I recently wrote a blog in which I addressed tools to help organizations identify software products deployed in their IT environment. Knowing your installed software is a core element of any Software Asset Management (SAM) discipline, as it enables the organization to identify compliance issues, but the knowledge can also identify areas in which an organization may be paying for more licenses than they need, or if they aren’t using software efficiently.
Once you identify your installed software and compliance, it’s often valuable to consider the user profiles within the organization and determine whether they may be using the most cost effective products or software editions. For example, do you have a significant number of users using Enterprise Edition when Professional would suffice? Are perpetual licenses still the best solution, or would you benefit from increased reliance upon subscriptions such as Office 365™? Another consideration is whether you may be able to reallocate products which may no longer be used due to employee attrition or product upgrades. If you are evaluating Microsoft® software usage, consider whether you have the best environment of Client Access Licenses (CALs). Also, consider whether employees (or contractors) may be accessing your environment with their own devices (BYOD), and whether they are properly licensed.
Once you understand and optimize your existing environment, you will have a baseline from which to consider future planning and financial implications.
Proactively managing software assets should be a regular part of any organizations discipline, and it will simplify the process of annual true-ups, license renewals, and the seemingly inevitable compliance audit.
Some organizations, particularly those with a relatively simple IT landscape, can manage their software assets internally, whereas more complex environments may require third party expertise. If you elect to engage external assistance, you will not only benefit from their up to date knowledge and available hours, but you may also gain valuable insight in terms of price benchmarking, since they will likely have seen negotiated discounts achieved by similar organizations elsewhere.
It’s important to note that this is not a trivial exercise, but if you do it on your schedule, rather than wait for a renewal or audit, you can control the timing and minimize the impact on your day to day business.