4 Resolutions IT Asset Managers Need to Keep in 2017

Posted by on January 09, 2017

4 Resolutions IT Asset Managements Need to Know to Keep in 2017

Editor's note: We're kicking off 2017 with a series on New Year’s resolution for IT leaders. In this post, Cherwell's Director of ITAM Product Management puts himself in the shoes of an embattled IT Asset Manager. Read on to discover the challenges facing our hypothetical Asset Manager, as well as the best ways to resolve them. Catch up with all the entries in our New Year's Resolution series:

It is New Year’s Day 2017, and while my family plays outside, I'm thinking about my resolutions for work. Perhaps a little background will help: Last year I was hired by a global enterprise company to manage their IT assets. Going into this role, my goal was to evaluate my organization’s IT and software asset management practices and build a plan to change and create a better process going forward.

The first thing I learned is there were no processes in place for software license compliance and managing software assets at all. Next, I found out there was no budget planned for 2016 to get the tools or staff needed to implement a plan. My final discovery was that there was no buy-in from other departments or key stakeholders to implement a new set of asset management processes that draw upon industry best practices. Procurement didn’t view it as their issue, and IT's primary focus was getting the software and hardware to users as quickly as possible. There was no mandate at the C-level to participate.

Tweet this: Having processes in place for managing software assets should be part of your IT initiatives for 2017

The Consequences of Doing Nothing Are Grim

The picture wasn't looking especially promising, but I was more than willing to forge ahead. Suddenly, Software Manufacturer A notified us they wanted to audit our software licenses. Everyone looked to me to solve this problem. I cobbled together what license entitlements I could find, used some inventory tools that were subpar, and finally relented and allowed the vendor to run scripts on our network to collect accurate software installation information. After a four-month audit, we owed $100,000 for licenses we had deployed without purchasing. This wasn’t all that bad in the grand scheme of things, as the vendor was friendly and levied no penalties if we trued up going forward on an annual basis.

Disaster averted! Or so I thought.

Two weeks later Software Manufacturer B notified us they wanted to audit our software licenses. This didn’t end as well. The software package is licensed per desktop and costs on average about $200 per desktop. We had licensed 3,000 copies. However, someone in IT—doing what he thought was best, no doubt—at some point had decided to make this software package part of our default image deployed with every new desktop. Thus, we had deployed this software package to 25,000 computers, and owed Software Manufacturer B $4,400,000 in licensing costs! Over six months of negotiations, our lawyers were finally able to reduce the money owed on licenses to $1.5 million (plus a $500,000 penalty for deploying a license that wasn't purchased), and negotiated a deal preventing this information from going public.

Did anything good come of this? Yes! Now, I have budget and C-level buy-in to initiate a thoughtful and comprehensive asset management process needed to ensure 2016 doesn’t happen again.

Tweet this: 4 ways to minimize your software audit risk in the upcoming year

4 Resolutions for Minimizing Software Audit Risk in 2017

As I look ahead to the upcoming year, my New Year's resolutions are clear: I can avoid the expenses and anxiety of 2016 by creating a process, mobilizing my team, and finding a tool to support both processes and people. Here's my punch-list for the year ahead:

1. Develop bulletproof asset management processes.

By the end of the year, I'll standardize procurement guidelines and policies for tracking entitlements, and establish an approval policy and a method to check available entitlements before new software is deployed. Tracking entitlements isn’t the entire process but if I can accomplish this piece, I'll be off to a great start.

2. Define the key stakeholders and process owners from the beginning of the process to the end, so I know who owns purchasing, compliance, deployments, etc.

By the end of the year, it'll be clear who does what. I'll have a workflow in place so that it's clear which staffers are in charge of deploying software—this will help prevent costly mistakes, like the ones that occurred the previous year.

3. Implement “real” asset management tools to support processes.

I need tools that can normalize manufacturers, properly identify software, software suites, components of suites, and which software requires a purchased license, and reconcile entitlements with what's been deployed in my environment. Finally, the tool must be able to protect my organization against overspending on software that’s not being used—which means I'll need a tool that can collect software usage data. (When we were audited, we discovered software installed on machines that very likely was not being used. Since users will be reluctant to let go of their licenses, we need usage data to confirm if it is really being used.) And of course, all these tools need to be easy to use and not take months to deploy. That's not all I need from my new tool, but of course, walking comes before running, and this is a strong start.

4. Use IT asset data to assist with other processes in the company.

For example, if I can feed usage data to my ITSM tool, I'll be able to create automated workflows to remove software that is not being used. I'll also be able extend entitlement information to my IT team, so they know if licenses are available before they deploy software packages to users. Any reasonably good IT asset management tool also collects information about users that have logged into a computer and/or the services that are running on it—this information can also be invaluable to IT technicians. One last goal: I'll get other stakeholders in the room to show them the kind of data my asset management solution provides; no doubt I'll find others outside of my immediate team who find value in the information.

These resolutions represent only the beginning of my journey toward a comprehensive asset management program. However, they will lay the foundation for success and help me avoid expensive audit-related fire drills, while also simplifying workflows and adding value throughout the company.

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