Best practices to stay current on IBM licensing

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Every Tuesday at 8 a.m. (give or take a few minutes), IBM publishes its weekly announcements in the form of an email blast.

These emails include information regarding new versions and migrations of products, software withdrawals, license and metric changes, and more. To stay compliant with your software licensing agreements, and also to have a positive customer experience, it’s important to pay attention.

Here’s how to keep up with these messages and make sure you have a handle on them.

3 ways IBM users can get out of step with compliance if they aren’t careful

Unless your employees are well-versed in how IBM announces and implements its changes and what contracts your organization has at any given time, you are susceptible to potentially costly blind spots.

Three areas that often catch companies off guard if they don’t clearly understand the announcements include:

  1. Licensing renewals: If customers miss license and metric changes, they may encounter price or product variance at the time of renewal.
  2. Audits: If customers miss licensing model changes, they may find themselves out of compliance.
  3. Support: If customers miss product changes, they may not have support when they need it.

Employing someone who consistently stays on top of – and manages – these announcements is a good way to prevent your organization from being blindsided. But the truth is, you need to do more.

Best practices to avoid being caught off guard

Put together a team. It should be well-versed in everything from IBM licensing in general to the specific contracts you have in place, and responsible for keeping up with the weekly IBM changes. At the same time, create a catalog of products within your environment so you know exactly which versions, which additions, and which features of certain products you’re using.

That way, when IBM announces changes to a product, you have a system in place to catch the news, easily cross-reference updates or announcements with your current book of products, quickly determine if or how you’re affected, and develop a plan to act accordingly.

By having these guardrails in place, you put yourself in a position to respond immediately rather than reacting when it’s too late. This could mean the difference between owing money that you didn’t budget for at renewal time and adapting without unfortunate consequences.

Utilize outside expertise

You may feel inclined to handle these measures internally. However, that’s not always the best route.

Licensing experts are rare. They’re even harder to validate. If you hire one and they leave your company, they can be difficult to replace and leave you vulnerable to changes you’re not tracking or not fully understanding.

Another option is to tap a third-party partner who can offer economies of scale, hiring and retaining experts you can turn to as needed. They can keep you aware of any changes communicated by IBM and help you create an effective course of action to handle them. Look for a partner with a proven track record of managing licenses for an organization of your size and in your industry.

Be proactive

IBM, like all publishers, introduces changes and updates all the time. Given the constant flow of IBM announcements, the last thing you want to be is reactive.

You need to have a plan in place to accommodate those changes and take a more proactive approach.

If you don’t have the expertise in house, it’s important that you work with a partner to cover your bases and properly prepare to address any changes.

If you have additional questions about IBM licenses and how the constant changes impact your current contracts, contact your SHI account executive.