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Yes, you read that headline correctly. I am encouraging you to listen to Oracle if you want to transform your SAM practice. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. I do need to clarify what I’m saying. I’m not recommending you listen to Oracle and invite in the LMS auditors or the stealth auditors called SIA (Oracle’s software investment advisors). That could be disastrous. Those folks are trained to find problems and exploit them to drive revenue. They are not there to help you fix problems at the lowest cost to Oracle.

What I am talking about is that you should really take Oracle’s advice when it comes to transforming your software and cloud compliance business processes.  We spend a lot of time talking about the negatives of Oracle’s licensing and contracting, but Oracle actually gives really good advice when it comes to companies trying to undergo business transformations. Oracle says you should simplify, standardize, centralize, AND THEN automate. There is a great article with all the details on this process. When I was at Oracle I heard this talk a hundred times and I gave this talk a hundred times. I still give this talk because it makes sense.

Companies of all sizes struggle with managing their on-premise software and cloud licenses. Technology vendors know this. The fact is, the more software and cloud services you use, the more vendors you have to deal with, the more complexity in contracts and metrics, the more likely it is that you are out of compliance. Some large companies have to manage over 100 technology vendors and their contracts and licensing. It’s very easy for that to get out of hand and for you to get caught out of compliance. Even the most well-meaning and diligent companies will go non-compliant. If you use technology, it’s only a matter of time.

Given that these are technology contracts and licenses we are talking about, the non-compliance risks often fall on the IT departments. When the vendor audits, it’s the IT department that usually manages that audit, and it’s the IT department that often pays the bill when there is a problem. Because it’s IT in the vendor’s crosshairs, what do you think is the first thing IT does to manage their software and cloud problems? That’s right, they look to buy more software!!! Now they have yet another piece of technology to manage! They go straight to Automate, and they miss Simplify, Standardize, and Centralize.

You can’t blame IT departments for trying to automate this problem away. After all, automation is their world. The problem is trying to automate a complex, variable, and disjointed process. Going straight to automate will leave you with a false sense of security that will cause even more problems when the vendors come in with their audit armies.

Having tools in place to manage your software and cloud licensing is not a bad thing. In fact, having real-time access to data can help you make very good decisions for your company and avoid the traps that vendors set for you. The problem is not using technology. The problem is trying to solve this problem by STARTING with technology. Technology should be the last step in your SAM practice development, not the first step.

There is not a single software or cloud package that will resolve your SAM issues with all your technology vendors. I spend my day in the Oracle ecosystem helping our clients with Oracle licensing challenges. I can say without a doubt that there is no tool (not even those certified by Oracle) that will give you a compliance position for 90% of Oracle’s products. If you use Oracle, and you are trying to resolve your compliance challenges by starting with a tool, you are going to be in a world of hurt.

Our clients often come to us looking for guidance as they fix their broken compliance processes. The most challenging scenarios are when we are brought in to help in this transformation and the customer announces that “this project should be easy because we just bought a tool to help us manage our licenses!” In those cases, I know I have to walk the client back to our standardized process first and get off of the automation piece. Starting your SAM transformation with a tool is like a surgeon starting her procedure with a hammer. At some point, a surgeon might need a hammer (yes they use hammers in surgery!) but that’s not where you want to start.

Before starting Palisade, I spent 16 years at Oracle where I helped to transform their contracts teams. We used this mantra of: simplify, standardize, centralize, and automate. In fact, at Palisade, we still employ that methodology when facing internal transformation challenges as well as advising our clients on their SAM transformations.  With over 300 clients around the world, Palisade leverages our deep transformational expertise and can guide you to a more optimized SAM practices that reduces your risks and optimizes your investments. For more information, please contact us.

Thanks for your time and good luck simplifying, standardizing, centralizing, and then automating!

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