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Streamline ITAM & Procurement – Better Together

USU and Anglepoint partnership logo

How can organizations handle rising software and IT costs without passing them onto consumers?

Join us and our friends at USU for our webinar to discuss how ITAM and procurement teams can work together to reduce spend. Here are a few of the topics we’ll cover:

  • SAM & FinOps / growing SaaS
  • IT visibility – consistent data end-to-end
  • Contract alignment
  • CX – user request experience
  • Hardware Asset Management (HAM)

Watch our webinar today and learn how to streamline ITAM and procurement!

Meet the Presenters

Brian White Director Anglepoint headshot
Rebecca Horton Anglepoint VP headshot

Webinar Transcript

Brian White:

First of all, I’d just like to say I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by Rebecca Horton, who is the VP of Customer and Professional Services at USU. So I’ve known Rebecca for many years and she’s always been an excellent source of guidance and advice and a bit of a take on anything happening.

So, we’re very lucky to have her join us today and share some of her experience. Could you provide a bit of background around yourself, Rebecca, be appreciated?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah, no, thanks for having me. First of all, you know me, I always love to just hang out and geek out on anything and all things ITAM, so thank you for including me.

So, I’ve been in the IT asset management industry for about 15 years. I started out on the reseller side of the business. I’ve worked for vendors like Red Hat, HP. Also been an independent consultant working with customers all over the world helping with the design and implementation of IT asset management practices.

And more recently I’ve started to get really interested in the relationship between FinOps and IT asset management. Looking forward to learning lots more about that and partnering with Anglepoint.

Brian White:

Brilliant. Thank you for that. And I’m Brian White. I’m the director of the program development team here at Anglepoint.

I’ve been in ITAM for about 18 years. Originally in the reseller space providing baseline positions and compliance and then maturing in through various roles of actually building our ITAM programs within our customer base.

So in terms of the agenda today what triggered this topic really was lots of our customers and a lot of market commentary talking about the impact of the business, of an increasing breadth of technology.

So we’re talking here about SaaS, about more end user driven decision making of what software they want, when they want it. Moving towards more of an app store type experience for users. And the world has changed for when you need a bit of technology or infrastructure and actually how businesses are reacting to serve their user base in various different stakeholders.

So we thought a useful way to take this would be to almost go on a persona side of things, starting with vendor management, then moving on to procurement, and then moving on to end users in the ITAM team. And as Braden mentioned, we’ll also have a lot of questions throughout the way. Fingers on the buttons as we go along, we, we’d be delighted to get your impact as we go along.

So moving on, first of all, to vendor management. If we could pop the question up there, please, Braden, that’d be brilliant. So what we’re hearing a lot is actually a lot of people coming to us now, rather than just being SAM professionals or licensing professionals, it’s actually vendor management and procurement to say, actually, how do I negotiate?

What do I do? This isn’t like it used to be. People are requesting software in different ways. They’re managing it. So I suppose, Rebecca, what’s your take what did negotiating look like before and now and how’s that changed in recent years?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. I think one of the biggest impacts on negotiations is the fact that technology is now so distributed.

The way in which people can access technology has opened up so much. We’ve all been talking about shadow IT and it’s not necessarily just shadow IT it’s the business units want access to technology immediately. They don’t want to have to go through the traditional, or sometimes they’re not even aware of the traditional routes to getting these types of solutions.

They see a business need, they want to fill it, they want to address it. So, we’re seeing a lot of that distributed technology as well as we’re also seeing a lot more vendors becoming more broad and have greater depth with regards to the solutions. They’re like super providers. You think about the obviously Microsoft, Salesforce, ServiceNow.

All of these vendors are now moving into areas that they traditionally weren’t in, but they’ve opened up, again, the routes to those new markets they’ve got marketplace. So, we’re seeing a lot less of that. I have a single contract contracted once a year or once every three years.

I’ve going to negotiate it and I’m going to ask for my standard discount. To now, it’s the first challenge that vendor managers have to overcome is what are we even getting? What are we getting from this vendor or any vendor or what three products do I have that’s exactly the same business unit, but I’m getting from three different vendors.

So wrapping their heads around and wrapping their arms around all of that information and just figuring out what’s out there and who’s using it.

Brian White:

Yeah, and I suppose the other bit is you’ve got two sides really. You’ve got these mega vendors that are all encompassing, and we worked with a customer recently who used the term tentacles.

They’re getting their tentacles into the organizations and all these user groups and areas, and they’re almost selling on value to all of these end points. And actually, yeah, a vendor rather than being the kind of the arbiter and the design bottleneck for that actually. Trying and then get a handle on.

And then this happened again recently, we sat in a negotiation. Oh we’re not sure if we’re interested in this product anymore. It’s a bit of a negotiation. Oh, I’ve just spent the last month doing a proof of concept with this department and they said they love it.

Yeah. So how can people start to overcome that? Because that’s a real problem. And I suppose the way that. Negotiations have always been done in businesses. That’s really turning on its head, isn’t it?

Rebecca Horton:

It really is. And I think one of the best ways to get a handle audit is to look for non-traditional data sources about what’s being purchased and what’s being used.

