about they know it’s second nature for them. And also, they know what to expect. And so, using an MSP in your back pocket can be the equalizer as you deal with these publishers or these negotiations with these large publishers to make sure that you’re Getting the best experience and getting the best bang for your buck as you navigate those audits and then lastly, they are true experts.
They should be true experts in all things licensing. So, whether it’s some obscure engineering product or an SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, you name it, they should be able to parachute a resource in to help you and guide you through whatever you’re dealing with to make sure that you’re getting the best service and the best.
Expertise so that you don’t make any mistakes with your licensing and that you can optimize your consumption or your entitlement to make sure that you’re not overpaying or overusing your assets.
And then the third benefit Of an MSP that I want to talk about today was that I’m going to talk about tools Kris also talked about tools as well but Where a, where an MSP can help is they know exactly how these tools work. They and they know exactly how they don’t work, like Chris said, and so they should be tool agnostic, meaning that they can use any tool.
They probably have their favorite tools that they like, but they can get the maximum benefit out of any given tool because of their experience. And so, they can, with that, they can also keep them Up and running. Much of what a tool has that the problems that we see with tools is that it’s not so much that the tool’s not running right, it’s the data going into them and the data coming out.
And it’s very difficult for an IT administrator who’s not very well versed in SAM or HAM or ITAM to be able to know if the data going in or out is bad or incorrect. You must have a SAM expert. to be able to test and validate that data on a regular basis to know if what is going in and what is being processed and what is coming out is accurate.
And so, an MSP can help do all the reconciliation, all the normalization of all the different inputs and outputs of those. Of those of the data to make sure that you’re getting the best won’t be perfect because as Kris said there’s no perfect tool, but it’ll help you get the best data that you can with the investment you’ve made on that tool.
I will say also that as you’ve invested in this tool it’s often better to bring an MSP in my opinion Before you buy the tool so they can help you go through the process of picking the correct tool for your organization but if you haven’t Brought them and you bring them in afterwards after you bought this tool and you realize that it doesn’t do exactly what you thought it would they can help you maximize that and you know make sure That the tool is getting the best bang for your buck and Above and beyond that getting reports getting the data out that can turn into actionable data Or actionable intelligence that can make sound business decisions.
I call it the so what so if you’ve you have all this data and you’ve got a compliance report your executives your stakeholders Probably aren’t going to care what that says instead you want to translate it to into their language so they can understand What that means for the company or how that has helped the organization?
With the data in these tools and so that can be done with an MSP being able to help be the glue to connect all those pieces as you go on your SAM journey and overall, it’s a great way by employing an MSP to build a partnership and to go on a journey together as you go down the path of San Maturity.
They’ve seen it, they had the experience, they know what has happened to other companies, they can help you avoid that. And yeah, so just to go over again those three benefits it’s really first understanding That let me go back here that they can demonstrate excellence and so and obviously can help your team help your SAM program communicate your effectiveness to other stakeholders and to your executives as well as publishers, right?
So, publishers know that you have an MSP working with you they’re probably Less likely, to peek under the covers. They’re probably more likely to work with you They understand that you take ITAM seriously And then the second benefit is that they’re experts as we’ve talked about they know the ins and outs of licensing they know the ins and outs of entitlement and the rules of how software can be used and then lastly, of course is their master tool implementers We know they’re not perfect, but we can make them sing we can make them do what they’re supposed to do So an MSP can really help, get the best the most benefit and the most You can optimize your tool in a way that you get the best bang for your buck And I think that’s it.
So, with that I think we’ll go to questions unless there’s anything else Kris you’d like to talk about
Kris Johnson: No, I’m interested to hear any feedback or questions or experiences from anyone that we have joining us today.
Chris Nielsen: So, I got one here Kris, from How would you get traction to govern the software life cycle in my organization if my leadership doesn’t seem that interested?
Kris Johnson: That’s a great question this is the art of managing up this is the art of managing by influence instead of authority I mentioned it a little bit before but it’s a matter of helping individuals with authority to understand the natural consequences.
of action or inaction and you have to be a good communicator. You have to be able to communicate to an executive audience effectively you have to make sure that you’ve done your homework and that you have polished your message Because you’re probably not going to get a whole lot of second chances or a whole lot of time to make your points, effectively this is where You want to, within your organization network and find champions to your cause.
It’s if you can develop a good relationship with a peer of a key stakeholder that they can help influence and provide a good word that can be very effective. I’ll also say that there’s a role for third parties in speaking truth to power. This is certainly true in the manage management consulting industry.
It’s also true in the IT asset management consulting industry that some political battles are can be cut through by having a third party that doesn’t have to live with the consequences of taking a stand or delivering a message that may not be politically popular.
I do this all the time to executive leadership is deliver the messages that no one else wants to have to deliver. And take advantage of you. If you’re engaging in MSP today have a third party that you use them as that effective third party and facilitator that they can be.
And then it’s just being relentless in your persistence. Don’t give up. An effective IT asset manager, probably 80 percent of what they do is communicate. And so hopefully you’ve got an organization built out to where you’ve got others handling more of the day to day, so that the ITAM program director can do what Is front and center to the role which is manage those expectations with the various stakeholders.
