How to negotiate a better software audit clause

Many customers report that the number of software audits requested by publishers has risen dramatically over the past several years.

At best, this proves inconvenient for customers that have to allot valuable time and resources to manage the audit. At worst, organizations face steep financial penalties if unintentional license deficits are discovered.

Perhaps the best means of protecting your company from the risks of software audits is negotiating sufficient protections in your software license agreements when initiating your relationships with publishers. By getting down on paper the terms of any future audits, you mitigate many of their potential risks. Continue Reading…

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Follow these 6 truths to unleash your ITAM program

chainLost laptops. Unused software licenses. Ghost assets. For too many organizations, these IT failures are really a failure of IT asset management (ITAM). In these companies, hardware and software tracking is too challenging a goal, or one that gets bumped down the pecking order every year.

Here’s the truth: It doesn’t have to be this way. Over the past 20 years, we’ve learned that ITAM must be implemented in every organization, no matter how large or small. And along the way, we’ve uncovered six truths about the most successful ITAM programs and how to get your own off the ground.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that asset management is attainable by all. Let’s uncover the truth, and help your organization get on track for an ITAM plan. Continue Reading…

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Paid for, but not used: Why you’re probably not using some software entitlements

keyboard2Many organizations struggle to keep up with more than just the owned versus deployed positions of their software licensing; additional entitlements, such as software maintenance, are often purchased with the license, but go overlooked and unused. These additional entitlements, the terms of which differ from publisher to publisher, are typically valid for a fixed timeframe, and organizations often fail to act on them within that period. Continue Reading…

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How many laptops has your company lost this year?

How many laptops has your company lost this year?It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know where your laptops are?

A misplaced laptop is no surprise to IT – many a laptop has been left in a public place or lost in plain sight on shelves or in drawers. And unfortunately, employees moving into a new job with a different company have been known to take their laptop with them. On average, 10 percent of IT hardware assets are in a state of purgatory, leaving no trace but a record in the books.

But is this a cause for panic? What’s the true cost of a few missing laptops to a business, especially one with increasing revenue and growing profit?

The real – and hidden – cost of lost laptops

Fact: Laptops are relatively cheap. Another reality: The content on those laptops is an organization’s lifeblood. If an employee loses a laptop, organizations can be faced with the loss of financial documents and information, HR records, regulatory filings, and valuable intellectual property. In addition, lost content could put an organization at risk of falling out of compliance with HIPAA or the SEC. Continue Reading…

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IT time wasters: Failing to prepare for a software audit

clock in trashIf you’re like most organizations, it’s been a while since your last self-audit. A survey we conducted found that out of 102 IT admins and executives, 56 percent said their company hadn’t completed a self-audit in the past year.

That doesn’t mean they’re more confident they’ll never see an audit. Almost two-thirds said they believe software audits are becoming more prevalent. And a 2013 Express Metrix survey of 178 senior IT managers in North America about audit activity found that more than half had been audited in the last two years.

The most frequent auditors cited in the Express Metrix survey were Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, Oracle, and SAP, in that order. Does your organization license software from any of those publishers? Most companies use software from at least one, so you should be expecting an audit request in the mail soon, if it hasn’t come already.

While some might see IT asset management and other ongoing maintenance as a time waster, the true time drain is responding to a simple audit when you’re not ready. A prepared organization could potentially respond to a request in days, while those that are unprepared could spend months gathering the necessary information. Continue Reading…

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Ghost assets are scarier than you might think: Part 3

This post is part of a three-part series on ghost assets.

Ghost serversIn my last two posts, I told the frightening tale of ghost assets, the once lively pieces of an IT department’s infrastructure that eventually expired. Yet instead of burying these dead devices, many organizations leave them to haunt their IT departments, and they end up threatening a business’s bottom line and compliance. In the final portion of my tale, I’ll discuss how organizations can finally lay these ghosts to rest.