So it used to be that, you would run a scan of STCM and take a look at what’s installed. That just doesn’t cut it anymore. We’ve now got customers who go, are going so far as to look for keywords within, for example, procurement data. So they’re looking at information in there and looking for keywords or any kind of tag that they can to figure out who’s buying stuff.

By these non-traditional roots, as well as also taking a look at other non-traditional data sources like the likes of Okta and Zscaler to take a look at activity and look for, again those websites. The SA products or PAs products that end users are buying and ultimately using and just figuring out what’s out there, what’s being used.

And then once they know what’s out there, they can really take a look at doing exercises around consolidation of a particular vendor, bringing that buying power together. As well as also doing any kind of product remediation. So again, if you’ve got, those niche players that are very specific and very focused in what they deliver and the value prop that they bring to a business, how can you actually extend that value prop to other business units and again, increase your buying power.

So for example, if you’ve got three or four different mind mapping or whiteboarding technologies, but you also know maybe that you’ve got two or three other business units that are interested in the same technology. You can bring all of those together, do an assessment of the pros and cons, the technical and functional requirements, make sure they meet the business needs, and then get buy-in to maybe at least reduce some of the number of vendors that you’re dealing with, ideally down to one, but even if you just can bring it back down to two, that’s better for you.

Brian White:

So it’s about the vendor managers talking, building bridges, listening rather than being the negotiator as the very much focus outwards.

It’s very much talking and understanding and, there, there may be a three unique use cases, why that piece of software is good. And that’s the challenge I suppose, is trying to untangle do we need this or don’t we? Or is this person just telling me they need this? Yeah, exactly. They do need it.

And then are they losing? Commercial economies have scaled by doing that. And is that worthwhile with the technical barriers they may even get from an enablement perspective of people using these different technologies?

Yep, exactly. So I suppose it’s really I think the other piece there in terms of negotiation, so I think again, a big piece is that the environmental impacts that we’ve seen and a big drive, again I’m sure you’ve heard similar across a lot of organizations to cut costs and reduce OpEx in particular, whereas there’s this big drive towards OpEx from the vendors of everyone going SaaS and everyone going subscription.

Yeah. Even you negotiate a framework and a really interesting conversation with a negotiation leader, one of our customers, and it’s, you’re not even negotiating what you need and placing an order anymore. You’re negotiating this framework that you’re then just going to consume against and it could end up being twice what you’d originally budgeted because you’re almost putting this in place and got what is, how do you see that playing out software, vendor management and negotiations. What have you seen?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah, so I think, obviously more and more vendors are going to continue to move to SaaS subscription type models. And the reason is to their benefit not to their customers, despite what they say. I think that’s really only going to change once enough of the marketplace starts to realize that it actually isn’t less expensive.

That the old models were actually more cost effective, but I think we’re probably still 10 years away from that actually happening. So what we’ve got to do now is deal with the framework the programs that we have in place and make the best use of them, and again, leverage them to our benefit, not to the vendors.

Some of the ways that you can do that is actually by understanding tax laws and revenue laws within your country, your state, or wherever you might be. If you can understand what some of the tricks and tips are around turning OpEx into CapEx, that’s a great negotiation point. A great leverage point for you as an organization that doesn’t even necessarily need to be part of the negotiations, but it’s just understanding where you can move some of that money around.

For example, if it’s a project in many states in the United States, you can actually CapEx operational spend. Because it’s a project as, as long as it’s part of the initial implementation. So getting really close to your project teams, your architecture teams, and your business means that you get ahead of those buying cycles.

You get inserted into those negotiation and those procurement processes much sooner so that you can raise awareness about how you can leverage OpEx spend into CapEx and leverage that to your benefit.

Brian White:

Yeah, so it’s all about not being blindsided really. And again, that this is a thing that we hear a lot from negotiation or vendor management teams is, at the 11th hour they get an invoice from the vendor and then they’ve got to go and figure out are we using it or not.

So I think it’s that thing of have your data ready. And I think another thing that, that we always find useful is to build out a renewal calendar to triage your vendors into kind of core mega vendors that we use and then the tail that we’re not really sure about.

And then attribute different set of activities, maybe nine months ahead for one, six months ahead for one and three months ahead for one. And then build the data that can actually support you to make better decision making around that. And something else we’ve observed, and to get your take, this is the carrot and the stick with vendors.

So actually going in and being the kind of the hardball type negotiator isn’t necessarily the best route to go anymore because if you’ve got your estate all on aw s you’ve not really got anywhere else to go. So it’s not really that hard to go. However, understanding the triggers and the levers where, they’re going to get their comps and they’re going to move forward.

If you, if we take this off 365 product and this is your product and we do a proof of concept here, can we free up some deployment, free of charge consultancy? Can we unlock some of your programs? And again it’s a more nuanced. Negotiation, I think, than historically it has been. But again, interest in kind of your experience and what you’ve seen there as well.

