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How to onboard with a SAM Managed Service provider and de-risk implementation

This article is the fourth and final part of a four part series by Martin Thompson of The ITAM Review and Hugh Skingley of Livingstone.

The series explores Building the Business Case for SAM Managed Services

In this final article, we explore how to get started and on-board with a new SAM Managed Services engagement.

Use this checklist to avoid the common pitfalls of implementation and ensure a smooth and collaborative relationship.

SAM Managed Services On-Boarding Checklist

Has a kick-off meeting been arranged to engage with the key stakeholders involved? 

This is a good opportunity to review the statement of work and goals of the service – especially for those operational stakeholders who might not have been involved in the sales process when the SAM Managed Services provider was chosen. You (the customer) will have certain responsibilities and it is in the interest of both parties to have these clarified.

The agenda should include:

  • What is needed for the service to be successful?
  • Why the service is being delivered and a reinforcement of the benefits to the company so that stakeholders are fully engaged.
  • Agreement of Roles and responsibilities.
  • Identification of roadblocks (particularly IT and data security).
  • Key delivery and meeting dates.
  • Service governance activities (including escalations).

Have major milestones for the project been agreed?

For a purely licensing-centric SAM service this is likely to be focused on a) Generating an ELP and b) Maintaining an ELP for chosen software publishers. To use the terminology from Practical ITAM: Take-off and maintaining cruising altitude. Also ensure that the sign off process for an ELP or other primary deliverables has been agreed, typically involving a draft, check/refine and sign off process.

Is our SAM Managed Service partner aware of the major events in our company calendar?

This might include compelling licensing related events such as renewal dates, reporting cycles, major initiatives underway at the company, major upgrades or projects and strategically important times. The service provider will work from the information you provide them with – if you don’t know these dates this is also a good opportunity to make business contacts and become more strategic and forward looking.

You wouldn’t want your managed service partner gathering data for a system you plan to terminate; or planning for service deliveries when a pre-Christmas trading lockdown is planned.

Have minimum service levels been agreed? What happens in the event of an escalation?  

Roles and responsibilities for data provision should be agreed and formally documented. The service provider will need to plan resources to work on your account: not having data available due to failures on your side puts you in a poor position.

Let’s say it is agreed that internal teams will generate inventory of at least 90% of the estate to fulfill the service – what happens if this is not reached or there is some other shortfall in data or permissions required to complete the service to an agreed standard?

The service provider could be left twiddling their thumbs, freewheeling, because they lack sufficient data to get the job done.

Answer the questions: How will it be escalated? And to whom shall it be escalated?

Has the software publisher volume and sequence been agreed?

Let’s say the SAM Managed Service Provider is contracted to deliver and maintain a compliance position for your top thirty software publishers – will they do all thirty at once? Will they complete five at a time in priority order? Will one be completed after another sequentially?

The other side of the coin is: Can you actually service the agreed volume and sequence internally? Some complex, campus wide agreements with vendors such as Microsoft might need up to twenty data points to maintain compliance, have you got the internal resource and authority to deliver against these requirements? A partner can deliver a Microsoft ELP in a week, or a month, or three months – depending on the availability of information required and complexity of the environment.

Has the data gathering and refinement process been agreed?

Collecting data, for both inventory and entitlement, will typically involve the establishment of a baseline, then continual comparison, enrichment and refinement over time. How will this be achieved and what data sources shall be used?

What will happen in the event that the service needs to be changed?

Has the Managed Service provider agreed flexibility in the contract for the future, in the event of changing requirements? What if the service does very well and the scope needs to be changed? What if gathering information is more difficult than planned? What happens if the business goal posts change?

Finally, what process shall be followed for reviewing the service?

Have monthly or quarterly service governance meetings been scheduled to review progress, performance checked against key metrics and new  improvements discussed? How will you work collaboratively with the SAM Managed Service partner to stay on track and deliver against your broader ITAM goals?

This is a great opportunity to involve senior management to both review the performance of the service against contract and present the outputs of the service to date – this level of meeting helps focus the minds of all parties involved.

Livingstone has built a SAM calculator for simulating these costs over a three-year period. Download a copy here (Registration Required). 

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.

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