Software license management has grown in importance as businesses shift from software purchases to long term licensing agreements. This is in addition to the proliferation of software that is used by the average business, almost all of which is business critical. Here are four best practices for software license management.
Centralize and Standardize Data Collection
Do not leave critical information about software licensing in someone’s email folder. Gather all the information on your software licenses and all related information. Place this information in a single repository so that it isn’t lost, and ensure that the information is accessible to personnel who need it while limiting the ability to accidentally alter or delete it. Remember that this information includes not only desktop applications but cloud subscriptions as well. Don’t forget to track down subscription information for the software used by only a few subject matter experts that they are unable to function without.
Maintain information about purchase costs, service fees, licensed versions and maintenance contracts. This allows you to know what service level agreement is required of the software vendor if you have problems and gives you all pertinent information if audited. For example, if you cannot demonstrate Oracle compliance, your database may be shut down, and that will kill the average business after a few days.
By standardizing this information’s format, it is easy for people to find the information they need.
If you find anything used illegally, such as someone doing work on a students’ only version of the software or a hacked version, stop it and then come clean about it with the vendor to avoid more severe penalties later. If you are using freeware that is available on the idea it isn’t used commercially, quit using it, switch to a commercially licensed version, and try to make things up to the vendor to avoid potential criminal or civil penalties.
Track Licensing Costs against Usage
Track software licensing costs so that you can budget for them appropriately for the long term. Also track software license usage so that you can determine whether or not reducing the number of floating software licenses is a valid cost cutting technique. After all, it is counter-productive to cut your number of licenses 20% if you’re using almost all the ones you have, causing staff to wait idle until a license is available. Also track the functions that your personnel are using. If you have a hundred Adobe Creative Suite licenses but most of your users are only accessing Adobe Acrobat, perhaps you could downgrade their licenses without disrupting the workplace.
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Never wait until the last minute to renew your software licenses. If you wait too long and there is an issue with the payment or the update of the software license itself, you may find your software inoperable. Then there’s the fact you have more leverage to negotiate the software licensing costs when you have more than a month or two left on the existing license. You can reduce the risk of this problem by setting reminders two or three months in advance of a license expiring.
Software licensing can seem complicated at first if you don’t know which procedures to follow. However, with the proper know how and management, sound software licensing practices become second nature.