Rebecca Horton:

I think if you can build transparency with your vendor partners, I think that’s always to your benefit, right? Obviously, there’s certain information you’ve got to keep kind close to your vest and not necessarily share everything, but don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Ask your vendor rep, what are you getting comped on this year?

How can I help you accomplish your goals? You want to make more money? As a salesperson, I want to get the best deal. How do we work together to be able to do that? If you can get that kind of insight into what’s driving them and why they’re. Not forcing, but maybe pushing you towards certain things. Then you can understand how can, you can use that information to your benefit again as opposed to theirs.

So ask questions. Be open, be transparent. Talk about what your challenges and your business goals and objectives are for the next one, two, or three years, and make sure that you align with what their goals and objectives are and if they map up. Then that’s to your benefit, and that’s where you can pull those levers and get those extra discounts, and you can do things like introduce new technologies or help influence the business to move into different areas.

Otherwise, what you have to understand is if you’re ready to pull out the stick, you’ve got to be willing to use it. And not only have you got to be willing to use it, you’ve got to understand what the operational impact is to your organization. If you’re going to threaten to move to AWS from Azure or vice versa.

You’ve got to be willing to do it and you’ve got to have a plan to be able to do it.

Brian White:

Yeah, absolutely. And again, I think, again, back to those tentacles really, where we’ve seen people dig in and try and have that conversation. The tactics will invariably be that they’ll go around you and then go to those project teams and go to the people that do want the conversation around the technology that get the comp.

They’ll have the list in their CRM system of the people in your organization that will do that. So again if you can pick a supporter and an understander, again, we’ve seen. Things come a lot better. And actually those discount levels unlock, or maybe not necessarily discount levels, but unlocking, significant amounts of things like professional services and training and other valuable things to your organization.

Exactly. Yep. Exactly. And I think the other thing I’ve probably seen is around there there’s a lot of competition, particularly around SaaS vendors in particularly small spaces. Be willing, if you’re willing to use your brand in something like a case study or talk at something or yep. Put your brand behind it.

There is a financial benefit to that and leverage that benefit as a percentage discount into the negotiation again, is something that we’ve seen really effective because that there is that there are slim pickings really, and when you get to a C level, the difference in those technologies are very hard to understand.

So again, don’t underestimate the power of your brand, I would say and commercialize that. Yep, absolutely. Yeah. Okay, perfect. So I think that’s more mostly it from the kind of vendor management side of things. I suppose just wrapping up on that one really, Rebecca, so what does good look like really, do you think in today’s world for kind of vendor management?

And I think the other thing to consider here is probably this, and we’ll touch on this in a bit, is tight ropes versus guardrails, yeah, you will use this product or else it isn’t really working anymore. It’s more around, no you can do what you want so long as you act within these guard rails, and you can be.

Productive. But yeah, interested in your take, what good looks like.

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. I think, good looks like first and foremost access to data, right? Information about what’s being used, where, by who, and all of the other different data points or elements that you can use to help make justifications, business cases, plans, et cetera, et cetera.

So first and foremost, data, I think good also looks like having an understanding of what again, your goals and objectives are. If as a vendor manager you have a specific set of KPIs and metrics that you’re being measured against, focus on those with regards to your negotiations and use those to your benefit.

If one of your KPIs is percentage of discounts, then look for that and talk to the vendor about that. If it’s something else actual cost savings or cost avoidance, then look for those and make sure that you align your KPIs and metrics so that when you are reporting up to your leadership, you are telling them what good looks like, what good looks like.

I think the other final thing is around, like you were saying, policies and processes have historically been very limiting. What we now need to do is enable and it’s putting those frameworks in place to enable agility, enable the business, the users, to get what they need to be able to accomplish those business goals.

Don’t put up too many barriers, but yet still make sure that you’re gathering the information that you need and you’re influencing where you can. As opposed to just letting things run wild.

Brian White:

Yeah. Brilliant. Thanks for that. Great. So I think now we’ll move on to procurement and look at it from a slightly different perspective.

So I think the key here really is data. So vendor management are more looking after a small number of the mega vendors and trying to get the most out of them. Procurement are looking at this more holistically. And I think we’ve got a question to pop up here as well now. And I think the key here we hear is visibility.

The, there’s all this stuff out there, especially with cloud and SaaS. I don’t know where it is and I don’t know where to start. I think it’s a bit of piece and actually what used to work even two, three years ago just doesn’t work anymore because people don’t need to come through my procurement request and provisioning system.

But yeah, it’d be good to get your take on that, Rebecca.

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. IT visibility is a hot topic right now and this is what this is really all about. It’s, again, it’s understanding. Where are my services located? But not only just what are those where are those services located, but actually what’s the information and the data that’s being processed in those systems?

Because then that leads you to understand how important those systems or services are to your organization. So again, you want to enable the business to be able to do what it needs to do, but also understand, mitigate, and manage the risk that gets. Created with that agility and that enablement. So having a really strong IT visibility sort of strategy and having a way to generate unique reports and information for all of your stakeholders, not only for you, yourself within your procurement team, but also your partner stakeholder groups like IT asset management, security vendor management, or any of your business units. Being able to provide them with the data that they need so that they can make business decisions that are actually formed on good information. Accurate, timely information that will then enable you and enable them to do the right thing with regards to how you buy, what you buy, when you buy, and then putting processes and those guardrails in place to make sure that you’re buying through the right channel.

