Having helped many hundreds of companies through their own software audits and saving them money on their licences in the process, we have identified numerous ways to avoid straying onto vendors’ radars too often.
In our previous article, we explained how volume licencing can help to reduce your attractiveness for audits since it can give your vendor a better view of your software purchases. In this section, we look at the importance of negotiating good licence contracts and keeping accurate records.
When investing in volume licencing agreements, it is a good idea to check the clauses on software audits. Where the terms may not be considered favourable to the end user you can try to negotiate a position that gives you 60 days’ notice of any audit request. With a SAM (Software Asset Management) solution in place, this breathing space should be more than sufficient to give you time to collate the relevant reports, check that audit baselines are up-to-date and deal with any potential reconciliation discrepancies before having to present an ELP to the vendor.
In most organisations, the software estate has grown organically over many years leading to departments, business units, or even individuals managing their own procurement needs and this leads to record-keeping chaos. While the most obvious repercussion of this lack of centralised records is a mad rush to raid filing cabinets, dig up old emails and scour ERP or financial systems when an audit request comes in, there is actually a wealth of good reasons why organisations should not wait for an audit before getting their paper trails in order.
Organisations could at least start by collating their software entitlements into a spread sheet or finance software. But not surprisingly, these are not ideally suited to managing the particular needs of software licences – so a better alternative is to invest in a dedicated software licencing solution with an integrated repository into which all licences can be recorded. Better still, the licencing solution should be quick to populate (ideally with multiple ‘bulk import’ options) and offer some level of automated validation of licencing entitlements.
Having a clear view of which licences you have i.e. your entitlements, is the first step to proactive management of your licences. Only by knowing which licences you have can you move onto the next step of licence management maturity – reconciling these licence entitlements with licence use. But there are a few more steps required to get your house in order before you get there. In the next article we will explain how better control of software deployment will help keep the house clean and tidy and prepare you for licence reconciliation.
Sean Robinson, managing director of License Dashboard, is one of the most experienced SAM professionals in the business. He not only founded the SAM business at Phoenix Software, a UK LAR, but then created the first License Dashboard solution and helped draft the ISO 19770-1 SAM standard.