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Keep the momentum going and get the most benefit from your SAM efforts

By adopting solid policies and procedures for software acquisition, storage, inventory, and use, you are well on your way to implementing a successful ongoing SAM program. Before you continue, make sure that your organization has a plan in place to:

  • Centralize software purchasing to keep it under control and organized.

  • Standardize software titles to ensure that your employees are using the same versions.

  • Create a software inventory database or spreadsheet to keep track of software licenses.

  • Retire obsolete workstations and software.

Step-by-Step Training: Creating and Maintaining a Plan

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Step 4:  Learn tips on how to set your SAM plan in motion, and find out what you can do to keep it going—so that you get the most out of all your efforts now and in the future

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Keeping SAM Alive

  • Analyzing software:  Always know what you have so that you can make the best use of your software and hardware assets and support them more efficiently. You are best served to plan in advance for software investments to ensure that you control costs and make more-informed strategic decisions as your company grows.

  • Keeping software safe and organized:   Build on your inventory efforts by maintaining a regular inventory schedule to keep your information up to date and ensure that you remain compliant with licensing requirements.

  • Reducing support costs:  Standardize applications and systems to optimize your assets and reduce support costs.

  • Training:   Keep employees well trained and involved in the process of implementing and maintaining your SAM plan.

After you have implemented all of the steps to complete your SAM plan, you will better know what you own, you will have more insight to acquire only what you need, and you will be better able to do more with what you already have. Your company will have better control over the tools and materials it needs to optimize for future growth, to build exceptional business results.

Analyzing Software

Know What You Have

Try creating a software and hardware "map” for your organization. Knowing what software is installed on which computers and knowing where they are located throughout your organization can be very helpful, especially for your support team. You can include this information in a software inventory database, create it in a separate spreadsheet, or map it out in a diagram that shows the location of each computer, the user at that computer, and the software installed.

Know What You Need

It is important to determine which software titles your company needs to conduct its business, and how those needs change as your company grows. Work with key people in each department to clarify what software their employees require to get their jobs done. Ask employees what software they need and what they aren’t using. Follow up with employees on an annual, biannual, or quarterly basis. Also assess employees’ skill sets to determine if their job competencies reflect their software needs.

After this analysis, you can retire all software that is not used for business purposes and provide employees with software that they need for their jobs.

Download an Employee Software Questionnaire

Keeping Organized

Keep a Regular Inventory Schedule

By conducting an thorough baseline inventory of all your software and licenses, you have started your SAM plan in motion. If you have laid this important foundation, the next step is to develop a schedule of regular inventories to keep that information up to date. Your specific inventory schedule will likely be determined by the size of your company, its purchasing habits, and growth rate.

A good way to stay on top of your inventory is by entering all new software acquisitions into the system upon arrival, as part of your software acquisition policy. This practice should become a part of your standard invoice payment or software check-in process and should be performed on a purchase-by-purchase basis. This step will also help to maintain all proof of ownership documentation and installation media.

Developing a standard software check-in process

For help with this step, look into installing software asset management tools that can continuously monitor installations on networked computers and provide inventory reports in real time.

Learn more about software asset management tools

Spot Checks

Even if you are using advanced SAM tools, it is not enough to rely solely on these tools to keep your inventory up to date and in order. You will also need to perform periodic inventory spot checks to keep things running smoothly. You can perform spot checks on a random sample of specific computers or for a few specific software titles. Determine a threshold of error—if the difference between the software inventory report and the spot check is significant, you might want to perform a full software inventory. Perform these random checks at least quarterly. And once a year, perform a full inventory and generate the results in a full report.

You may also want to hire an outside agency to perform a periodic audit of your inventory and compare those results to your own findings. You may want to work with third-party consulting who has demonstrated expertise in this area through the Microsoft SAM Competency, reach out to your software reseller for assistance, or even contact the software publishers directly for help with this process.

Get help from SAM Competency partners

Keep Software Safe

It is important to make sure that all licensing documentation and at least one copy of each software title and version are protected under lock and key. A limited number of employees should have access to the actual software materials to help protect against possible misuse or theft. This is where the policies you have developed regarding software storage and disaster recovery play an important role.