Brian White:

Yeah, and interestingly, just see in the response to the poll, there a lot in the lower end around kind of confidence and having visibility across all software spend. And I think a big thing that’s driving this is actually in today’s world, an individual or a department can actually have a requirement, can make a procurement decision, and can actually make an implementation decision if it comes to your signing up to a SaaS platform that may be completely invisible.

Put that on a credit card or a departmental spend area, and suddenly you’ve got very little visibility over that. So again, I think is the challenge that a lot of our customers are facing of, do I, you don’t want to stop that and stop productivity and be the bad guys, so to speak.

I think one of our customers said recently this, if a department’s really profitable and they’re doing great stuff and there, yeah. The, the golden children of the company, you don’t want to come in and tell them they’re not allowed to do what they want. But likewise, there needs to be some kind of central management, but it’s a really difficult line to walk, isn’t it?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah, it really is. And I think one of the best ways to overcome that is to talk to those business units about what they’re trying to accomplish and what their goals are. If you’re working with sales and their goal is to, expand into new markets, there’s always ways that you could help and facilitate that.

Expanding into new markets means having agility with regards to resources. And people and being able to scale up or scale down very rapidly in new regions. Talking to them and saying, you know what, by using, the practiced channels or creating new channels, we can enable you to scale those teams up into new regions very rapidly.

But in order for us to be able to do that, we need to know what your requirements are. As much ahead of time as possible so that we can facilitate getting laptops out, getting resources out, getting access to software, whatever it might be, so that you can accomplish those goals. So if you talk to business stakeholders, what they want to accomplish, then you can always figure out a way to align with them.

Brian White:

Yeah, so it comes out is, it’s that flip side again, really isn’t it said being a service provider. So understand what the outcome is for those users to be productive and to drive profitability. And then actually, what do you need from us? And rather than, again, just be negative, explain your challenges around doing that and operationalizing that.

And also maybe the implications I think is a little bit as well, if you are a user and you just want something, you just want something, and actually you talk to them a bit around the needs for control and governance and IT security, for example. Do you know where this platform that you’ve just signed up to stores our data and if you’ve just broken any laws?

That’s so true. Simple kind of enablement and training and awareness. And then suddenly that can, then it gets management buy-in and then suddenly it rolls through. And again, it can be you can deploy anything you want, so long as it doesn’t have data here and it’s in this category. And you’ve considered one of our approved.

Yeah. Your tools from the catalog. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. Collaborating towards a common outcome. But again, I think it’s similar as that talk and build bridges really, isn’t it? Absolutely.

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. And catalog is key and it’s not just a catalog of saying what’s available, many times we’ve got end users that go into a catalog.

They see the name of a vendor, they don’t understand what it means. What they want to see in a catalog is what is the business outcome that I will accomplish? Is this, for example, a mind mapping tool? Is it a PDF tool or the CRM tool? They need to know and understand what is this software doing for me and how will it support my business need, not just the name of the vendor and the type of licenses that I can buy.

Brian White:

So it’s about getting user-centric and helping make procurement decisions. So you’re you are, you’re influencing, making life easy and again, becoming that service provider rather than exactly the boring spreadsheet that’s 10 pages long and I may never see the light of day and it might be two weeks before I, I want but again, it’s organizations are adopting very agile.

Agile type methodologies because yep. Being there with some of our customers is suddenly they have a standup or run a sprint and at 9:00 AM they decide they want something and you know they need that at nine 15. Yeah. Or problem, they can’t wait until Wednesday because then suddenly it’s an issue and then they can’t run that sprint.

And it not as a knock-on factor, everything, but again, that’s through talking to the department leads and saying is, can you get me a pool of software that you might need on short notes? Then we can set that up ready to provision, and we can negotiate a contract, work with our vendor negotiation team to build a flexible contract that’s scale up and down, and then you are augmenting the machine around, around getting the best experience.

Rebecca Horton:

Anything you can do to automate standard processes is to your benefit. It’s all about get the data. Automate the process and then facilitate a smooth and easy transaction for your end users.

Brian White:

Yeah. And the other area of interesting take, and we’re hearing from, very much from a sourcing perspective of actually we used to have, option A and option B for sourcing.

And option B was everything from a table and it could be do bit a software, but that’s not really working anymore. So actually reworking that end-to-end data, the governance, the process, what’s your take on what’s changed there in, in recent years?

Rebecca Horton:

I think so much has changed.

The transformation of the IT landscape has had such a huge impact on the need for governance, right? When we think about practices like FinOps is, to me, the way I explain it to myself is the combination of, finances and governance, right?

It’s again, understanding what kind of the triggers are, understanding what kind of framework you need to put in place to put in. Standardized controls, automated controls but yet still enable the business to act quickly and do things in a very rapid way because the, in the marketplace is ever changing.

