Selling Software Asset Management to the Board

      The Federation’s Asset Management Group is made up of Audit and Asse...
benefits that SAM can bring to the organisation as a whole, and that requires selling
SAM as a compelling vision or strate...
Supporting documentation should summarise the immediate and longer term benefits of
SAM, all of which are well documented ...
A      SAM is best practice. It supports and improves multi functional processes, not just
       in IT. Software underpin...
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FASTtalk Article Selling Software Asset Management to the ....doc

  1. 1. Selling Software Asset Management to the Board The Federation’s Asset Management Group is made up of Audit and Asset Management Tool Publishers who provide expert advice and guidance to FAST Corporate Services Members. Here, they address how to prepare for your presentation to the Board For your Software Asset Management (SAM) programme to be successful, you will need to employ something that many of us may use only rarely in our working lives: the sales pitch. SAM is dependent on an organisational culture that is sympathetic to its goals and critically, on buy-in from senior business managers. Understand that in the wake of projects such as Y2K, executives may be sceptical if SAM is perceived as ‘another IT project’.Whilst you may understand the business benefits of effective SAM, in an increasingly tough economic climate you will need to be able to convince your Board that spending money upfront will lead to significant savings and benefits down the road. In order to build a compelling case, time needs to be spent gathering both internal support and supporting documentation. Think about which departments will benefit from SAM directly and indirectly. You can use this as an opportunity to find supporters (‘champions’) within the organisation that can add to your voice and weight to your proposal. Areas that may benefit from SAM include: Procurement, Change management, legal & compliance, finance & accounts, service desk and risk management. This increases the breadth of the project and therefore its importance to the organisation. Your sales pitch should ideally be split into two sections, the first is the board room presentation, the second is the elevator pitch - a condensed version of your vision, which should deliver all the key bullet points and should be contained within a 5 minute (or less) conversation. This pitch is key to winning sponsors, to gain their initial interest and make them receptive to more information and start the grooming of champion sponsors within the organisation. Document the pitch and use it as the foundation stone of the Board presentation. The first message is one of approach: remember that the aim of a perfect presentation is for your management to ask you “How long will it take you to do and how much money do you need?” Although obvious, many business cases suffer from a lack of focus or impact. Be clear: your objective is to obtain funding and support in an environment where many projects are competing for approval and scarce resources. This is why sowing the seeds within the organisation is key: at the final presentation, you want the Board to be aware of the fundamental benefits of SAM and risks involved in not undertaking such a project. Recruiting champions will help with the cynicism that may be present at board level and hopefully will allow you to focus on the business benefits to the organisation, rather than fighting a defensive battle. Your Board is unlikely to be interested in the technical arguments for SAM and they equally will not be ‘turned on’ by the list of problems that it can address. What is required is a business case firmly based upon the financial and performance
  2. 2. benefits that SAM can bring to the organisation as a whole, and that requires selling SAM as a compelling vision or strategy. Your SAM strategy is best developed by understanding the goals of the organisation. If your business has a mission statement or goals, you should adapt your pitch to demonstrate how SAM will contribute to their achievement. Examples of organisational goals that SAM can help with are: Provision of ‘world class’ services and products Increasing productivity Mitigation of business risks Reducing total cost of ownership Maximising Return on Investment So, if that is the carrot, is it possible to apply a stick? Yes, by making board members aware of the personal risk associated with ignoring the issues surrounding SAM or by bringing to their attention the positive activities of competitors. Increasingly, directors are being held personally responsible for organisational activities, whether they have direct control of them or not. This ‘vicarious liability’ means that ignorance is no longer an adequate defence. In effect, by not supporting a SAM program the organisation is being put at serious risk of financial loss and/or loss of reputation. The risk factors are something that can be championed by a board level sponsor. Look internally at executives that have supported successful quality improvement, compliance or risk management programs in the past – they may be willing to support SAM and they may well not come from ICT. This sponsor can help from a mentoring point of view, helping you understand the issues that the Board and the business face, allowing you to align your message with the business vision. If you get the formula right for persuading a senior executive to back the program then you are on course to persuade the board. If we go back to our ‘selling’ analogy, a tool that is often used very effectively in persuading us to buy a product or service is the case study or customer reference. FASTalk is a good source of these. A carefully selected case study demonstrates that SAM is providing competitive advantages to your competitors. This creates a level of peer pressure and demonstrates that SAM is an issue for other organisations. If possible select a case study whose author holds a senior position that will be recognised by your board. If your organisation subscribes to an analyst group such as Gartner (et al), you can use research information, statistics and statements, such as “…enterprises that fail to integrate software usage and inventory data to manage their software assets will overbuy licenses for 60 percent of their portfolio, and be out of compliance on 30 percent of their portfolio”… to support your business case.
