This article has been contributed by Kris Barker, CEO and co-founder of Express Metrix, a leading provider of IT and software asset management tools, and curator of the industry’s first and only Software Audit Forum.
CFOs and their peers can be a tough sell when it comes to investing in technology and resources needed to get a job done right. IT asset management (ITAM) investments, as we all know, often get kicked to the back burner because of the view that ITAM initiatives are “nice-to-have” rather than “mission critical” or “strategic” priorities.
This is because decision-makers generally don’t fully understand the level of risk resulting from poor or non-existent asset management controls. And, they often need a guided tour of the financial rewards associated with identifying and re-harvesting unused software, standardizing on fewer software packages, or an improved outcome in the event of a software audit.
IT professionals charged with ensuring software license compliance and in search of a solution that delivers on all of the above need a well thought-out game plan if they are to be successful in securing investments in technology, personnel, and best practices required for an ITAM program to truly pay off. Here are a few rules of thumb that will smooth the process of persuasion:
What Not To Do
- Don’t substitute fuzzy aspirations for clear, relevant objectives – All too often, projects filter right up to the top only to fail at the final hurdle because goals are not well defined or outcomes aren’t aligned with corporate goals.
- Don’t wait until the last moment to gather support – Communicate regularly throughout the duration of the project with every group and individual that should have a voice in the project.
- Don’t absolve yourself of deadlines – If you do, it is almost inevitable that other projects will get in the way.
- Don’t try to do everything all at once – Divide your efforts into discrete, manageable segments and set realistic, incremental, and measurable goals.
- Don’t focus too much on the technology – Remember, you’re trying to obtain buy-in for an overall ITAM investment. If you put too much emphasis on tool selection, you (and other stakeholders) will likely get bogged down in the minutia of feature comparisons and lose sight of your broader objectives.
Five Steps to a Developing a Persuasive Business Case
- Do background research – Find out if anyone else already tried and failed to implement a similar initiative – and, if so, what lessons were learned? Determine the primary stakeholders and influencers, learn their “hot buttons”, and ascertain what they stand to gain from a successful outcome. Research what’s going on elsewhere in the company, since that may influence the timing and positioning of your request for investment.
- Focus on a few, clearly articulated goals – Minimizing compliance risk, eliminating wasteful license spending, and improving IT productivity are generally the most significant benefits delivered by an ITAM program. Determine the top three areas you believe ITAM can deliver value at your organization, and don’t lose sight of these.
- Provide a credible proof of concept – Select a handful of vendors/applications that you believe represent areas of licensing risk at your organization, and deploy a reputable SAM tool to analyze a subset of machines running those applications. At the very least, the tool should be able to perform an accurate software inventory, collect application usage data, and reconcile license counts with this information.
- Make the case – Use the analysis generated during your proof of concept to illustrate the potential impact of the ITAM program on the bottom line, from software cost savings to reduced staff overhead. Show the expected ROI by comparing hard- and soft-dollar savings with expected costs.
- Build consensus – To get buy-in, you must think like a politician. Tailor your message to your audience, trumpet your successes, and be prepared to strike a deal. Zero in on the teams and individuals that have most at stake in improving software asset management processes and get them on board. Above all, be patient, and don’t railroad your constituents; if you do everything else right and let the data speak, people will come around to your way of thinking.
With a clear communications strategy, flexibility and inventiveness in working around barriers, and a certain amount of dogged persistence, making the case for an investment in IT asset management can be a successful pursuit – and win you lots of new allies when the resulting program begins to bear fruit.
You can see Kris’ colleague, Dawson Stoops (also co-founder of Express Metrix), present at the IAITAM 2013 Fall ACE conference, 15-17 October in St Petersburg, Florida. He will discuss “Navigating and Overcoming Internal Barriers to Enterprise ITAM Investments” at 3.30pm on 16 October.