Exorcizing the specter
Tools are not the answer — they’re only an element of eliminating ghost assets. There is no such thing as a one-shot, out-of-the-box, perfect configuration and inventory management product, though many manufacturers claim to provide such a solution. These products are open-structured and highly configurable, but require tremendous time, effort, and expertise to set up and maintain. Many customers find that they can’t fully leverage the capability of these products without hiring a dozen or more subject matter experts or paying exorbitant rates for long-term, on-site consultants.

IT asset management (ITAM) should be thought of not as a tool, but as process — one that encompasses tools, personnel, expertise, and procedures. Here are some of the best ways to return ghost assets to their graves and eliminate the risks they pose. Continue Reading…

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Overspending on software? The real costs and options

We recently calculated the costs and compliance risks of under-licensing software. But using more licenses than you’re paying for shouldn’t be your organization’s only concern. Almost every customer we come across is also over-licensing products in some situations. That is, they have purchased more licenses than they actually need.

How does this happen? Let’s say one of your employees retires or moves to a different company. She returns her computer (and the software licensed to it) to her IT department, which shelves the assets for future use. The next week, your company hires someone to fill the role. But, when that person is ready to set up her work station, she doesn’t go to the IT department. She goes to the procurement department, which purchases new licenses for her to use. Or, in another common scenario, the organization downsizes and the software gets “lost” in the confusion of the moment. The result is unnecessary outflow of cash and an unused stock-pile of licenses.

While this might not seem like a big deal at first glance, the costs of licensing over-compliance can negatively impact budgets, projects, reputations, and careers. Over-licensing software doesn’t have the same immediate, negative impact of under-licensing or an audit, but it can slowly drain resources from more productive uses. And the problem tends to self-perpetuate: Buying too many licenses in the first place very often results in buying too much maintenance year after year.

When idle licenses are uncovered, certain questions invariably arise: How much did the unused licenses cost, and what other projects were cut or had their budgets slashed in order to cover the expense? Who sanctioned this purchase? Why don’t we have better records on what we own and what we are using? And lastly, now that we have identified all these unused licenses, what do we do with them?

Organizations that have a surplus of unused software licenses have four options: Continue Reading…

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SHI simplifies Microsoft True-up for Mid America Computer Corporation

Properly licensing software in a virtual environment can be a challenge for many organizations, and I’ve heard the process described as everything from a “minefield” to “a ticking time bomb.”

However, an experienced IT Asset Management (ITAM) partner can help you navigate the virtual terrain. Take this customer case study, for example.

THE PROBLEM

Billing and software solutions provider Mid America Computer Corporation (MACC) was approaching its annual True-up reconciliation for its Microsoft software. To make sure the company’s license inventory was in compliance with its contract prior to renewal, MACC needed an accurate, comprehensive look at exactly what software was being used on what devices.

Kourt Jensen, Network Supervisor at MACC, faced three challenges:

  1. He didn’t have the time to collect a complete inventory himself.
  2. He lacked the confidence in the software inventory tools MACC had in place to provide up-to-date licensing information necessary for an accurate True-up.
  3. And he needed help understanding the licensing requirements for a virtual server environment. Continue Reading…
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The impact of sequestration on IT

I chose not to blog about sequestration until now because, like most people, I never really thought it was going to happen. Much like January’s fiscal cliff, the prevailing sentiment was that the “D.C.” in Washington would stand for “Don’t Cut” and that an 11th hour deal would be made.

But now that the deadline has passed and the only thing delaying the start of sequestration is a presidential signature, we must all seriously begin to consider what will happen to those affected by the automatic spending cuts.

As reported by Computerworld this morning, the potential budget cuts are already causing uncertainty within a sector that relies on secure funding to foster growth and innovation: IT. Even though the official OMB report from the White House says that “no amount of planning can mitigate the effects of these cuts,” IT organizations should still start anticipating what those effects will be in order to properly manage them.

If cuts are indeed made, here are some questions IT managers will need to consider. Continue Reading…

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