Software audits: At best, they consume a significant amount of time and resources. At worst, they uncover tremendous and dramatic failures of policy and process. Companies today need to be vigilant regarding their ownership and their software licenses; if they aren’t careful, there can be a proliferation of incorrectly licensed or even fraudulent software.
Employees just want to get their job done, and they may not always have complete understanding of the legality of the situation. Moreover, software manufacturers themselves are aware that many companies are using more licenses than they are strictly allowed to—and they will therefore conduct audits as a method of upselling.
Over $350 billion a year is spent due to damages from malicious, unlicensed software, and it’s likely that almost 40 percent of the software installed on most computers is either unlicensed or incorrectly licensed. But how can organizations avoid costly software audits? It comes down to better practices and tools. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Start Tracking the Use of Your Software
Your organization should have a comprehensive repository to store licensing information for all the software used. That includes user accounts, software installed, licensing requirements, device installations, and more. When it comes to cloud deployments, potential licensing conflicts should be thoroughly explored. Regularly, your organization should conduct its own internal software audits to ensure that the organization is using software correctly and that nothing has been missed.
Today, many organizations are running hybrid platforms—both on-premise and cloud-based solutions. Licensing issues can be missed or ignored because of the increased complexity of the infrastructure and the adoption of work from home (WFH). Unlicensed software accounts for 37% of software installed on personal computers, according to the Business Software Alliance (BSA). By taking appropriate action to track software, both on-premise and cloud, from the start, an organization can avoid losing control over its systems.
- Implement Software Management Tools
Software Management Tools are designed to head off software audits, by performing continuous management and optimization of software licensing. Software management tools are able to help an organization not only track its software, but also improve upon it, identifying areas in which the organization could streamline its licensing and therefore reduce the costs associated with licensing.
Software management suites include the ability to track contacts, manage the financial side of the licenses, and fully inventory software being used. With intelligent discovery, optimization, and planning features, software management can ultimately pay for itself, in addition to reducing the chances of a failed software audit.
- Educate Your Personnel
Your employees need to be aware of the dangers of installing software without the proper licensing, and should (when possible) be restricted from adding software at all without the appropriate processes. Malware can be extraordinarily costly for a business to deal with, and is often introduced when employees are simply trying to find tools that will help them get their job done.
Because not every employee understands the processes of licensing, and may try to install software on more devices than is allowed, or may install the wrong type of software, it’s best to leave software installations to the IT department. The fewer errors that occur, the less there will be to reconcile during the process of a software audit.
- Leverage Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is a groundbreaking technology that can help streamline and improve key business processes including asset management, supply chain, auditing, and more. Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) can be used to create cryptographically powered distributed ledgers in virtually any problem domain, including Software Licensing, FinTech, and LegalTech. The Consortium framework is oriented towards creating permissioned blockchains, that is, blockchains with the known set of parties in this case the Software License, Licensor and End User. The entire transaction history of a license can be stored in a distributed ledger which is always updated and available. The platform at its core operates autonomously and in a decentralized way through smart contracts, without having each party maintain a separate ledger and making decisions. The agreements are stored on the blockchain reducing the friction between the parties.
Managing Your Software Effectively
The direct costs of a software audit can be up to $50,000 for most businesses. But though external audits should be eliminated when possible, internal audits are what ensures that your organization remains in compliance. Internal software audits provide for better, more effective software management. There are a few tools that organizations can use to conduct these audits: Neocor, Absolute Computrance, Cherwell Asset Management, and Lansweeper Computer Inventory.
By performing a software audit either annually or semi-annually, an organization can reduce the chances that an external software audit could cost tens of thousands of dollars. Furthermore, a regular internal audit will highlight any applications that have been installed by employees and that might have potentially malicious code inside them. The more an organization knows about its software system, the more it will be able to reliably protect itself.
Does your organization want to learn more about Software Asset Management and its benefits? Contact us today to find out more.