All too often, software license management is an area where many companies procrastinate. In theory, it’s important. But deadlines, anxious clients and bids for new jobs seem so much more pressing. The squeaky wheel gets the grease while the unlicensed software sits mild-mannered and quietly unnoticed, until an auditor pays a visit.
Not only do federal and state regulatory agencies care about your software licensing, more and more, auditors from software vendors are dropping by for what may quickly turn into not-so-friendly chats. And very costly chats. Most companies don’t budget for these lawsuits – if they had that kind of foresight, they would have complied with licensing – and it hits hard. According to an International Data Corporation report, 56 percent of companies audited by their software vendors had to pay up. And for 21 percent, the price tag exceeded a million dollars.
Getting motivated yet to move compliance off the back burner? Here are some issues and strategies to consider.
Prepare for a vendor audit way before it happens. Depending on the size of your company, put a person or team in charge of monitoring all software licenses. This means practicing continual compliance, rather than checking in on licenses once a year or when somebody remembers and has a spare moment. For most IT departments strapped for time, outsourcing software asset management can be a better alternative.
Know Your Usage
Your software licensing compliance team will need good usage data. You’ll need to track exactly which software programs are being used and how much they’re being used. Also, which aren’t. This will determine which licenses must be kept in compliance, and which software can be jettisoned.
Stay in your colleagues’ line of sight. Once your compliance team is up and running, don’t let anybody forget the importance. Chart cost savings and risk reduction associated with your compliance efforts and post in a visible place. Publicize your successes to cement your relevance within the organization. The more buy-in you have from coworkers and management, the greater return your company will eventually see on their investment in you.
International companies may not have the expertise to properly manage licenses and it can require the help of an IT partner. Cultural differences, language, etiquette and local customs all affect how foreign offices will respond to compliance efforts. If you have offices in multiple countries, you’ll need to educate IT leads on best practices for software licensing management.
Software Management Tools
Software licensing compliance can be a huge task, especially if your company has upwards of 50 licensing contracts. Each contract requires monitoring, review and ongoing negotiations. But there’s help…in the form of more software. As the dangers of non-compliance grows, so do the software options that help you handle the job. If licensing compliance is too big a task for you and your staff, research the many programs that can help you stay on top of software licenses. You just might find the perfect program. One that’s worth one more license to deal with.
Managing software assets without effective tools is nearly impossible. Using the right tools not only makes managing software easier, it also reduces the burden on administrators and increases end-user satisfaction.