Sorry, wish I could've replied quicker, but I'm super busy at work at the moment due to half of my team being sick and having to launch a huge webapp by the end of next week.
"ability to execute programs/commands outside of SAM" ???
As of SAM v2017.8 there is a command called ExecteCmd that allows you to call any executeable on your computer from within PAL.
If you haven't yet upgraded to at least that version, you could use the AutoShell
software by Chris Haslage.
AutoShell is basically a webserver/webapp that will execute commands you send it via HTTP requests, meaning you could even use it to run comamnds on different computers.