The 6 Best Practice Pillars of a SAM Guru

Software asset management is a difficult job at the best of times, and it can be thankless for SAMs who lack the necessary support from management. To be a true SAM guru employing best practices, you must master six conceptual pillars. If any of these pillars are missing from your SAM strategy, you will likely experience problems with license coverage and compliance, or software licensing overspend.

So, what are these pillars, and what do they mean?

1. Ownership

At the heart of software asset management is a complete understanding of the assets held. The pillar is mastered by answering the most basic question: “What do you have?”

The would-be SAM guru needs to conduct a full audit of all the licenses held, whether the applications are actually used or not. Only by understanding exactly what is owned, will the guru be able to plan deployments – and future maintenance and support negotiations.

The Pillar of Ownership needs to be regularly maintained too. The results of the audit need to be constantly updated to reflect new software acquisitions – or if a particular product has been retired and the licenses disposed of.

2. Usage

The second pillar of SAM guru status involves understanding which applications are in use and how they are being used. These insights are crucial, allowing you to see:

  • Where newer licenses are not being used, providing opportunities to upgrade users who would benefit from new features.
  • Applications that are under-used, and which could be deployed more intelligently to reduce the number of licenses held.

These usage insights will also prove useful when negotiating maintenance contracts for your applications, helping your support partner plan and cost their services more accurately.

3. Plans

Digital transformation programs and shifting operational priorities will have a direct effect on the applications used by your business. To ensure that IT supports these goals, the SAM guru has a plan to ensure that users always have the applications and support they need to be productive.

Typically these plans will balance vendor demands to upgrade applications periodically, with the needs and preferences of users who may not need new features and “bloat”, who may even find unnecessary upgrades impair productivity. And as always, controlling costs will be a major determining factor in these licensing plans.

4. Contracts

As well as knowing which applications are licensed and used by their business, the SAM guru will have a deep understanding of the contracts that govern support and maintenance for each. Obviously keeping all that information filed away mentally is unlikely, but the SAM guru will have complete records for each, highlighting key details like renewal dates, costs, and license count.

Using their exceptional understanding of how software is used within the business, the SAM manager is now better equipped to renegotiate future contracts – particularly where licenses held outnumber the people using an application. The SAM guru is also fully informed, ready to hold meaningful discussions with third party support providers who offer keener maintenance pricing than the OEM.

5. Control

The age of on-demand access to software and resources has forced the SAM guru to develop exceptional powers of control. Armed with their understanding of license count and install base, they can arrange for applications to be deployed with 100% accuracy.

By exercising increased control of software assets, the SAM guru effectively guarantees compliance of every application across your entire business. As always, accurate records of license count and installations will be key.

6. Versions

The organic acquisition and deployment of software means that most businesses are using multiple versions of key applications. These variations are tolerated because of user preference, cost control, or compatibility problems with other systems.

Whatever the reasons, a SAM guru is able to manage multiple software versions and any contractual/compliance variations smoothly. They will also work closely with the CTO to develop a software strategy that maps out potential upgrade plans. The SAM guru can then plan budget and license requirements to support strategy and help keep the business moving forwards.

What if your SAM is not a guru?

Although it is possible for an individual to master all six pillars, the reality is that most don’t. This is not necessarily a problem however, so long as the SAM manager has an experienced team to assist and support them.

At Origina, our SAM gurus can help you improve software licensing compliance for one of the many vendors you use, IBM, so please get in touch. Our ‘light-touch’ Feasibility Assessment will close any gaps you may have with your IBM SW and help you understand if third party support is an option for you and your business.

The Complete Guide to IBM Third-Party Software Support lays out the risks and benefits of using an independent third-party support provider like Origina to maintain IBM software.


A 2022 Gartner Report calls third-party support and maintenance a “quick win” and offers ways to assess whether it is the right move for you.

Origina and SecAlliance are delivering increased security for IBM third-party software maintenance beyond the standard security patch.

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