Do you understand the risks of using software?

5 Sep 2016 | SAM/SLO

The title of this article may seem an odd question. After all, what are the risks of using software, it’s not like you are handling explosives? Well, the fact is that your software is an asset and like all assets needs to be properly managed. If it is not, then you are at risk of unbudgeted costs and potential fines.

Software differs from physical assets due to its unique characteristics and it is these very characteristics that can cause problems – if not fully understood. So, let’s look a little more closely at some of these.

Complex, byzantine and grey terms and conditions

Software manufacturers seem to deliberately go out of their way to make their terms and conditions as complex and difficult to interpret as possible. Even experts in this area can sometimes struggle. Organizations like the Campaign for clear licensing are trying to address this, but it may take many years for software vendors to react.

In the meantime organizations will continue to fall foul of their license agreements due to misunderstanding and ignorance – neither of which is a defence when the vendor’s auditors come calling. So, make sure you actually read the details of your terms and conditions and adhere to software asset management (SAM) best practices to minimize the chance of breaching your license agreement – either deliberately or accidentally.

Risks of using software increased the more easier it is download

For organizations with volume licensing agreements, the software vendor will make it as easy as possible for people within your organization to download, install and use the software. Once installed, you will be liable and will need to prove your entitlement to that software via a license.

Without proper control over who can download and install software within your organization you are placing yourself at risk of substantial true-up costs in the event of an audit. And, don’t think that because you have avoided an audit so far your luck will hold. Industry analysts Gartner now reckon you have a 65% chance of being on the receiving end of one or more audits every year – and this figure is increasing.

So, get control of your software installation procedures by implementing policy-based SAM to control who can and can’t install software within your organization and avoid nasty surprises at audit time.

Losing licenses and documentation

Proof of license documentation is very important to ensuring you can demonstrate you are not in breach of your licensing agreement. Many organizations fail to recognize this and end up losing track of this documentation somewhere within their corporate structure. Similarly, due to the lifecycle of software assets, the hardware it is installed on can be all-to-easily disposed of without the license being recovered for reuse.

Both these factors can very quickly escalate causing non-compliance and the subsequent costs. To avoid this, make sure you have in place good SAM polices that control the recovery of licenses from hardware being disposed. Couple this with a company-wide process to centralize and collate entitlements so that they can be easily produced when required and you will have pretty good control over your licenses.

So, hopefully now you understand the risks of using software and take care to ensure you are not in breach of your license agreements. Central to this is good SAM – people, processes and technology.

If you would like to talk to us about SAM and how it can reduce the risks of using software for your organization, get in touch.