  3. 3. Supporting documentation should summarise the immediate and longer term benefits of SAM, all of which are well documented by bodies such as FAST. The caveat here is to ensure that the benefits apply to your SAM strategy and therefore, by extension, to your organisational goals. The key benefits you should cover are: Potential costs savings The risks that can be mitigated Increases in productivity (e.g. software compatibility, faster service desk response times) Competitive advantage through applying best practice Improvements to working practices (e.g. change and configuration management) Improvements to operational controls The case for SAM can also be successfully integrated with the achievement of external standards and best practices to give it further credibility. The standards FSSC-1 and ISO/IEC 19770-1 are focused specifically on SAM but if your organisation is aiming to achieve other standards where there is an overlap such as ISO/IEC 17799, you may be able to leverage support from existing project managers in this area. ITIL has extended its framework to cover SAM, and with increasing interest in the employment of ‘best practice’ in the IT industry, a potential selling point for your SAM program is the implementation of this well regarded set of practices. If your organisation already follows ITIL then you should exploit the synergy there, and if not, you could explore the possibility of using SAM as a foundation on which to build further best practices. Either way, this adds weight to your case and adds depth to your SAM vision. Once you have the board’s attention it is essential that you drive home the advantage with facts. Be ready to state how long it will take and how much it will cost but expect them to also want to see details of how SAM will benefit your organisation financially or in terms of achieving its goals. Investigate why previous business cases have failed to be accepted and try and prepare answers to the common questions or objections, some of which we have highlighted below. O “Why do we need this now, we have done without it in the past” A The regulatory environment has developed significantly in recent years (Sarbanes Oxley, Basel II), and bodies such as FAST and the BSA are increasingly active. Software vendors are under more pressure to maintain their profits and licensing models are becoming more complex and prohibitive. In addition, SAM has reached a level of maturity that means that the ROI is real, and products and services are reducing the TCO. In short, the risks and benefits have become too high to ignore. O “It’s not a priority, we need to concentrate on moving the business forward”
  4. 4. A SAM is best practice. It supports and improves multi functional processes, not just in IT. Software underpins most business functions therefore managing it effectively improves productivity across the organisation. Case studies usually speak of how SAM has been a business enabler, ensuring that strategic decisions are based on facts, not guesswork. O “What are the immediate savings?” A SAM can put the organisation in a position to realise cost-savings relatively quickly. An effective discovery program can furnish management with the information it requires to ensure that software has been deployed efficiently in a matter of days, depending on the size of the organisation. If you have any software upgrade projects planned, the budgets for these can provide ammunition for your case: at the very least you will be in a position to make sure that the figures are based on accurate information. All of these methods of attracting the board’s attention have a better chance of success than simply presenting them with a list of problems. The temptation is often to present metrics, but you must always have an understanding of what appeals to your audience, and the ability to tell a compelling story in the language that they understand could make the difference between success and failure. The Asset Management Group This article has been written on behalf of The Federation’s Asset Management Group, a group of audit and asset management tool publishers who have come together to collectively provide expert advice and guidance to FAST Corporate Services members. The Group was formed in December 2003 and the current members are; ASAP Software, Centennial Software Ltd., Computer Associates UK Ltd., Deskforce Europe, Eracent Inc., Hitachi Europe Ltd., Hornbill Systems Ltd., Liken Ltd., Monactive Ltd., Novell UK, Peregrine Systems, Phoenix Software Ltd., Richmond Systems Ltd., Syncpro Ltd. and Touchpaper Software plc. Contact details for all these companies may be found on the Corporate Members’ website under FAST Programme Resources/Federation Groups or FAST Programme Resources/Supplier Directory. The Group holds regular free seminars for Corporate Members - keep a watch on the Events Circular for the next event. Any asset management tool publisher that would like more information about the Group, should contact Anne Mead, Federation Membership Manager at