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Keep Track of Your Company’s Software

June 27th, 2017

Audit, Reconcile and Remain Vigilant

softwareIt may not surprise you to know that many companies don’t track their software usage. Your company might even be one of them.

But without accurate data, your company can easily be overspending on software and licenses it doesn’t need or under spending and keeping employees from getting applications they need to work efficiently.

And if your employees are using unlicensed, illegal software or downloaded free shareware, your company can run into software compatibility problems and no technical support from software publishers.

Moreover, poor software management raises the spectre of legal costs and fines for unlicensed or illegal software.

Businesses of all sizes need some method of dealing with their software assets and keeping them under control. This is where Software Asset Management (SAM) enters the picture.

SAM can help your company get the most out of a minimum of software investment, protect it from software piracy and under-licensing, determine true software needs and take advantage of volume license discounts by determining the most efficient use of software.

A well-run SAM program will streamline the software buying process, ensure employees have the applications they need, verify license compliance and monitor the use and prices of maintenance and support contracts.

Setting up a SAM program can be a complex task, depending on your IT needs, but here is a four-step quick-start guide:

1. Perform a software audit: You can do this manually by checking the hard drive of each PC, or automatically by acquiring business support software tools that provide a comprehensive inventory of the software on your PCs and servers. Compile the information in a report that you can use during the next two steps. For example, you might use a chart to track Software Title, Version, Number Installed, Licenses Held, Over-Licensed and Under Licensed.

2. Analyze needs and look for redundancies.
Talk to managers and other key people in each department to see what software they really need, and ask employees what applications they rarely use or don’t use at all. Be sure to match what employees say they need to their job skill competencies. What they think they need may simply reflect a lack of skills.

You may find that your company is running applications that perform similar functions or older versions that no longer fall under support contracts you still pay for. Redundant and older software offer major opportunities to consolidate and rationalize, thus lowering your costs and in the process bolstering security.

3.  Reconcile licenses: Once you eliminate unnecessary, redundant, and old software, compare the remaining inventory to the licenses your company holds. The aim, of course, is to come up with a number of licenses that equals the number of installed applications. If licenses exceed software, you are over-licensed and wasting software assets. If the licenses lag the number of applications, you need to buy additional licenses or dump the applications.

4. Establish policies: Now you are ready to set up clear written policies for using and acquiring software.

  • Software Use Policy: This will outline your company’s rules for downloading, installing, and using software titles as well as help keep your systems free from viruses, and reduce the number of support calls. Designate a software asset manager to be responsible for ensuring that all employees read, understand and follow the policy.

 

The policy should make it clear that only authorized personnel are allowed to buy or install software and that the company will not tolerate downloads of any software whether legal or illegal. Let your employees know that you will monitor all Internet and downloading activities within the company.

  • Software Acquisition Policy: The most efficient way to manage software purchasing is to centralize both the acquisitions and the record keeping. Individuals responsible for these tasks should track and update software inventory regularly to keep up with licensing needs and updates in software.

 

The policy should state that software will come only from reputable resellers and that all applications should have Certificates of Authenticity, even if they are preinstalled on equipment.

Those responsible for purchasing must keep all original CDs, documentation, Certificates of Authenticity and End User License Agreements (EULA), confirmation of volume licenses, and purchase invoices.

Store all records in a safe, centralized place. This should be done off site if possible, but at the very least in a fireproof, waterproof, lockable cabinet or safe. For additional security, keep copies in a separate location.

Centralizing acquisitions will help lower costs by ensuring that your company is purchasing the proper licenses and by making it easier to allocate resources by matching budgets with spending.


Taking on a Partner

Software Asset Management can be a complex, time-consuming process and depending on your company’s size, software asset pool, and technological needs, you might consider outsourcing the job.

Outsourcing can guarantee that the job of managing your company’s software will be done consistently and continually, which is the way SAM is most effective.

 But before you hire a third party, be sure of your objectives for doing so, and make sure you have a set of criteria to benchmark performance.

You want to be clear about: what to expect from the service, where ultimate responsibility for the program lies, what reports and controls need to be in place and how communications will be maintained between your in-house staff and the third-party.

Considering the growing investment in software and the ease at which employees can download software or copy and install a CD-ROM, vigilance is critical.

If your company doesn’t have the time or the resources to efficiently maintain a SAM program, investing in a trusted third-party to do the job could be cost effective.