Businesses need to be able to respond very quickly to market changes. And the way that they do that is through technology. So I think that, having a framework for governance is now more important than ever because we need to facilitate agility but re maintain some sort of level of control.

And the only way that you could do that is through automated governance with various tools and technologies.

Brian White:

The right level of governance, isn’t it? And talk and listen. I think that’s the key. And then build the governance that, that achieves what they want to. Okay. I think that’s really interesting.

Now if we jump, jump to the user perspective, I think we’re well on the way there now anyway, but I think this is the key really, and again, this has been a lot of the feedback of actually we’ve had this mandate to, to adopt this decentralized, empowered end user positioning.

We need to figure out how to make that work for us and what does it mean, and again, there’s a lot of traditional IT config SAM departments that are really struggling with this. So what, I know we’ve touched on that already, but what does that kind of seamless end user experience look and feel like, do you think?

Rebecca Horton:

Again, I think through data and automation, you can almost create an internal marketplace, right? So for an end user to have a positive experience with regards to the request process. It needs to be, first of all, easy to find. So part of that comes through ongoing and communications with all of your end user groups.

You’ve got to remind people on a regular basis how to get the software or the services that they need and how to do it in a quick and easy way. Whether you’re sending out an email or you’re doing like a little quick coffee break reminder. People forget the last three things that they heard of you don’t stay in front of them.

Now, if they need something, and if they can’t find it within literally 30 seconds, they’ll go and get it themselves by some other route. So first of all, you’ve got to communicate with them on a regular basis to remind them where to go. Once they get there, then you’ve got to make the process seamless, easy.

So again, it’s about understanding and creating a catalog of assets so that they can go in and not search for Adobe or even pdf, but they can search for the business outcome that they’re looking for. Things like document signature, things like customer relationship or place to store my customer data, right?

Those are the types of things that end users search for. Quite often our end users are not technical. They’re not particularly savvy in the world of software. They’re not thinking about the features and functionalities. They’re thinking about the business outcome. So that’s what you’ve got to help and enable them to search for when they go into that catalog.

Once they get into that catalog and they’re able to find what they need, then you’ve got to have the fulfillment as easy as possible. So again, don’t put controls and limitations in place. Many organizations that I work with, they wait for a procurement request to be fulfilled before they actually deploy the software.

If you can write that capability into your software agreement where you have let’s say 15, 30 or even 90 days to backend those procurement practices, then that just gives you more ability. If it’s approved for that particular person or user group, then why wait for an actual purchase to be made?

Just give them the software they can get on with their day, and you can get on with making that purchase. You’ve got a happy end user and you’re able to stay within the framework that you built.

Brian White:

Yeah. So a key piece here is then going to be persona management, isn’t it? Thinking about it from a, an operational standpoint and an IT standpoint behind the scenes in the black box.

So at the point that person clicks on, I want piece of software, and they’re presented, you’re going through that work to actually understand from your approved software or even. Kind of cloud provisioning catalog or whatever that might be. It’s all geared towards if this person in this role and this department has something and they’re allowed it if this, and I think the other, that’s the other bit I’ve taken from FinOps really interesting is it’s this empowerment.

Give the automation approval to the line management. So they’re not chasing the business in inverted commerce or it, they’re chasing their managers and then the manager is then clicking on agree and taking accountability for that spend and usage. Forward. Yeah. I think that’s the bit where ITAM, I think can learn a lot from FinOps in terms of creating a framework for people to understand their spend, their usage, their control.

And then that line manager can say, actually, here’s my pot of spend. If I remove that bit of software for someone, I can reallocate it to someone else over here. Or if I get them to scale down, that is your instance or this set here, then it means that I can spin up this other project over here. And then you’re giving more autonomy to those groups.

And I think that’s the way it’s going, but I think. You get exploding splined when people are doing that without these guard rails and unstructured. So it’s a case I think of empowering, but I think the governance needed to do that is, is significant. Absolutely. So where would people start with that kind of thing?

What would that look like of actually how do we create this end user experience as someone today is an interesting, we’ve got a mixed bag there. So it’s clearly people along different lines of the journey with that maturity moving forward. But if someone’s at the low end of that how, where would you start?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah, oh gosh, that’s a big question. I think one of the, one of the best places to start is again, first of all, get a handle on what’s currently in place. Start with your path of least resistance. What are the applications that are already. Standardized that are already widely used, and figure out how you can facilitate an easier acquisition process for things that are already relatively standardized, then you can start addressing some of the exceptions, right? What are the applications or systems or services that are specific to certain business units? How can you put automation further into those, particularly where you’ve got alignment between a business unit and a budget? Understanding where budgets lie is very important, and if you can help influence within the organization to remove some of those budget restrictions, then that just benefits most of the organization.

If you can say, this should be a central IT budget as opposed to a sales or marketing or, Whatever budget then you can open things up and then you can share those resources much more freely across those business units. So I think really it’s like looking for that low hanging fruit. Where can you remove friction through automation by providing reports.

