I’ve had a number of discussions recently with clients who are trying or planning to recruit Software Asset Managers. Even those who use service providers for much of the SAM support they need often prefer to have some in-house expertise to manage the governance and the relationship with their service provider. However, it turns out that recruiting skilled and experienced SAM professionals isn’t that easy. Recruiting managers simply can’t find experienced SAM practitioners, and when they do find them they are often too expensive, or simply looking for a stepping stone to more lucrative role.
The significant growth in SAM investment in recent years has meant a huge demand for experienced SAM resources from a limited pool of experienced professionals. This in turn has driven salaries up (no bad thing if you’re on the receiving end of this upward trend!) and meant that for many organisations dedicated resources are becoming unaffordable. IT JobsWatch reports an increase in advertised salaries for Software Asset Managers of 65% for the three months to February 2014 compared with the same period in 2013.
Talking to both clients and recruiters, it seems that salaries are part of the problem. For organisations that use the Hay Job Evaluation methodology or similar to assess salary bands, SAM roles often come out at a lower level than recruiting managers expect. Rather than being a problem with the methodology, this appears to be because HR departments have little or no experience of SAM roles and don’t understand what they involve, so may match them inappropriately based on the data they have.
Sean Robinson, in his article for the ITAM Review ‘How do SAM managers spend their time?’ suggested that “60% of SAM managers spend most of their time on tasks that can be automated today (37% on license reconciliation and 23% on inventory”). This may explain why HR often align SAM with unskilled administrative roles rather than skilled technical or analytical roles.
When creating new job descriptions, its important to emphasize the skills needed to do the job rather than the tasks involved, and to ensure that HR departments that are grading the roles and agreeing salary bands have as much information as possible to help them get this right. Providing details of similar roles advertised with salary details always helps, as does understanding the way that the assessment works and creating a role profile that reflects the value of the job being assessed. Merlin Corp’s 2011 salary survey may be a useful source of supporting data for some roles.
Last year, in response to increasing demand from clients for details of the skills and experience needed within a SAM team, the number of people were needed and how to go about structuring and recruiting a team, I worked with colleagues to publish a couple of job description toolkits. One for ITAM and one for SAM. In creating these job description templates and the supporting material, we focused on encouraging flexibility in solving the resource problems (for example, many clients may source hard to find expertise from a SAM service provider), and providing material to support their sourcing decisions.
So how are you impacted by the SAM skills shortage, and what tactics have you used to address the problem?
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