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Jason Owens: How Salesforce Built a World-Class Software Asset Management Team

software asset management team


Building a world-class software asset management team from the ground up isn’t for the faint of heart. But SAM leader Jason Owens has done just that at Salesforce. In this episode, learn about the early days of Salesforce’s software asset management program and how they’ve assembled their dream team to tackle SaaS and drive collaboration and results across the business.

Episode Summary

When Jason Owens began his journey at Salesforce, little did he know that he’d become a crucial part of building its progressive and transformative software asset management program. 

In the early days, the focus was on on-prem software. Later, that vision grew to include the entire software portfolio within Business Technology. And the need to build out their team.

“Every company that has a SaaS footprint has a need for high functioning SAM practitioners in their business.”

However, going through this process wasn’t without its challenges. In fact, Jason recalls the “oh sh*t” moment where they realized their lack of controls and opportunity for rationalization.

“After we did some digging, we found out that all several hundred folks who had gone through the manager approval process were using [the expensive business software] to edit cat pictures and cat videos.”

Today, Jason leads a team of 20 across the globe that manages a budget of over $100 million in assets. And while the days of cat videos are long gone, their world-class software asset management team is now poised to drive transformation across the business.

Guest Spotlight

Name: Jason Owens
What he does: Leads global ITAM at Salesforce
Connect with Jason online: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

Create a Program that Pays for Itself and Delivers Value

“As a program, we pay for ourselves. And it’s one of the metrics I track is making sure not just that we’re cost neutral from a fully loaded salary perspective, but that we’re actually returning significant value. And over the last four years it’s basically run 6.5-7 times the cost of our discovery tools, plus our FTE dollars that we return in value through cost avoidance and cost savings vs budget to the business.”

Software Asset Management in the SaaS Space is Incredibly Transformative

“I think if we could get the story out to more people about how transformative software asset management, particularly in the SaaS space where people are just out swiping credit cards and agreeing to click through terms, that more people would say, ‘Oh, we really need to invest in this for our business because we can leverage that money and then unlock value and put it into things that are transformative for the business rather than just spend.’”

Enabling Internal Stakeholders Unlocks Value Across the Business

“Because we sit in business technology, we get to focus on the third leg of that stool. That’s the enablement piece. It’s like, how do we unlock value from our software for our people to go do their jobs, right? Because at the end of the day, that’s what this stuff all is: tools in the tool bag that individuals can use to deliver their value to the organization.”

Strong Software Asset Management Teams are Primed for The Great Rationalization

“The last two years have been a roller coaster ride of variance as we tried to spin up these applications that are basically used in the office and look at digital collaboration. I expect there to be some really strong rationalization pushes around the industry in almost all categories as we go forward. Particularly with the state of how business is in the world today, where there’s so many unknowns. At the same time, teams that have really strong SAM programs are primed to drive that business and monetary value back into the business by having those conversations early rather than, ‘Oh, well, we missed the auto renewal, so we’re on the hook for another six figures for this next year.’”

Working within a Framework Enables Creative Solutioning

“No matter how much value we drive for our investment, we’re still a cost center. I don’t say that in a negative way. It’s a reality that we have to work within the framework and deliver value from within those barriers and boundaries. It gives us a really neat canvas to be creative on how we do that. I think that that’s one of the reasons it’s so fun to be a software asset manager today is, we can go out and say, ‘Hey, let’s work with product. Let’s deliver an N plus one standardization. Let’s reduce the complexity in our environment, make it easier for our Techforce folks to help people because they’re not having to search across 12 different knowledge bases to find information to help a customer.’ Right? A lot of those are soft costs and soft savings, but they drive discrete business value at the end of the day.”

Top Quotes

4:41 – “Every company that has a SaaS footprint has a need for high functioning SAM practitioners in their business.”

20:28 – “I think [rationalization] should be top of mind for all software asset managers.”

Check out other episodes here, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.



Cory Wheeler

As Zylo’s Chief Customer Officer, Cory is responsible for helping our customers drive ROI and SaaS Management success with Zylo. He helps companies of all sizes effectively discover, optimize, and govern their SaaS through Zylo’s platform and services. Prior to founding Zylo, Cory spent 15 years in finance and procurement, managing categories and sourcing teams at Arthur Andersen, BearingPoint, and both Takeda and Astellas Pharmaceuticals. He built the procurement organization at ExactTarget, and managed the integration with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud procurement organization in 2015. He and his family reside in Indianapolis, IN, where they can be found cheering for the Purdue Boilermakers and Chicago Cubs.