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Why Software vendor onboarding?

Contract and Service Management have their own means of welcoming a supplier into their fold, but what should SAM be doing to facilitate a smooth onboarding experience for software titles and vendors?

At the software title level, tips and tricks in and around this process include:

  • Be clear about how the contract terms translate into what licences you need to buy and how they match with what you are going to deploy – so get that ratified with the vendor before you take on the weight of providing audit and compliance data.
  • Know what good looks like: what does a default installation of the vendor’s software look like in your SAM Suite? Do you know that level of recognition down to version and edition of software titles? What about those adjacent management packs and data options?
  • Your negotiation team have moved heaven and earth to secure bespoke terms and conditions of use for a vendor’s software: ensure those unique T&Cs are included in the contract AND reflected in your SAM suite so that any compliance calculations don’t miss out on that hard work.

But in this process, we take a step beyond managing individual software titles to looking at vendors holistically.

Of course, this begs the question, why not just focus on onboarding software titles individually? After all, licenses generally cover just one software title or a specific bundle of titles. Why wouldn’t we pay most attention to those software titles which are expensive and / or widespread through your organisation irrespective of who owns the IP? Surely these are the ones which might start causing you problems?

The short answer is that it’s vendors that audit, and when they do so, they audit ALL their published software titles that they find on your estate. And of course, often it’s the little-used or obscure software titles in the vendor’s portfolio that cause the most kerfuffle and angst during an audit!

The longer answer also takes into consideration the principles of strategic vendor management – applying a vendor-focused lens when introducing new software titles into the organisation helps you spot when your relationship with a vendor is changing. Perhaps they are moving from a commodity vendor (you pay them a lot of money, but only because you have to) to a strategic vendor (you are starting to partner with them to get the most out of their exciting new products). A shift like this can change completely the way you work with that vendor.

For example, on a contractual level, rather than just signing on the dotted line for a certain number of licenses, perhaps you might be able to leverage that existing large spend to get the vendor to provide some consulting or training to help your organisation adopt the new software title or functionality you’ve just bought to put your organisation in a better position to realise the benefits that drove the business case for the new software in the first place.

It is also quite common for some software vendors, often SaaS publishers, to initially provide a useful but small scale service, which suddenly becomes viral across the organisation as everyone catches on to how great they are. Keeping an eye on credit card spend and SaaS discovery tools can help you work out when a blip on your radar is starting to turn into something major so you can engage with the vendor implement needed access controls to manage subscriptions more effectively as well as negotiate with the vendor to reduce unit costs so everyone benefits from the growing scale.

From a risk perspective, we already discussed the fact that it’s vendors that audit, so making sure you have all software titles for a particular vendor under management is a no-brainer. Ensuring you include even insignificant software titles in your license management processes means you are less likely to have nasty surprises if you are audited.

On the other hand, shifts in what software you are purchasing from a vendor may in fact reduce your audit risk. For instance, you might find that turning a commodity vendor into a strategic vendor actually reduces the chances of an audit, because the vendor doesn’t want to risk rocking the boat – and anyway, vendor audits are generally about revenue, and if you’re building a strategic partnership with the vendor then they will have their eye on the long term revenue the partnership will generate, rather than a short term one-off audit boost.

So the message is, don’t just focus on onboarding software titles. Taking a step back to look at the bigger picture and understand where the relationship with that vendor is heading can bring significant benefits to your organisation.

Related Processes and Courses

Vendor Onboarding Process

We define the correct management procedures for software and software vendors which have been approved by the Software Approval process. This includes the definition of a service management wrap for the application or vendor, as well as defining the procedures and tools required to manage the licenses.

£79.96 + VAT