If your procurement process is tracking manufacturer part numbers for your software purchases you are, theoretically a minimum of, currently in a strong position in identifying what software you are entitled to. We simply have to wed up your procurement history with exactly what is in usage and set up within your environment. Unfortunately it is easier said than done.
Common sense would state that, much like the supermarket, every item in the shop must have an universal product code on it so everybody knows the best ways to identify it. In a perfect world we would whizz around your network with a software bar code reader and tally up all of your installs.
Unfortunately, although software manufacturers use SKUs internally, on their packaging and within their supply chain it is commonly missing from the actual usage.
Software Recognition vs. SKU Catalogues
Software recognition is not the like a SKU Catalogue. A SKU Catalogue usually includes software recognition and normalisation. Software recognition is the process of recognizing and normalising technical configuration management technical lingo into recognisable item names and item families. SKU catalogues also perform software recognition but strengthen the license management process by also normalising procurement data and linking it with installed software data to ensure software is being used in accordance with the product use rights.
When you attempt to marry the worlds of technical configuration management and procurement the challenge is to find a common denominator between the two sets of data– the SKU is that unique identifier. Installed software has technical characteristics that can be lined up to a SKU and in turn the SKU can be married to the correct procurement record. The SKU catalogue is the lookup table, the meta data and the intelligence behind this process.
The SKU catalogue provides a mechanism for filtering, double-checking and maintaining accuracy in SAM processes.
It forces good practice and accuracy– e.g. it is not possible for a Microsoft Select based SKU installed on your network to be aligned to a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement contract in your procurement system. The incompatibility prevents errors and ensures companies are certified properly. The SKU catalogue is the lynchpin and translator between the different complex languages of setup management, product terms and procurement.
Justifying Investments in SKU Catalogues
The main business benefits of utilizing a SKU catalogue are:.
Less reliance on discovery devices— SKU catalogues also perform software recognition and can therefore work with more primitive inventory and numerous systems management sources. Broad network protection is still required to ensure discovery and inventory data is exhaustive and you’ll need some way of mapping physical to virtual relationships.
Time and money Saved on costly license management resource.
Data accuracy (less errors, much better results, trustworthy data).
What to Look For
- Organizations with years and years of procurement data could wish to focus on by contract, renewal or vendor to lighten the implementation process with SKU catalogues.
- Not all vendors make use of SKUs.
- Some suppliers have SKUs but it is not always possible to audit and collect inventory for them– particularly for data center suppliers.
- Suppliers with SKU brochures consist of Aspera, BDNA and Flexera.
- Some SAM tool vendors say ‘We do SKUs’ which means they have field in their SAM tool for manual entry of a SKU number. Having a field for a SKU number in a license management tool is not the same as using a SKU catalogue. The true value of a SKU catalogue is referencing the Meta data associated with it not the storage of the SKU itself. You are using a reference table built from the intelligence of hundreds or thousands of other applications.
- Some SKU catalogues link SKU to item use rights but not software recognition– which is kind of like having a very intelligent universal product code reader which will not scan anything.
- Some SKU brochures only cover the huge volume titles (Adobe, Microsoft, Symantec) and not every single software publisher. No solution on the market is perfect or 100 % exhaustive.
- The proof of the pudding is in the eating– SAM vendors with good SKU based offerings should be able to benchmark your raw procurement data (with SKUs) against raw inventory data to build a picture very quickly.
- With fear of telling you how to draw eggs– Buy software and services based on a proven working model rather than PowerPoint and contrived demonstration. If you have not got the time or inclination to finish a durable proof of concept then just buy on a service basis with a concrete SLA.
RMS Consulting is a team of experienced technical and business professionals whose single aim is to deliver the world’s best retail management systems. We understand the needs and deliver cloud-based, multi-channel retail management system that brings together POS, eCommerce, CRM and marketing, merchandising and order management, financials, and warehouse management into a single centrally managed solution. RMS Consulting serves client inside North America specifically USA and Canada while physically serving clients in the cities of Seattle, Toronto, Buffalo, Ottawa, Monreal, London, Kitchener, Windsor, Detroit. Feel free to contact us or Drop us a note for any help or assistance.
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