One of the first steps to take when building a SAM program is establishing how to gather and manage your licensing contracts. This can be quite a confusing and daunting task, so here are five tips to get it you up and running. From there on you should be able to create a “care and feeding” program to maintain the results of your hard work.
1) Where to start? Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was your license contract management system. The task of collecting, consolidating, and archiving all of your contracts can seem overwhelming at first. Start with the low hanging fruit. By doing this you can get some quick victories and build morale. Is your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement pretty clear with definite start and end dates? Begin with entering that into your tool of choice. At the same time, get your team together. Remember, license contract management is a combination of people, processes and tools. Start by getting these in order.
2) Identify your stakeholders? The gatekeepers of licensing knowledge vary from company to company. Is procurement more adept at hunting down contracts? Does the Service Desk have its finger on the pulse of your software agreements? Will internal audit have well defined processes for how contracts should be managed? Do you have a SAM owner or group that is familiar with licensing rules? Find your team of invested players and help them work toward a common goal. Also, make sure to secure executive support at whatever level necessary to bring them together.
3) Have a solution in mind. What do you want your results to look like? Do you want you contracts easily accessible so you can update and manage them? Do you want notifications for when they are about to expire, be it 30 days, 60 days, 90 days out? You probably, in a nutshell, want to make sure that you never waste time or money looking for contract or supplier information again. It’s a good bet you also want to make sure you don’t renew or pay for licenses you don’t need or are no longer using. “Begin with the end in mind.”
While you can’t rewrite every shoddily constructed contract you come across, be proactive in addressing any immediate compliance risks that your company might be vulnerable to.
5) Continuous improvement. Like any system, license contract management needs attention and care. Don’t make the mistake of creating a good solution with people, processes and tools in place and then neglect it. Make sure that you set aside time on a regular basis to maintain your system. Be flexible. As licensing rules become more complex, you will need to have a firm handle on what your software agreements contain. Don’t be afraid to pull in new team members as the success of your project grows and changes with time.
Once you have these five steps in practice, you should be well on your way to a successful license contract management system that meets you and your company’s needs.