With 225 years of trading experience, Man Group plc has evolved into one of the world’s largest independent alternative investment managers, driven by an objective to deliver strong and stable returns for investors. Headquartered in London with some 1300 employees worldwide, the business is responsible for managing $54.8 billion of investments (as at 31st March) and is part of the FTSE 250 Index.
For a global operation like Man, strict cost management is fundamental to its business. With a considerable software estate, they believed there was a big opportunity to better manage software assets and create a more efficient means of monitoring and controlling costs.
Following consultation with IT analyst Gartner and with the buy-in from a cross functional steering group composed of Procurement and IT, the business decided to go out to tender on a bold project to outsource software asset management and overhaul how software would be managed and acquired across their business. The intention was to identify an expert partner who would become their software Centre of Excellence.
Adrian Clewley, Head of Global Procurement at Man, explains the project origins, “There are some excellent Software Asset Management tools on the market but you still need someone to manage the software assets and interpret the data generated by the tool. We had heard about companies not deploying the right resource around their project then finding it failed."
By outsourcing the project, Man would obtain the Software Asset Management tool needed, complemented by technical expertise to manage it plus vital knowledge of the complex licensing models they are subject to. The partner would also be expected to use the information collected on their estate and experience in Software Licensing to successfully negotiate vendor software audits and obtain the best possible value for Man from future software acquisition and licence renewals.
As a partner to GLG, Man’s discretionary investment management business, acquired in 2010, Softcat were delighted to be invited to tender, following a recommendation from Andy Archer, IT Director at GLG. Liam Dennison, Account Director at Softcat, picks up the story, “Man wanted to deploy a best-of-breed Software Asset Management tool and create a Software Licensing Desk (SLD) to then manage all software assets. With a business the size of Man we felt it important that our proposal demonstrates a high degree of flexibility with the opportunity to evolve as knowledge on the estate became clear over time."
The objectives for the Software Licence Desk were clear: manage the software assets, and provide a consistent ordering platform and maintain a software inventory. With a vast amount of experience in Software Asset Management and Software Licensing, Softcat believed that the success of the project would be dependent on the right mix of resources. Liam Dennison continues, “Man wanted the Software License Desk to be the ‘go to people’ for anything software related and wanted it to inspire an attitude change surrounding software use and acquisition. We knew large chunks of the task would be operational; meaning we could, on the whole deploy more cost-effective resources to undertake the day-today responsibilities, supplemented by a senior Software Consultant as part of the governance committee Man proposed to set up. Crucially, this resource mix kept our response commercially attractive."
“Softcat stood out from the other three bidders,” comments Adrian Clewley on the Softcat response to the tender. “They were energetic, enthusiastic and creative. The people we met were very motivated, very keen and very eager to win the business. Conversely, the other bids were very traditional, very corporate and very rigid which did not give us confidence in how the service might need to develop."
Man was also very impressed with SNOW, the Software Asset Management tool Softcat recommended in its bid. “We have a strong track record working with SNOW,” says Liam Dennison, “and believed it offered everything Man required and more”. “Softcat’s close relationship with SNOW was very reassuring,” adds Adrian Clewley.
As the chosen partner, Softcat has been operating the Software License Desk for over two years and a recent contract extension is testament to the achievements made with the software estate during this time. Softcat has audited 1,273 applications from mainstream brands such as Microsoft and Symantec to more exotic ISV’s like Dart Communications and US based Business Intelligence provider Splunk. Furthermore, Softcat is now managing 1,300 users and 5,250 devices at any one time.
The results have been both powerful and immediate. Within only a few months of running the Software Licence Desk, Softcat examined a large provider’s licensing position and helped them avoid a multi-million pound maintenance renewal as a result of accurate data on what was deployed.
“The project has accomplished every goal we set out to achieve. Every year, Softcat has more than covered their costs in real savings. Add to this what we have achieved in cost avoidance and the return is in excess of 10 times their annual fee for the service!” enthuses Adrian Clewley.
With SNOW agents deployed on every desktop and nearly every server in the estate, Softcat is able to monitor application usage and challenge the business on how much or whether software is even needed. The result is an accurate software inventory and a ‘pool’ of software licences that can be re-purposed rather than buying further software unnecessarily.
All this information is available to business stakeholders in a dashboard which feeds into a quarterly forecast on software renewals, prompting cost centre managers to confirm important estate information like licensing levels and support contract requirements. This is finally run past the CTO and CFO for final approval.
Armed with an Effective Licensing Position and granular intelligence on the software estate, Softcat then proactively approaches Man software vendors to negotiate the best possible commercials on software renewals and related support.
The flexibility Softcat promised at the outset has proved invaluable to the project. From the original service scope, they are now managing 10 times more software vendors than initially anticipated and are responsible for overseeing the uninstallation of software from machines demonstrating how quickly a project of this kind can grow.
According to Adrian Clewley, Softcat has fundamentally changed software management and acquisition within Man, “Cost centre managers now don’t need to try and carry all of the knowledge surrounding software themselves – they simply go to the Software License Desk and can be assured they know what’s deployed and what’s needed."
Like any service there have been hiccups but Adrian Clewley believes you can always tell the integrity of a supplier by the way they react when there is a problem. When this occurs, “Softcat listen, they are not defensive, they talk to us and they take remedial steps quickly".
Now that the original objectives have been achieved, Man is continuing to develop the service further. “50% of the tasks we undertake today were not on the original scope of work - demonstrating just how much the service has evolved in the time we have been managing it. We started with one License Administrator and now have two,” comments Liam Dennison.
The project and the experience gained have also enabled Softcat to enhance its Software Asset Management services. “Working with Man has been a step change to our traditional SAM services. As people and consultants my team has matured as has SAM within Man’s business. We now have multiple Software Licence Desks around the square mile and know we can make a real difference to any business and more importantly show a good ROI almost immediately,” declares Matt Ward, SAM Manager at Softcat.
Adrian Clewley concludes, “Working with Softcat has been a real pleasure. From the word go they have delivered tangible benefits to the business and have proved themselves to be straight talking, responsive and dynamic. We are very pleased with the service they deliver for us and look forward to developing it further in the future."
"Working with Softcat has been a real pleasure... ...We are very pleased with the service they deliver for us and look forward to developing it further in the future."
Adrian Clewley, Head of Global Procurement
MAN GROUP PLC