Monday, 20 July 2015

Don’t Let the Money Slip Through the Cracks – Software Asset Management

The other day as I was waiting on the train platform I bumped into an IT operations manager who I hadn’t seen for a while. Since I normally saw him in the evening ride home I had assumed he was on holiday.

“Quite the opposite, I’m afraid.” He sighed “We had the good fortune of running through a couple of our major software vendors for compliance.”
“Didn’t go that well?” I joked
“It went ok but we are clearly more disorganized than I thought, well at least that’s over.”
I got the sense that they didn’t have anything formalized in the way of software asset management and that they may not be starting anything soon.
My train arrived and I told him I would catch him later. While on the train I started to think about this a bit more. Here are a few areas to consider as a start.  

Operations
One of the first challenges I having a way to ensure that we are checking what we have on hand from a software license standpoint and installing based on that. Basically we should have the right amount of licenses in stock. If we don’t we should buy ordering some more. When we don’t do that we start to lose visibility on how many people have access to software which have a cost associated to it.
Another slippery slope is when we do not have an understanding on what the software really means. For example all people might ask for the professional version of some level of software when all they need is the standard version. Not getting this right can have some significant costs associated with them.
Aside from the local installations there are also risks with installing on a server. In these cases many people may be able to access the software in question so we should understand what implications that may have on the licensing for that application.
To be truly proficient at managing the software we should not only manage the software itself through the lifecycle but we should also have a good understanding where all the associated documents like contracts and license agreements are stored and who manages them.

People can be challenging
Operational challenges aside, people add another degree of complexity to your ability to manage software assets. There are several avenues of thought on this.
First think about the ability to install locally for the business. For people to be local admins who can install anything on their desktop they may be installing software which may have terms or conditions that they do not understand or have ignored. There may also be security concerns with the software that they are using that again may be not fully understood.
Ensuring that the IT department is looped into these discussions will account for some of these things but we still have an obligation to understand what the business does and work with them strategically to ensure that we are enabling them for success as well as making the best use of the assets we have. For example, do we already have an application that has the functionality that the business seeks at no additional cost?

How do we fix this?
While the first inclination for most is to use a tool (which has its own software implications) you really need to understand the end to end process of what is happening within the lifecycle of your software in the first place. The best way to make improvements; understand how you manage your assets, understand how your business uses the assets, work with the business to improve your relationship to be a better partner.

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