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Why licence rightsizing and optimisation shouldn’t be an afterthought

Networking & security End User Computing & Mobility Professional services Software Licensing Asset Management

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Brian White

Senior SAM Consultant

Continuing our series of blog articles looking at IT Asset Management we delve into the world of Software Asset Management (SAM) and the importance of taking a considered and proactive approach to licensing.

The attitude of many has been "we need to do some SAM" or "we need to be ready for the vendor audit" without understanding what this means, the associated risks or their licensing position now and in the future. Importantly, responding to an audit is a one-off exercise, and it's only a matter of time until the next vendor demands proof of compliance, potentially kicking off the same cycle of work all over again. Of course, let's not forget the person typically responsible for licence compliance often has a 'day job' and little time to understand the intricacies of software licensing, adding the onerous nature of this task.

Additionally, IT projects are often delivered without considering the whole picture, and are focused on scoping the right technology only. It's only further down the road after a project has been implemented and spot-checked that software licensing risk is identified. Under-licensing often spells under-budgeted cost and can lead to a very difficult conversation between IT and the business about lack of due diligence.

Last year saw the market approach to SAM start to mature and organisations realised that if they considered the licensing need at the time of change and service design they could understand the true cost of changes in technical configuration for projects. Through looking not just at SAM but at how they can use IT Service Management (ITSM) and IT Asset Management (ITAM) functions in tandem, organisations can really begin to drive value.

So, what can you do to lower your cost and risk to optimise software spend?

Mature the processes

By considering a licensing optimisation and verification stage to service desk processes, the risk of non-compliance can be lowered and spend reduced substantially. Asking important questions surrounding licensing provides an important check and balance and helps to link processes from the service desk to asset management to deployment and packaging. Be mindful these checks may need to extend beyond on-premise infrastructure too - when we throw cloud into the mix, organisations will potentially be consuming technologies from a multitude of different sources, adding yet further considerations to the task of optimisation.

At Softcat we worked with a customer to implement a process that automatically uninstalled Visio Pro, and replaced it with the free of charge Visio Viewer if no usage was detected for 60 days. When users realised months later that they didn't have the same product (or any idea when it was removed), it quickly established who had a genuine requirement and who didn't, as well as stripping significant cost from their Enterprise Agreement renewal.

Brush up on your business intelligence

Another area we are witnessing organisations focus on is improving their business intelligence prior to negotiations with vendors for new projects and renewals. By knowing exactly how many users or assets you have, you'll avoid renewing for 2300 users when really you only needed to license for 2143. Similarly, if organisations can remove all unused applications and understand their future demand and strategy, it will significantly bring down spend. Armed with better intelligence and an appreciation of what the vendor will want to sell, dangling the right carrots can unlock welcomed savings.

Remember to read the small print

A principal reason for non-compliance is contracts not being read and the terms negotiated. For example, with some manufacturers there are significant restrictions in most agreements about using the licences outside of the country or region they were purchased. A lot of organisations only realise this at the point they are being audited, when the legal counsel first sees the contract (which states this very clearly). Again, through a strong process where the right people in an organisation sign off on a requirement this can all be managed and considered before signing up.

Find out more

This is the second in a series of articles looking at ITAM and ITSM. If you'd like to know more or are keen to explore the tools for supporting this or the advice Softcat could offer around governance speak to your Account Manager or get in touch using the form below.