Creating alerts and notifications. Where can you standardize on things? Where can you put people into user groups as opposed to one-to-one assignment of licenses? Just put them into a user group and then having the ability to then monitor, measure, and report on the actual usage of that software and putting in place a practice whereby, People will have software removed, but again, make the re-access to that software very quick and agile, and then you can really optimize the utilization of all of your software.

Brian White:

So key thing there is going to be actually understanding your users. That’s the first thing. Yeah. So if you can get data around what are, what’s our most requested software? Yeah. What do we need? What are these? Is there a big initiative or a big project moving forward that’s going to do something really critical to the company that’s got really high visibility?

Let’s sit with that department lead and really understand what they want and what that looks like and what it means. And then there’s a bit of the 80 20 rule there, isn’t there? I think if you can, it’s probably. 20% or a very small pool of name titles, there might only be 10 or 15 titles in there. And actually just by doing that you’ll significantly improve that experience.

Rebecca Horton:


Brian White:

Yeah. Absolutely. And then obviously these different groups talking together, that piece through the procurement of vendor management, can we negotiate, and all you can eat agreement for this type of software, and then you just remove that. And is that additional cost worth the benefit of just say yes and it doesn’t matter.

Rebecca Horton:

Absolutely. Yeah. I think, from an IT asset management perspective there’s typically sort of certain goals and objectives. When we’re implementing a new SAM practice, we look at things like reduced risk around audit, reduced costs.

The third one that many organizations focus on, but in a later phase of their maturity journey is actually operational and organizational optimization. It’s how do you have an impact on the end user experience? Whether your end user is an end computer or even your end user is part of your dev team or your infrastructure team.

Again, the goal is get the assets in their hands that they need quickly and without friction so that the business can continue.

Brian White:

Yeah, we’ve had a question just drop in Rebecca from David. I don’t know if you can see that one. Oh sure.


Rebecca Horton:

Do you want to read it?

Brian White:

Yeah. If I go, and then you can answer. Yeah. We’re in the process of our software ordering workflows. How do you see a seamless user experience kicking out to the never-ending delivery options? SCM packages. Chaco Repos, container images, office stores, plugging extension managers, GitHub.

So is that. Amalgamation of this breadth of data like we were talking about before how do you make that seamless and single point?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. I’m probably not the best person to answer this because I’m not technical, so I can only ever speak conceptually. But I would say, if you can group together your different types of software assets, right?

And say, okay, these ones are all done by SCCM, or these ones are done by, all of the various methods by which you can provide access. Once you get that sort of like standardized process, then you can look at automating it, right? And sometimes that means the introduction of additional tools in order to facilitate.

So one of the things you need to understand as far as modernizing those workflows is what is the support that you have from your senior leadership, and are they willing to invest? To get the outcome that they’re looking for. If they’re just coming to you and saying, make this easier than what the question you have to ask them and yourselves is, and what are we willing to invest in order to make that happen?

It might mean that you need to introduce new capabilities, tools like Okta and other types of sort of identity and access management technologies. And if they’re not willing to do that, then you need to be very transparent about the impact. That you’re going to be able to have so that you can level some expectations.

So I hope that helps.

Brian White:

Yeah, and I think a bit to add there really is manage. Your third parties think will be my feedback. In particular, if you’ve got resellers or you’ve got suppliers, a key piece here is actually ingestion of data. Particularly spend data, procurement data into your procurement systems.

If you are doing an RFP for a reseller then into that RFP, you need to provide us with this reporting on a dynamic or on a regular basis of these fields in this way. And if you can’t adhere to that then you should not be her reseller because this is a prerequisite for what we need.

And then actually start to manage that end-to-end data piece in a much more efficient way. And then in terms of the delivery side of things, again I’m not particularly technical but I think the keys is very much obsessed with the user experience. And then if there is automation between different tool sets and what that looks like, try as best as possible to make that the black box that sits in between.

Or if that is an automated box, automate as much as possible through that workflow. And again, we’ve seen the third-party tools that can provide that or can work together to provide that. Absolutely.

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. One of the biggest areas of growth within the IT industry is actually the area of APIs.

So the things that connect your various systems together is huge business right now. That’s how you facilitate all of this stuff. It’s not about having one single source to go to. It’s about creating a network of systems that all work and talk together.

Brian White:

Yeah, absolutely. And again, in the selection and growth of those systems interaction and data flow is key then between them.

Absolutely. Okay, so great. Now jumping onto the one probably closest to our hearts and probably most people on the call, the ITAM team. So I think something that’s really interesting that we’ve seen is there are various ITAM teams, some kind of sit and very focused. They do a great job around running a tool like, like USU and managing it and managing the entitlement and controlling that and doing the ELPs and negotiating and maybe working with vendor management.

A lot of things we’ve spoken about today have. Very little to do with producing ELPs necessarily. Yeah. There may be a part process and very little around maybe tools necessarily. So you’re having a bigger, more business led conversation, which often can be uncomfortable for some SAM departments or people within them.

Kind of, again, Rebecca, your feedback and where would you start with that kind of discussion in terms of engaging with the stakeholders?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. So my biggest I guess trick or tip with regards to engaging stakeholders is back to something I mentioned earlier, which is the first question you ask is what are their goals and objectives?

