Although IT asset management (ITAM) gets VERY complicated VERY quickly, the key to selecting a partner can be boiled down to two simple questions: Who do you trust? Why do you trust them?
In a recent article, Paul Sheehan argues that companies that sell software licenses cannot function as independent and objective third-parties when it comes to helping clients manage those assets. The argument has merit. But, the author also clearly states that he works for a company that does not sell licenses, but does provide ITAM services.
I work for a company that does both, so it’s not surprising that I have a differing opinion. I believe that a world-class VAR with a world-class Software Asset Management (SAM) process is the best SAM partner a customer can have.
Here are the top six reasons why it’s not only possible – but likely – that the IT asset management solutions offered by a company like SHI are second-to-none.
- SHI is not your average VAR. Under the same private ownership since 1989, SHI has the advantage of answering to only one group of key stakeholders: our customers. With a 99 percent annual customer retention rate and clients who have been with us for 10, 15, and 20 years, SHI’s account teams are never put in a position to make decisions based on meeting quarterly Wall Street expectations. Our only interest is in the health of the long-term relationship we have with our clients.
- The numbers don’t add up. A trusted VAR (a.k.a. software advisor) helps customers understand what software they really need and then helps them buy it through the best volume-licensing vehicle available. But the dirty little secret is that the resale of software licenses is done on razor-thin margins. Why would a good VAR risk the better margins/profit from long-term ITAM services just to sell a few more software licenses? The numbers just don’t add up. A bad VAR might do this … but it’ll soon be out of business.
- A proactive partner corrects mistakes before they happen. Successful large account resellers (LARs) have depth, flexibility, and proactive monitoring built into the acquisition/procurement process. Once company standards are set, SHI can either stop a “bad” purchase at the gate or immediately redeploy decommissioned licenses in order to help clients recognize cost savings. These are the keys to ensuring proactive control, management, and reporting that leads to good asset management and optimization.
- Facts are stubborn things. IT asset management is all about dealing in FACTS: How many licenses are needed? How many have been ordered? How many are currently deployed? What is the maintenance coverage? How do product use rights dictate deployment? VARs have better access to publishers through thousands of daily interactions. (SHI recently won the Microsoft Operational Excellence Award for the ninth-consecutive year.) You can’t mislead someone if you simply present them with the facts. And if you fudge the facts, you will ALWAYS be caught eventually. People might lie, but the numbers never do.
- Customers are more concerned with license optimization than license compliance. In a SAM research project jointly conducted by ITAM Review and Forrester Research, 62 percent of respondents identified “cost reduction and licensing optimization” as their organization’s primary reason for investing in SAM. (“Risk of vendor audits and fines” garnered just 17 percent.) Optimization is a continuous, full lifecycle process that aligns well with existing LAR services.
- A good VAR can deliver license management expertise cheaper and faster. License expertise is difficult to build and expensive to maintain. LARs are required to train and certify license teams in order to support customer procurement. By spreading the cost of license training and expertise across reselling and ITAM, resellers can offer significant cost savings to customers on high-quality ITAM programs.
While the phrase “buyer beware” absolutely applies when selecting your ITAM partner, the reputation and integrity of a long-term partner like SHI goes a long way toward alleviating potential conflicts of interest.