What do ITSM and SAM have to offer each other?



Many of us working in the IT sphere have heard about ITSM and the ITIL Framework that puts best practise into wording. There are plenty of other frameworks and manifestos that also claim their piece to describe the same and other parts of IT’s reality. In this wealth of solutions and beliefs, I do miss a more wide spread discussion on one, in my view critical, part of IT.

The part that for most organisations stands for the same amount of money as personnel, i.e. their software expenditure. For most industries it stands for 30% of their IT budget and with an ongoing digitalisation and service-orientation, this has been and will be increasing. So in my view how to manage this part of IT effectively and efficiently deserves a spot among the books on DevOps, Agile, etc.


Because whether it’s a traditional purchased client-application, a hired server-license or some cloud solution, the way we need to manage these assets is still the same. The legal, financial, architectural and operational implications are as demanding and IT needs to deliver their part in a cost efficient and value-adding manner.


I am by far an IT Asset or License expert, but I do know that doing the right things in the right way benefits the business and bottom line. And this requires working with people, processes and tools, managing change. I had the opportunity to work with Software Asset Management issues for the first time some 6 years ago. Having worked a few years with ITSM and with some background in ISO9001 and CRM, our newly appointed License Manager and I embarked on a journey with the appropriate ISO Standard in our bags. As we proceeded a number of things became apparent to us:


-        An organisation can only take in a certain amount of new terminology and adapt to new ways of working. Managing organisational change for SAM is as critical as for ITSM. SAM affects all users in an organisation! Be considered.


-        Clear governance, stipulating policies, objectives, roles, responsibility and mandates is critical


-        A number of processes defined by the ISO 19770-1 are in principle the same as what ITIL describes. It would be a waste of time and resources not to make sure to incorporate SAM requirements into the existing ITSM processes.


-        In particular working with (Software) Asset identification and control, shows how determined one has to be if/when embarking on Configuration Management with probably an even larger scope.


-        Another area of SAM that plays a forefront role is Supplier and Contract Management. Handle it well and it will serve you well


-        At that time acquiring knowledge and sharing experience on SAM seemed, compared to the ITSM/ITIL community, almost non-existing or only available through software vendors.


-        Then also tools for inventory, metering, etc. to help SAM were in an early stage of the hype cycle. Good enough to support specific tasks for License Management, but not management tools that can streamline workflows and decision making.


Due to organisational changes we both engaged in other challenges, but while years passed these thoughts remained in the back of my mind. The last 2 years as an ITSM consultant I have had the opportunity to meet with many more organisations and it is clear that many still struggle (more or less conscious) with ITSM and SAM duties and initiatives not being synced.


While SAM overall was clearly less mature 6 years ago, it has gained traction. Then the methods and concepts to extend the ISO standard came primarily from the vendor side like Microsoft’s MOF. Now there is a recognised independent framework from IAITAM and the tools to support it have improved considerably. At the same time more and more the broader term ITAM is being used instead of SAM, including all IT-related Assets, like hardware, in the approach. And for what it’s worth it, ITIL has clearly sated SAM/ITAM is a critical element of successful IT Service Management.


While ITIL/ITSM, with all right, talks a lot about the importance of organisational capabilities, SAM has a much stronger case for why these should be up to specs: incompliance has tangible legal and direct financial consequences. So while audits (external or internal) can be regarded by some as a blessing to tidy things up once every now and then, the more mature License and Software Asset Managers whish for a more continuous management and continual improvement: to build and manage organisational capability. Within logistics no one closes down a distribution centre to do a yearly inventory. Stock taking is performed daily and integrated with other logistic duties.


The need for management of change becomes evident. Nothing major, rather an evolution that actually also can enrich the ITSM practises of an organisation and help to quantify benefits in monetary terms and risk management, something the CFO will like.


It means taking advance of existing implementation and process capabilities by involving for example your Service Level Manager(s) and Change Manager(s) in the adoption of existing processes to specific requirements from SAM. And be aware the benefits are in either direction: While adding SAM-oriented Change Models will help to make the “ITSM-based” Change Management more complete, data from Incidents and Service Requests will give an extra dimension to Asset data, when meeting suppliers during renegotiations.


This does indicate a certain maturity of the IT organisation, to be able to take advantage of the ITSM capabilities for SAM. But any CIO with a long term vision and strategy to contribute to the bottom line should include the opportunity given by matching these 2 practices once passed the phase of establishment.

//Maarten Merckx
Verksamhetskonsult på Olingo Consulting och ITIL utbildare hos Informator


Vill du lära dig mer om SAM kopplat till ITIL? Då är kursen  ITIL Lifecycle -Service Transition ett steg i rätt riktning. Klicka här för att se hela Informators utbud inom ITIL och ITSM.

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