A Microsoft Volume Licensing Expert Answers your Burning Questions on Microsoft Software Asset Management (SAM)

Implementing a software asset management (SAM) program can be beneficial. This is especially true if your organization struggles to keep track of any of its software or licenses, or if you have many different computers and devices to inventory.

Heather Young, Global Director, SAM Programs at Microsoft, has answered three questions below on SAM that you may find useful. Specifically, her answers provide information about SAM Services, choosing a SAM partner and the common need to reconcile assets after acquisitions. Her answers include information on licensing as it relates to SAM.

Q: I’ve recently joined a new business and we don’t have any mechanisms in place to track our software inventory. How do I get started with SAM? What are my options and how can Microsoft and your partners help me?

Heather: Through the SAM Services program, Microsoft makes proactive SAM assistance available to customers around the world through our Gold SAM Competency partners.  Customers who are looking for help receive customized consulting, tools, and resources through these highly trained, qualified partners to help give you a head start on implementing best practices for software asset management. You can even decide where you want to focus, based on your organization’s situation.  If you need help making sense of your current license entitlements or reviewing whether you’re buying software in the most cost-effective way, you should consider a SAM Baseline.  Customers who want to understand how their existing internal SAM program is doing (or where to start in creating one) might find a SAM Assessment provides them with the information they need to get started and focus efforts where they’ll have the most impact. If you need help selecting an inventory tool and creating a centralized inventory, then SAM Deployment Planning is a good choice.

Q:  My organization has grown recently through acquisition and has had trouble keeping track of all the software and licenses we’ve acquired in the process. How do I determine if we are still using our software budget in the most efficient way possible?

Heather: This is a scenario where a SAM Baseline can provide exactly what you need in order to ensure you’re optimizing your licenses, and getting the maximum benefit from available programs.  A Microsoft SAM partner can help collect an accurate inventory and matching it with purchases and licensing records, to provide a consolidated, comprehensive view.  They can also make recommendations on whether there are alternate ways to buy going forward that may help lower your costs, or will provide assurance that you’re on the right path. This can take as little as 2 weeks and can be used as part of budget planning or can be incorporated into your strategic IT roadmap. You can see a case study on how a SAM Baseline helped Carousel Industries after rapid growth through acquisition in our blog post: Microsoft Software Asset Management (SAM) Helps Handle Growth, Update Licensing (case study).

Q: I need help from outside my company with SAM. How do I find a qualified Microsoft partner to help me, and what qualifications should I look for?

Heather: In order to become a Microsoft SAM Partner, organizations must demonstrate their expertise in both licensing and SAM related topics.  Gold SAM Partners have differentiated themselves with additional expertise on Microsoft’s inventory tools (like SCCM or MAP) as well as process.  Microsoft has made information available online to help you choose a SAM Partner via our database of SAM Partner listings and get additional background information on the program from our SAM Partners page. You may also want to check out the latest winners of our SAM Partner of the Year awards.  Here are some guidelines for choosing a partner:

  • Does the SAM partner bring value to you, the process, and your company by providing valuable experience and knowledge about SAM?
  • Does the SAM partner have a core competency in understanding complex software license agreements and their legal ramifications?
  • Does the SAM partner have a good understanding of the latest deployment and use scenarios?
  • If you are using Microsoft technologies, is the SAM partner in the Microsoft SAM Competency?  Can they also help me with any non-Microsoft portions of my environment?
  • Beyond the initial engagement, how can the SAM partner provide assistance in implementing any recommended technologies, processes, or other tools?

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Editor’s Note: Remember, always check with your account representative or partner on any terms, restrictions or other that may apply within SAM. The answers and examples provided above make assumptions that may not apply to your unique situation and are primarily designed to serve as a guide.