Read more about keeping your software and documentation safe

Reducing Support Costs

Standardize Software and Processes to Reduce Costs

By standardizing the applications and systems your company uses, you can help limit the number of programs and devices your staff must support, and ultimately reduce your support costs.

Avoid custom in-house solutions whenever you can, as the support overhead for custom applications is generally far greater than for prepackaged software. With prepackaged software, your support staff can contact the vendor if issues arise, but they have no one to fall back on for applications created in-house.

Encourage your staff to find ways to automate any repetitive tasks that they perform. This helps them think more directly about the tasks they do, and it can save a lot of time. Just make sure to document any automated task, and set up a procedure for checking up on it and updating it regularly.

Read more tips on reducing support costs

Employee Training on SAM

Set Up Training and Keep Employees Involved

By now all employees, from senior management on down, should have a general knowledge of SAM and its requirements. And when your SAM plan is fully realized, you will need to keep the momentum going and keep your employees onboard with ongoing training and awareness policies. Do not let employees get complacent about SAM. Schedule regular training sessions for new hires and existing employees.

It is important that you keep employees informed of any changes to your SAM plan so they can keep up with new policies and procedures. All employees should be reminded of how SAM helps them with their everyday routines and keeps things running smoothly. For new hires, SAM awareness and training is especially important. Take steps to stress the importance of SAM and the scope of your plan, and how it relates to your company's day-to-day operations. Consider devising a "starter package" that outlines your plan, and make sure all new hires receive a copy.

To help facilitate ongoing SAM training and awareness, consider the following:

  • Develop a summary of the plan and employees' responsibilities, and make it readily available to everyone in your organization.

  • Make sure any new policies are communicated to all employees in a timely manner.

  • Continually remind all employees of the importance of SAM to the organization, and make it a part of your overall company culture.

  • Remind employees of the potential risks associated with not following proper SAM techniques and procedures.

  • Make sure all employees are aware of the SAM tools that are available to them and that they are properly trained on their uses and benefits.

  • Prepare periodic progress reports and distribute them among appropriate members of your staff.

  • Periodically review the tools you are using to keep SAM going and decide whether they are right for your organization.

Learn about Software Assurance benefits

Keeping the Momentum Going

To ensure the gains you have made are not ignored, forgotten, or taken for granted by your employees, consider the following:

  • Make SAM a part of everyone's job, from senior management on down, and incorporate its processes into everyone's daily routine.

  • Ensure that all new hires are aware of your SAM program and see to it that existing employees are following the plan.

  • Make sure your employees know how SAM directly benefits them and the ways it improves their overall workflow.

  • Let your plan evolve and make sure that improvements are made over time. New practices and policies need to be adhered to and changes to the plan must occur as your company grows and matures.

  • Develop measures to deal with problems before they arise.

  • Look in at your suppliers periodically and make sure they are following proper guidelines and industry "best practices." Make sure their records match your own.

  • Look in at your suppliers periodically and make sure they are following proper guidelines and industry "best practices." Make sure their records match your own.

  • Look to outside agencies for certification and make sure your company is following proper industry guidelines and "best practices."

These steps will help your organization continue in its new SAM program, maintain the bar you have set, and over time can help to improve your organization’s SAM maturity level and overall return on investment (ROI).

SAM Optimization Model

How can you evaluate your SAM plan effectively and objectively? The SAM Optimization Model (SOM) is the SAM evaluation framework launched by Microsoft that is aligned with Infrastructure Optimization (IO). It provides an established set of criteria to help you evaluate your SAM efforts and understand and subsequently improve the state of your software asset management. The levels of SAM maturity—Basic, Standardized, Rational, and Dynamic—are the same as those of the IO framework. And using this optimization model, SAM Competency Partners can offer guidance and create a roadmap to visualize benefits and savings for each stage of SAM maturity within an organization.

Learn more about the SAM Optimization Model