If you can understand what they’re trying to accomplish and talk about how you can help them, they will be much more inclined to do what they need to do in order to help you too. So they understand what their responsibility is to the business outcome that they’re looking for, as opposed to the business outcome that you are looking for.

They’ll be much more likely to agree to it, adhere to it, and follow the policies and processes that you put in place.

Brian White:

And would which kind of stakeholders would you start? Would it be the other personas that we’ve touched on here? Is there a particularly good place to start do you think?

Rebecca Horton:

I think, again, starting with non-traditional stakeholders is really where a lot of the magic is happening these days within the SAM industry is again, because so many decisions are being made outside of IT, outside of the infrastructure group, outside of the end user group, if you can reach out to those business units, talk to HR, talk to marketing, talk to sales.

Those are the pieces of the organization that are the ones that are actually using the software that we’re spending millions and millions of dollars on. Those are the business units that you can have the greatest impact and influence. So again, if you start with them to understand what their business goals are, and then you work backwards from what their existing processes is.

Processes are on how they get access to that. Then you can work with your traditional stakeholder groups as well. A lot of organizations are attaining levels of maturity now that SAM and ITAM have been practices for, gosh, 25 ish years. A lot of them are gaining the maturity level that they need to start truly having an impact outside of just.

Compliance and cost management. Now it’s really about business enablement and providing all of their stakeholders with the data that they need in order to make the business decisions that exist within those business units. Not necessarily because it’s a.

Brian White:

And interestingly, I think reflects there in the poll there.

So almost half the people have said they don’t have sufficient engagement with stakeholders to attain the highest possible savings and then a mixed bag of some people that are getting there. And I think it’s interesting what you say to extend on that a little bit. It’s understanding what those, what does the cost saving mean?

If we’ve, we had an interesting customer recently, and we’re hearing this a lot of, I want to understand my cloud spend. I don’t want to reduce my cloud spend, I just want to understand it, how it’s segmented, what it means, so I can then talk to that. And then finance leadership becomes almost a stakeholder then to be informed just so they can have an informed decision around it of where this is going and what it means.

So it’s not necessarily all we’re going to take it away and we’re going to reduce it.

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah, absolutely. I think I got a question from Rachel. In in the q and a. She says, our company aims to move the majority of our applications to the cloud as quickly as possible. This brings us a lot of headaches.

Besides SA and PA, what is your advice to us to prioritize asset management wise? This is an interesting one. So there’s different ways that I recommend that organizations prioritize. Obviously, cost is a big reason to prioritize. If you can save money by moving something to the cloud, that’s a really good reason and a really good justification.

Other reasons that a lot of organizations don’t necessarily consider is actually importance and stability to your organization. If you can improve stability by moving some of your key applications to the cloud, then you have the ability to have a true and real business impact. For example, if you’ve got Legacy ST systems, that, that are vital, meaning if they go down, your company loses money by the minute.

If you can improve the stability of those systems by moving them, even if they aren’t necessarily really expensive. Ie a lot of these systems are actually open source. You can still have a real business impact because what you’re doing is you’re helping to reduce the risk for loss of business functions.

So that’s another consideration. Another consideration is not just the cost of acquisition, but actually the cost of operational impact. So quite often we see multiple systems coming together that support. The delivery of whatever your service might be as a business, whether you are selling widgets and fidgets right on through to airlines or banks or insurance or whoever.

Whatever you are selling, the systems that you use in order to enable you to sell are the ones that rev that generate your revenue. So looking at revenue generation systems is also a really important factor.

Brian White:

That’s really interesting. Yeah. I think that’s it. It did to understand where’s best to put your shoulder behind, really. But I think coming back to an ITAM perspective and gathering the data and ITAM is an aggregator of the right information to. Manage the assets, which ultimately cloud assets are.

It’s understanding the roadmap I think would be key. We’ve worked with a lot of organizations who have said we’re moving into the cloud movement applications to the cloud. What is the timeline for that? Is there a plan? Is this application going to remain on premise? Is it going to,adopt one of the rehosting re-platform refactoring?

Kind of, how are we going to change that application? What does it mean? And ultimately, I think from an IT asset management perspective, what we’re trying to understand is in what year of the contract is that going to change? What does it mean, what does that mean in terms of the different metrics that I need to measure?

So do you need a SaaS management tooling? Do you need cloud management tooling? Do you have the data points to be able to manage all of that effectively? I would say. And are you staging them? And is this a SaaS and PaaS prioritized. So do, can you manage your mass applications in the same way as you can manage your on-premise applications?

Absolutely. Something else I think about from a maturity and governance perspective would be to read up on things like the Microsoft Cloud adoption framework. And AWS have this as well, but essentially it’s almost a cloud guide to starting a SAM program. And also a lot of the FinOps areas have actually, yeah.

What? What do we want to measure? How do we measure it? What does that look like? How do we want to present stakeholder reporting? And ask yourself all the same questions that you’d probably ask yourself in an on-premise environment. And actually just flush that through and say, actually, our scope is no longer on premise.

