By David Graham
Earlier this week we received a query from a company who had spent 2 and a half weeks manually cataloguing software installed across their organisation. 2.5 weeks is a small time frame compared to many other organisations still working in this way! Since software typically represents 25% of an organisation’s total IT budget, it makes good sense to keep a close eye on how, where and what you buy.
As the global installed base of PC’s edged past 1.5 billion, the Business Software Alliance published a report which indicates that the total worldwide software piracy rate in 2011 was 42% - of the 1.5billion PC’s installed that’s a commercial value of £167 million ! So there’s little wonder why vendors such as IBM, Adobe and Microsoft are frequently knocking on organisation’s doors requesting to know their Effective Licence Position (ELP).
According to Gartner 65% of respondents received an audit from a software vendor in the last 12 months  – so if you haven’t been audited yet you’re one of the lucky ones! But this doesn’t mean that you’re excluded.
But the impact of software piracy goes way beyond income lost to the software industry, says Sarah Coombes, BSA’s Managing Director for anti-piracy. And we are inclined to agree with this. Effective Software Asset Management is about Tools, People and Processes. Organisations that strive for compliancy will only manage risk, and not future proof their business.
Tools – Today’s technology provides a hardware and software Inventory, giving you up to the minute information on what you already have. This can be automatically reconciled against licence entitlements to give you an Effective Licence Position (ELP).
People – Once an ELP is established this requires a team of dedicated SAM Professionals to ensure that the asset information is kept accurate and up to date. Maintaining your SAM Plan can enable you to automate this process to control your company’s software more effectively and be in a better position to handle organisational changes.
Processes – By creating Policies and Procedures to establish guidelines for software installed - including who is using it and when organisations can re-harvest unused licenses and achieve significant savings. For some companies, this is automatically repeated every 2 – 4 hours which can mean never having to buy an unnecessary licence again!
Your software is an invaluable asset, so it’s important to know what you have and how it’s being used. Many businesses over spend on licenses because they don’t keep accurate records of what they’ve deployed. Under most licence agreements, companies are obliged to maintain records of every purchase and upgrade, but many lose track of this process. So whilst they understand the risks of using unlicensed software, they struggle to work out which licences need renewing and often waste precious funds on licenses they don’t actually need.
Implementing SAM protects your software investments and helps you recognize what you have, where it's running, and if your organisation is using your assets efficiently.
 Gartner ‘The Software Vendors That are Auditing Now and what to do About It’ 2012
 BSA Global Software 2011 Piracy Study http://portal.bsa.org/globalpiracy2011/