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Excellence Awards Profile: SAM at Roche; Think big, start small

The SAM team at Roche won the ITAM Review Project of the Year 2016 in our Excellence Awards in November. In this article George Arezina shares the story behind the Roche win. Thanks to George and team for sharing their journey. 


An established global leader in research focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, F. Hoffmann La Roche AG (Roche) has stood for excellence since 1896.


An established global leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, F. Hoffmann La Roche AG (Roche) has stood for excellence since 1896.

Beginning in 2012, Roche initiated plans for a Software Asset Management (SAM) program that would span their 91,000+ global employees, accessing 30,000 servers and 115,000 desktops. Through strategic planning and a phased approach, Roche hit ROI goals in less than 18 months.

George Arezina, Head of SAM at Roche, brought tremendous first-hand expertise. As the former Head of Global License Operations at DHL, he constructed a large-scale SAM program that lowered costs, reduced risk, and provided optimal flexibility.

Four main goals were outlined for the SAM initiative. At the top of the list were eliminating software non-compliance payments and litigation costs, as well as retrieval and redeployment of unused licenses (Pool Management). Additionally, improving forecast demand accuracy, and implementing standard global processes and tools to automate license control were paramount.

Taking an incremental and pragmatic approach, Roche defined a clear-cut mission for the SAM@Roche project:

  • Provide global software license services and optimisation
  • Reduce the total cost ownership
  • Ensure compliance and pro-active management

A six phase strategy

George Arezina

George Arezina | Group IT Procurement | Head of Global Software Asset Management (SAM) | F-Hoffmann La Roche AG

SAM@Roche developed a six-phased execution strategy over the next 4 years. Desktop Software would be prioritised in the first two phases, followed by the more complex – but offering deeper potential savings, Server/Data Centers in the next two phases. The final phases would integrate SAP and Sales Force (phase 5) and Mobile Software (phase 6).

Within each stage, accurate data collection and organization was key. The team aligned corporate support across the organization to effectively communicate SAM benefits. By determining the project scope, dissecting it into manageable chunks, and ensuring investment from key players, the SAM@Roche project built a foundation for success.

The SAM team began searching for a state-of-the-art tool with full software license metric capability, a software recognition, SKU and product use rights catalog, a global software license repository, simple interfaces with software lifecycle processes, and easy integration with existing ITAM tools. For surpassing these criteria, SAM@Roche chose Aspera’s SmartTrack SAM tool.

These comprehensive SAM processes propelled Roche to ROI in under 18 months. Roche achieved more than 20m CHF in savings from license demand, and more than 70m CHF in demand savings since 2014 – saving approximately 8m CHF in compliance claims. Within the first 36 months, ROI was exceeded ten times.

Company culture saw a corresponding shift. Roche encourages employees to work sustainably, and the savings from that approach are used to fund future clinical trials, enabling the company to produce life-saving medications. The recognized financial savings achieved through SAM play a key role in that effort.

In 2016, Roche received credentials from an independent Group IT Audit. It declared their delivery of a stable foundation and comprehensive SAM system that would bring significant benefits to Roche in the future.

ITAM Review Excellence Award Winner – Project of the year 2016

“The Roche project was successfully built and executed whilst recognising all of the critical people, process and technology elements that are essential in building a world class SAM practice. This project was led by an experienced professional SAM team who delivered enormous savings and outstanding ROI. We congratulate the team at Roche for demonstrating what is possible with SAM.”  

Read more about our excellence awards here.

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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.

One Comment

  1. Anthony Berrios says:

    How many resources did the team have?

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