Our scope is now on-premise, SaaS, PaaS, and public Cloud, and that means you have the same control, visibility, management, ability to attribute consumption to users, request management, provisioning, control automation. Again, a lot of those things come into play. So it’s just, I think my feedback will be listen, understand what’s the rate of that cloud adoption happening, but also take a lot of your asset management core skills.

Cause what we’re seeing is they are really relevant when you’re bringing that back to a finance provider that doesn’t understand overspend. There’s actually quite a similar challenge to, I’ve got too many copies of physio at a very fundamental level of do you need it? Can you do with the lower version?

And actually, yeah. Bringing that on a much greater scale.

Rebecca Horton:

Exactly. Yeah. And I’ll also add, keep an eye out for the edge and IoT, anything that’s whatever’s coming next, right? And that’s where computing is going out to the edge which is both risky as well as an amazing opportunity. So get ahead of that as much as you can.

Brian White:

So what do you do there? I think probably from a From an ITAM perspective, do you listen and sit in the background? You don’t want to come in with your big size nines necessarily, do you?

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. Listening again, that stakeholder engagement is just so vital. You, I, if you are currently working on a project to move everything into the cloud or SA or paths or, whatever it might be, I guarantee that those stakeholders that own those projects are already thinking about what comes after that.

Because they’ve got architecture and planning that extends 3, 5, 7, and 10 years. They know what they’re going to do with their systems in many cases, or they think they know what they’re going to do based on current market and industry. But the more that you can talk to them about what are our long-term plans and visions and goals and where are we going to start pushing this computing after we’ve got it in the cloud, is there an opportunity to, for us to move things out to the edge, to further containerization?

What are the impacts of IoT on us? Cause one thing that we forget about within the IT asset management space is that we care so much about the asset. We forget that the greatest asset to the business is actually the data in those systems. So we need to be thinking again about what are, what do they care about?

Because I guarantee your marketing department doesn’t care about licenses, but they do care about all of the great information that they get from the systems that have all of that amazing customer and interactive data.

Brian White:

Yeah, exactly. So I suppose what does good look like then for a an ITAM department in terms of where things have changed at the moment and maybe at different levels of security.

And I think FinOps is probably a key one to consider there. Learn FinOps. Understand FinOps. I think there’s a lot of courses, hundred percent. That are great and it’ll also give you that base level of kind of ITAM applied to FinOps then. When I was doing a FinOps certification, it was just, this is all the same themes really of where.

Whereas ITAM has come in recent years. It’s really interesting.

Rebecca Horton:

Yeah. It really is. Yeah, and I think, the other thing that good looks like is quality, complete coverage, timely data. That’s, it’s what all of these are built on is the data. The data. And making sure that you can rely on that data is trustworthy.

Data improvement should be an ongoing goal within your ITAM or practice. So it’s all about the data, so the better you can get your data the better off you’ll be able to be to be able to respond to the business’ requirements.

Brian White:

This comes back to cloud again. It’s what is the report that somebody wants?

Give someone a blank piece of paper. What would you like to see? What is that report on? And your, to work backwards from there. Exactly. Yeah. Okay, great. So I think moving on from there, in terms of the ITAM team Kind of what’s next in terms of where to move forward with this?

A little bit of a plug here, but here at Anglepoint we’ve obviously worked with a lot of very large scale organizations and with our partners like USU and actually we’ve observed over many years the challenges that people have and often the challenges, people will jump into those middle boxes there.

And actually I need to sort out my process or I need to write a policy or I need to pick a tool. Actually, again, I think what we’ve spoken about here a lot is take a step back. What do we want to achieve? What are the goals? What does success mean? Fundamentally, which departments are going to lack after which area, and actually is our data complete aligned to those goals?

Cause if we’ve got a security heavy program versus maybe a cloud heavy program versus a, a cost saving. Top five vendor type program is going to be very different. And then do we have the publisher information and the inventory understanding to do that? So what we’ve designed is a very structured engagement model where we can actually start relatively light and assess and then move in and grow with that to deliver on the broader basis as required.

And then I think the other piece is in the kind of manage and improved piece as you do it. So a lot of people start a town program, there’s a big bang, there’s a lot of excitement. They get it moving or an ITAM program. And actually maybe 3, 6, 9 months down the line it slips into BAU. So it’s keep asking yourself what’s the next thing we’re going to do? Where are we going to go? What’s the next change that’s coming? And how can we align ourselves to that as an ITAM department? So I think that will be the key, but again, feedback from yourself, Rebecca, on how to stay relevant and move forward and where to start.

Rebecca Horton:

I always say have a plan, right? Have a 1, 3-, 5-, 7-, and 10-year plan. It doesn’t mean you have to stick to it, because again, you’ve got to be agile, but have a plan. And I think workshops like these are absolutely vital. Whether you’re just starting out, whether you’ve been doing it for a few years, or whether you’re ready to transform, start with a workshop, figure out where are you now, where do we want to be and what’s the plan and the steps for us to get there.

So I love this kind of approach. It’s absolutely fabulous.