SAM Tool Support
At the ITAM Review, we are often giving our readers and fellow ITAM professionals advice on what to look out for when picking a SAM tool from a technical and process perspective. However, what about from a support perspective?
Support from SAM tool vendors, or the MSP/LAR that provides the SAM tool, is extremely important in helping businesses and professionals understand how to properly use the tool, and also in ensuring that they are getting the most use out of an expensive product.
Questions to ask a SAM Tool vendor when picking a Tool
During the research or selection phase of the SAM Tool procuring process, it is important to ask the SAM tool vendor a number of questions regarding their support capabilities:
- Where is the support staff based?
- What are their operating hours?
- What are their SLA’s (Service Level Agreements)?
- How many support staff are there?
- How will then respond to my support requests? (Via phone call, online meeting, in person etc)
It is important that before you enter into an agreement with a SAM tool vendor that you are satisfied that they have the resources and ability to help support you throughout your maintenance/support period. During implementation and then the subsequent lifespan of your SAM Tool, you will need help and support from the vendor and their experts. The implementation stage is especially important as this sets the tone for your relationship with the SAM tool vendor, and also gives you an indication as to what expertise they have and what their SLA’s are.
Global enterprise organisations will have offices in different time zones, and may require support at different times. Make sure you are aware of the operating times of the support desk within the vendor. If you have a large office in America that will be using the solution, but the vendor only work on European time, then they may not have the resources to fully support your organisation.
As a customer, you also need to know how many support staff the vendor has and what their SLA’s are. How quickly can you expect someone to reply or respond to any issues that you may have? Experience shows that some SAM tool vendors have a limited number of support staff compared to the amount of customers, so issues take longer to be rectified. Can you afford to be waiting a certain amount of days or weeks to get your problem sorted?
What to do if you are unhappy with the levels of support
Firstly, let the vendor know you are unhappy with the level of support you have been receiving. Most SAM tool vendors provide you with an account manager who should (key word being should!) be on hand to address any issues you have, or escalate technical issues to the right department.
If you feel as though you are getting no-where with the account manager, or that the SAM Tool vendor are not getting back to you quickly enough, then research MSP’s that provide expert technical knowledge for the SAM tool. A lot of the time they may actually be a better support network for you and your organisation than the SAM tool itself.
Finally, if you are deeply unhappy with the support and service you are receiving then we would suggest you have two options.
- Option 1. Have your legal department look through the contract that is in place with the SAM tool vendor. They may be able to somehow get you out of your maintenance agreement citing something along the lines of ‘not providing the service stated in the contract’. It may not work, but it is worth a try.
- Option 2. Wait for your maintenance to expire. Obviously, if you are unhappy with the service you have received you are unlikely to be renewing! Now is the time to look for alternatives. Some SAM tools may help you migrate your data from one SAM tool to another, so do not think it is the end of the world if you want to implement a new solution. There are a number of fantastic SAM tools out there, so if your current solution isn’t working for you, and you’re coming up to renewal time, then shop around. It is also worth mentioning your unhappiness with your current SAM tool vendor’s support to potential replacements, so they know you’re not afraid to change systems.
If your SAM project is being hindered by a lack of support from the SAM tool vendor, and you are not meeting your targets or deadlines, then it is important to make senior management aware of the issues you are experiencing. They may then assist you in finding a new SAM tool, or in making a compliant with your existing provider.
Things to watch out for
When picking a SAM tool, and during your contract with the vendor, make sure pushy sales people does not influence you. Like all sales professionals (apart from our very own Glenn Thompson!), they will convince you that they are top dog within the SAM tool market, and that they are the tools for your organisation. As we’ve said in previous articles, make sure you make an informed decision based on data from your environment, not from the sales pitch.
Look out for those SAM Tool vendors that only contact you during ‘renewal time’. Experience shows that some of the biggest SAM vendors neglect a number of their customers, and continue to do so. Those customers are only contacted when their maintenance is up for renewal, having had no contact over the previous year. In some cases, some customers have been on, or are on, a version of the SAM Tool that is as far back as three releases old.
Ask around on social media or at SAM/ITAM events about other people’s experiences of using certain SAM tools. There is no better advocate or critic than someone who uses the software on a daily basis. Other SAM professionals will offer invaluable advice and guidance on what SAM tool vendors provide the best and worst support. You can learn from their experiences so you ensure you do not end up in the same position.
Finally, as we always say, make sure you pick the SAM tool that is right for you and your organisation. SAM tools are an amazing piece of kit that will really help you manage your software assets, but they should be considered an asset themselves. They are not cheap, and the infrastructure needed to run and support a SAM tool may require further investment. Make the right choice!
How important is support from your SAM tool vendor to you personally, and your organisation? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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Although Support is a factor in any IT purchase what is probably more important for a SAM tool is the frequency of releases and how how issues are priorities.
If you report a bug and it takes a supplier a few days to get back you won’t care so long as they have a workaround and a patch in the near future
If they respond in 24 hours to tell you the bug will be fixed in the next release due out in 6 months that’s a different story.
When it comes to support, I would recommend organizations buying a SAM tool focus on how their defects will be prioritized, frequency of releases and the policy around patch releases.
I would also agree the release schedule for any known gaps in advance of signing support agreements.