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Running Your SAM Department Like a Business

This is a follow up article to ‘Our Software Licensing is a Mess – Where Do We Start?” It is aimed at SAM beginners.

SAM can touch all areas of the enterprise. I’ve often heard organizations describe their new Asset Management implementation as ‘Opening Pandora’s Box’. The data becomes very valuable but also unearths all sorts of issues. When starting it out it is not always obvious where to start, especially if you have a small team and a finite budget.

My recommendation is to run your SAM department like a business – manage your resources and priorities to deliver services back to the business. You achieve this by breaking your responsibilities into component services. Delphine Chelouche from Givaudan covered this during her session at the Gartner IT Financial, Procurement and Asset Management Summit in September.

By a service I mean: What will our SAM function deliver back to the business?

Defining a set of specific and narrow service deliverables has the following benefits:

  • Your efforts are focused towards delivery of the service rather than being overwhelmed by the enormity of it all
  • Your service can be measured against specific metrics and deliverables
  • You can decide what parts of the service you can do internally, which externally
  • It helps shape your priorities
  • Policies and organizational change can be handled one step at a time
  • It allows you to plan for the future and forecast resource requirements
  • It allows you to turn away requests that deviate from your core services

In the previous article I advised not to boil the ocean and to focus on your top strategic vendors. So for example a service deliverable might be: Manage the compliance position for our top 10 vendors. It has a deliverable (perhaps quarterly reports), it has metrics ($£$ deviation from compliance) and you can forecast resources (trustworthy inventory data, licensing expertise, time for reconciliation and follow up etc.)

If you are starting out I have suggested six core SAM services that you may wish to consider. You won’t be able to execute all of these at once (just like you wouldn’t want to deliver all ITIL processes at once), but you can plot a roadmap that shows how your SAM practice will mature over time (Robin Trebec from Chevron gave a good overview of her maturity roadmap at the IAITAM conference last year).

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The goal is that each new service deliverable will build upon the last and bring new value to the organization and that each deliverable can be managed and monitored. As your SAM practice matures and bring more value to the organization you can request more resources and build more services; therefore ‘Bootstrapping’ your way to long term success.

I enclose further details regarding each service below:

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Has this worked in practice for you? Would you recommend any other services or a different approach?

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.


  1. Tim Heywood says:

    Thanks. I started writing some comments, an instead turned it into a full blown post of my own.
    Available at:

  2. Thanks for your response Tim. Your mileage will vary in terms of what services ‘Your Business’ wants to provide – the most important point is that they are broken into services with service deliverables. My hope is that SAM folks can break off manageable chunks in order to not be overwhelmed by the enormity of it all.

  3. JCS says:

    This is exciting!  I’m further along than I suspected.

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