Note: The identity of the following company has been concealed to protect the non-compliant.
Part II: Solution and Advice
After muddling through two painful software license audits, a Texas-based microelectronics manufacturing company implemented new procedures for keeping on top of its software licensing situation. Not only did the company implement technology to keep track of what was installed on desktops and servers, but it also developed new procurement and tracking processes to ensure licenses were properly documented, deployed and managed.
Finding an automated solution that was powerful, easy to use and feature-rich, while suitable for a mid-sized business, proved to be a colossal challenge. Enterprise-focused suites were too complex and expensive, while cheaper or free inventory tools lacked essential features and could not scale.
Features the company required included the ability to view software and hardware inventory and software usage data; ease of use; low system impact; support for custom and specialized applications; and affordability. The search led them to Express Software Manager, and the benefits have been substantial. The company has been able to stay compliant across the board with its license agreements, eliminate unnecessary spending on licenses and maintenance, improve system planning, and reduce IT help desk cycles since hardware and software information is now accessed through simple, browser-based access.
The pain and expense of two software audits has turned the company into a passionate advocate for strong software license management processes. Their advice to other organizations is as follows:
- First, centralize IT purchasing so that one department or individual is responsible for ensuring that procurement and license details are properly documented and accessible.
- Second, develop a strong software usage policy to educate employees about the consequences of noncompliance and discourage behavior that puts the organization at risk. Send the usage policy out yearly and require each employee to sign it. Not only will it help to curb compliance risk, but it can also improve your legal position in the event of a failed audit.
- Finally, implement a reliable, accurate, automated inventory tool; and if possible, make the inventory client part of your organization’s desktop image.
Although every organization will have unique considerations related to its own licensing complexity, IT environment, and software procurement policies, these basic steps are a strong starting point for all companies and will help them either to avoid or recover from a painful and expensive trial by audit.