Six serious over licensing issues Software Asset Management will help prevent

In far too many times companies are afraid of a software licensing shortage when in a software audit. But what they do not realize is that these same companies could have spent thousands of dollars or euros too much in the past due to over licensing, having too many software licenses. And as you might know, software licenses costs a lot of money. So to save on your software spent, here are six serious over licensing issues that Software Asset Management (SAM) will help prevent (please don’t wait to the audit, save money today and start SAM while you can …).

Product standardization
Organizations who don’t have their software products, versions and editions standardized are far more likely to have too many software licenses owned. The simple explanation is the lack of overview in the software products and their corresponding licenses. Besides that, IT staff is more likely to assign the wrong edition to employees who use the software. Software Asset Management can help standardize on software editions and versions and help prevent this over licensing. A nice side effect is that employees will be more productive because they do not have compatibility issues any more.

Standardization of contracts
We face too many times that companies who have a lot of software contracts also have a lot of over licensing. Again, no big surprise. With a lot of software contracts, mostly ad hoc purchases, it is hard to keep an overview of the organizations license entitlements. When there is an employee who wants or needs a piece of software it costs a lot of time to dive into all these contracts to find out is a license is already there. So to save time, mostly when it is just about a few licenses, just another buy will be done. A proper software purchasing management and management of the contracts – as part of SAM – will prevent this type of over licensing.

Use of wrong media
Most software vendors do not sent out media for many years now. After (digitally) signing a contract the software media will appear in the company’s software licensing portal. When the software vendor is Microsoft this will be the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) or Microsoft Volume Licensing Center (MVLC) for the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) contracts. When you have – as an example – Microsoft Visio Standard in your contract, Microsoft will have the download for Visio Standard, but also for Visio Professional and Premium as a download available. This is to make it more easy for the customer when they want more licenses, even from different editions, they are already there. But when IT staff use the wrong media to install is when problems start. As an example, using Visio Premium media to install Visio at an employee’s computer means you do need a Visio Premium license. So when the company ‘thinks’ they have a dozen copies of Visio Standard in use and at an audit the auditor discovers 12 times Visio Premium, this same company will have to buy a dozen Visio Premium licenses. Sorry money. Software media management is a part of SAM.

Uncontrolled installations
Within organizations there are many times employees who need ‘administrator rights’ to be able to do their job. Think about software developers, IT staff themselves, engineers and so on. Having these administrator rights mostly result in these employees to install (a lot) of software without knowing the consequences for the organization. So if restricting the possibility to install software is technically not possible, just make sure that you have crystal clear software use policies in place. These are written policies which help these specific employees to understand the risks and act accordingly (by not installing software without permission of the software management department). Software Use Policies are – as many other written policies – a part of proper SAM.

Use of Citrix
Yes indeed, this is a reason for over licensing. In particular for software which is only use by a couple of people. Think about Microsoft Visio as an example. Traditional Microsoft Visio is a device license. When installed on a Remote Desktop Services or Citrix Server most companies use a management tool (such as RES Workspace Manager or System Center) which limited access to the software based on a uses profile. So if an employee who has rights to use Visio in his or her profile logs into a computer where no license is assigned to, there is an immediate incompliance. At an audit this is most likely to be discovered and the software vendor will force the organization to buy additional licenses which will never be actually used other than for compliancy reasons. Again, good written policies and good understanding of employees that they are only allowed use computers with a license assigned will help this type of over licensing.

License Management
It sounds like kicking in an open door, and it is. But many times we find out that lack of descent License Management is just another reason for over licensing. When there is no license database or the actual license database is not well maintained unnecessary software license purchases are more likely to be made. Only because ‘people’ who are responsible for purchasing or assigning software licenses or IT staff who install the software simply do not know that there is a license already owned and available. Setting up and maintaining a license database is part of Software Asset Management

So, this were only six reasons to have too many software licenses within your organization and which can be prevented by Software Asset Management. Off course there are many more reasons or causes for over licensing and which SAM will prevent, but writing them all down would make this simple blogpost into a book (and you know, that book is already our and called ISO 19770 …).

To close up, except for the second point where already too many software licenses were bought, at an audit the software vendor will force you to buy additional licenses for the software ‘in use’ discovered. This will drag a big hole in your budget for software licenses you are never going to use, except for ‘being compliant’. Thousands of dollars or euro’s down the drain …. You can prevent this by starting Software Asset Management today and not wait until the auditor knocks on your door. Just our 2 cents worth, but do you want to know more, please feel happy to contact us.

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