Chris Nielsen: Thanks Kris We got a couple more. Are you seeing a different approach from software vendors? IASP from IBM I’ll take that one. So yes, I would say so. There’s different levels of publishers the different strategies right some are they want to audit and get the money and Not so care so much about the relationship, but I have seen a shift over the years As things move to the cloud and as people get audit weary, I guess you could say there I think they’re starting to realize that there’s a better way and so there has been a shift the ISP program.
I don’t know if everyone’s familiar. That’s a program from IBM where if you have there’s some certain specifics that you have to agree to but one of them is having a qualified partner MSP that’s that works with you on your IBM, but then they will give you some audit immunity potentially and so it’s a little more of a friendly approach to buying software but yes, there is a shift especially with the cloud a lot of this software now if it’s in the cloud it’s automatically discoverable By the publisher and so there’s a shift to it being much more of a cost management approach rather than an audit approach So you’ve got to manage it still It’s just you got to be a little more agile because the publisher knows about it being deployed just as quickly as you do now and so there has been so that is There’s a different approach you have to go with instead of just hoping you don’t get audited.
You’ve got to actively manage all of your deployments in the cloud now to make sure that your, all your ducks in a row.
Kris Johnson: Yeah, those are great points, Chris. I’ll just add to that while we see some like IBM innovating with things like the IASP program, you see the other, second tier publishers, the micro focuses, the quests that are as aggressive as they ever were.
And when. Will likely continue to be so aggressive so long as it’s working in their favor you also see some A bit of window dressing, perhaps you look at Oracle, right? They have a consulting arm that’s supposed to help you with your licensing that’s not out of their compliance program but it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and at the end of the day, it doesn’t actually leave you in a compliant position.
It just was a sales tactic to, to get dollars out of you by a certain date with just a little bit different branding on it. Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. All right, Chris, I got one for you. This is a good one. This is right up your alley.
Chris Nielsen: What is the best approach to take when procuring tooling for salmon HAM?
There’s so much available in the marketplace. How do you sort things out effectively?
Kris Johnson: That’s a great question. I would direct you to our last webinar that we had on SAM Tool Selection for the Modern Era. I think we have a blog post coming out about that you can find on our website, but it’s so hard to find differentiating information.
A traditional RFP process is. Sometimes fraught with complications in trying to get at that efficiently. We’ve helped a number of organizations through a more effective selection process that is more efficient more effective at determining the best solution for true needs.
So, like I said, a fool with a tool is still a fool. There’s no reason to be a fool. Get the help that you need to understand what your true needs are. Just one small thing that webinar on this topic was. Most organizations neglect the homework and the real work that it takes to truly understand what your true must have requirements are.
What typically happens in an RFP process is, someone in procurement that’s coordinating RFP effort, right? They send out an email to the different organizations represented. Send me your requirements. So, they get some from security, they get some from finance, they get some from IT, they get some from the SAM group, and then they take everything they jumble it all together, and then maybe they go through a prioritization exercise.
If you were to look at What a company says is there must have requirements and compare that to what after a tool Implementation what their tool actually does. I think you’d find a very different Perspective of what their actual true must have requirements are you know in terms of approach, if you can’t if you’re Beholden to a traditional RFP process as many organizations are it’s understandable There’s things you can do to tweak that to make it more effective along the way But one of those things would be make sure you do the heavy lifting up front to understand what your true requirements are If you don’t know what your true requirements are, how can you possibly select a tool that’s going to meet those needs?
Chris Nielsen: So, a lot more to say about that, but I’ll just direct folks to that other webinar we did, And I think we have one more. So, it says, I definitely appreciate the value that MSP can provide, but the federal space seems to be shying away from the solution. Is Anglepoint or other third-party vendors making any inroads into the federal space?
Kris Johnson: Yeah, we have a number of federal clients. I know other MSPs that do as well. Certainly, the federal space has its own requirements to be able to be a provider like that. But there are those of us that had taken those steps to be able to provide that level of service.
And even if you’re in a situation where you can’t engage in MSP, which by the way, an MSP that support can take various different forms, right? It can range from completely outsourced, which hardly anybody does, to somewhere in the middle, which is a hybrid approach where it’s a combination of your internal resources with, outside expertise when it’s needed to, just engaging a provider on an as needed basis to help you at certain points.
In the federal space, if the completely outsourced model isn’t going to be compatible, which I would shy away from for any organization, you always need a hybrid approach in my opinion. But you can usually get the help that you need when you need it, even if it’s not on an ongoing basis as a managed service.
Great questions. Did we have any more come through?
That’s it. All right. If there are any other questions you know how to contact us. We’d be happy to help any way that we can. And we thank everyone for their time. And we’ll kick it back to you, Alex.
Alex Benson: Perfect. Thank you both for that great presentation and thank you all for attending and joining us today.
Like Kris said you can reach out to them personally with their contact information that’s on this slide, or if you have any further questions, you can reach out to us at info at anglepoint. com or on our website. That is, it from us. Thank you again for attending and we will see you here again next time.