Is a Value-Added Reseller a trustworthy software asset manager?
When organizations are looking for a software asset management (SAM) service provider, how do they choose between the different types of partners?

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Why do organizations need a third-party SAM service?

Companies spend a significant portion of their IT budget on the essential software they need to function. Unfortunately, businesses, including leading corporations, are wasting their software spend on unused assets. This makes SAM a ridiculously important, yet hard-to-manage, aspect of IT. When it comes to partnering for SAM, there are generally two key triggers that lead to an organization engaging with a third party rather than trying to manage the complexities of licensing and compliance entirely in-house:

A skills gap

It requires hundreds of hours in training to stay up to date with changes in licensing, processes, and the advances in technology. Therefore, for customers with a one-, two-, or three-person team, it’s really difficult to keep up. A third-party team of experts can help to fill that skills gap and react quickly to urgent needs.

Something’s happened

Generally, businesses start looking for outside help because they’ve had a problem:

  • They’ve been through some sort of publisher audit, gotten a bill for a noncompliance event, or realized it’s too risky to manage without outside help.
  • Their software contracts are out of control, and they need help getting things back in order.

I often use an accounting analogy. Most businesses will have an internal team handling their business finances who do all the basic checks and balances. They record the information, quality check, and make sure that things are running smoothly. But then they also always have an outside firm who audits those accounts to spot the mistakes.

SHI deals with SAM using a similar principle. Companies still need to engage with the day-to-day running of their business, but we can be there to support them with our expertise and handle the legwork of analyzing all the company’s data with precision so that they can focus on their other internal needs and their customers.

What should organizations look for when choosing a SAM service?

My colleague Stephen Waugh, the ITAM and Cloud Management Sales Lead at SHI, breaks down what a good SAM service should provide into four pillars:

Pillar # 1: Discovery

The right tools to normalize discovered data.

Pillar #2: Resource

The necessary IT resources to properly implement an asset management program.

Pillar #3: Experience

An in-depth understanding of the licensing, including workflow and how to handle a compliance audit.

Pillar #4: Processes

The ability to optimize spend by tracking where and when software assets are being used.

Can organizations rely on a Value-Added Reseller to be a trusted SAM partner?

When an IT leader considers partnering with a Value-Added Reseller (VAR) as their SAM service provider, what do they need to be aware of? It’s understandable to be suspicious of the organization responsible for selling software licenses that is also offering to save the customer money on software licensing! But it doesn’t always have to be a conflict of interest. When picking a trustworthy SAM service, it really comes down to two things:

  1. How has the company structured itself?
  2. Are they giving the best advice?

Company structure

Essentially every VAR, at some stage in the process of doing business with its customers, is looking to cover their costs and make a profit. From a general reseller perspective, most of them have their sales team and an asset management team side by side. This creates scenarios in which trust becomes critical. Is the reseller working on behalf of the vendor, themselves, or do they have the customer’s best interest in mind?

At SHI, we secure each customer’s custom-built SAM report and analysis. Each organization has complete control over how, and with whom, that information is shared.

Ten to fifteen years ago, many resellers were operating in vendor-funded programs, in which they were finding license shortfalls, telling the vendor, and then immediately selling a company software licenses as a result. Essentially, they were acting as an SAM service but benefiting from the sale of the software as well. There is a clear conflict of interest here.

At this point customers may be scratching their heads and wondering, “Who can I trust with my data?”

The best advice

Although the market has matured since the days of vendors selling licenses on the back of compliance programs, organizations that are investigating SAM services for the first time are still nervous about using VARs for SAM. For this reason, they may think it safer to use independent consulting firms or SAM services provided by tool vendors or accounting firms. But they could be missing out.

When customers choose SHI, they not only benefit from our experienced SAM team but also receive access to highly trained licensing experts. Between them, they understand the licensing intricacies of thousands of products from mega-vendors like Microsoft and IBM to smaller, emerging software providers.

At SHI, customer data is uploaded to a cloud environment, processed, and then deleted. Reports are held in the cloud and accessible only to named individuals on the customer side and the consultants working on the customer’s account. When we produce SAM analyses for a customer, we only give our findings to the customer. We provide reports directly to the client, who reviews them and decides what information they want to share. If they want to give that to a different reseller, they’re in control.

Why are SHI’s SAM services an ideal fit?

SHI’s SAM services are provided through our ITAM business, which functions as an independent service provider within the larger business. Our size and scale allow us to focus on providing advice and recommending the most efficient approach, providing advice on business processes, and how to make improvements to SAM processes.

We don’t want a quick transaction and then to never do business with an organization again. Our goal is to be ridiculously helpful and look after our customers for an extraordinarily long period of time.

Over the course of my twenty-year career in IT, I’ve spent seventeen specializing in SAM. At SHI, I’m proud of the depth and breadth of knowledge that we can share with our customers. The goal of our ITAM business is to help organizations reduce their cost and risk by managing their IT hardware and software assets. A critical part of mitigating that risk involves protecting each organization’s data and giving our customers the best independent advice.

Contact us to discover how SHI can help your organization manage your IT assets, improve governance, and reduce costs.