How Does Your Company Manage Its Software?

For many organizations, software assets provide strong financial and productivity benefits but have ongoing expenses; such as license renewals, true-ups, support and version upgrades. And like any asset – physical, financial or digital – software has to be monitored and maintained. Yet, most companies still struggle with proper software asset management (SAM) which requires setting policies for corporate standards, software evaluation, purchasing, usage and compliance monitoring. According to the Fourth Annual BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study, in 2006, for every $2 worth of that software purchased legitimately, $1 worth was obtained illegally. This is a staggering figure that has far-reaching implications for corporations.  

In order to cost-effectively manage software, companies must first determine what assets they need and reconcile that with what is currently running:

1. Establish Software Standards – Setting corporate software standards to address compliance issues is a good place to start. By interviewing department heads, unit managers and other business leaders, IT can determine what software and applications are needed to run the business in accordance with corporate strategic objectives. While this may be time-consuming, it is essential for IT to determine what software is needed. As a result of these discussions, IT can create a list of software needed for each department and tie that to the needs of individual employees.

2. Perform an IT Asset Inventory – Once standards are set and notifications are understood by all users, IT must conduct a survey of all software and hardware that currently exists in its environment. Companies typically publish an internal list of approved software so that users know what they can use.

3. Match Software Installed to Licenses Acquired – The next step is to reconcile license documentation with the installed applications. Companies often find that there are discrepancies between what it has rights to and what is running in its environment – which can be risky if they are subject to a software audit.

4. Monitor the Frequency of Software Usage – Most companies need to employ an automated inventory solution with a software usage module to determining which applications are not being used. There is often a disconnect between the business owners and actual employees about which applications are really needed to run the business.

5. Enforce Standards and Recover Licenses – Once IT knows what it has and where it is, the company is well-positioned to start enforcing corporate software standards.

6. Check Usage and Upgrade Rights – One of the most frequently overlooked aspects of software licensing is usage rights. The End User License Agreement (EULA) governs what companies can and cannot do legally with the software.

Today, many of these necessary processes can be automated and occur automatically with the right software asset management tools. Of the steps detailed above, only establishing software standards needs to be a manual process. 

To help customers, Dell recently announced a set of cloud-based software asset management solutions that can help customers better mitigate risk or offer cost savings. As an added bonus, by getting a handle on software asset management, companies are much better equipped for a compliance audit – expected or unexpected.

About the Author: Cindy Grogan