Software Compliance: The Why, The What, The How

Software Compliance: The Why, The What, The How

Why Compliance?

Are high-value software assets essential to running your business? If so, you are not alone. In today’s world, software can run everything from hiring processes to logistics supply chains to customer-facing websites. But which software licenses have you purchased, and are you using all of them? Is all the software on your network authorized and accounted for?

According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) 2016 Global Software Survey, 39% of software installed on computers across the globe is not properly licensed. CIOs estimate 15% of their employees download software onto the network outside of company knowledge; employees report these downloads at nearly twice this rate. Even in highly regulated industries (e.g., banking, insurance, securities, etc.), unlicensed software usage was reported at one in four companies (25%).

And that’s just for traditional connections. Enterprises must also account for mobile devices, applications, and data. According to the BSA report, 70% of surveyed industries do not have formal policies in place concerning the connection of mobile devices to company laptops and networks.

Again, this creates substantial risk: In 2015, there were 430 million new instances of malware discovered, and 500 million records compromised through data breaches, with costs exceeding $400 billion.

What Does It Mean to Be Compliant?

At its core, compliance is an agreement to abide by the terms of a software license. Every software instance—on a computer, within a network—is bound by that license, protecting both the users (via upgrades, warranties, etc.) and the developers (via copyright laws and infringement rights).

Managing these assets can be difficult due to the increasing complexity of software agreements and the lack of effective license management practices. If you run a medium to large enterprise software suite, you could manage upwards of 70 software license contracts requiring renegotiation or renewal several times a year.

Bottom line: Multiple software contracts for multiple users across multiple departments can cause multiple headaches.

Accounting for your company’s software and the requisite licenses can quickly escalate to a full-time activity (for either a person or a department). However, the risks of not being compliant are detrimental. Running your non-compliant software can expose your business to cybersecurity risks at best, to costly litigation at worst.

The BSA report cites studies reporting effective software compliance produces up to 25% cost savings by eliminating inefficiencies from over-licensing or unused applications. Running compliant software across your enterprise is essential to business efficiency, effectiveness, and overall value.

You don’t want your business to become infamous for skirting software licensing agreements nor sunk under a tidal wave of unnecessary software costs.

How Do I Achieve and Maintain Compliance?

There are some basic steps to ensure your enterprise is compliant with its software and applications.

Assess Your IT Enterprise: Discover the software running on your network. Determine the utilization of each software copy and whether each instance is properly licensed and accounted for.

Find the Right Model: What does your business need? Look at new forms of licensing (cloud, etc.) and see if they align to your business requirements? Fully utilize maintenance and upgrade clauses to get the most out of your licensing agreements.

Establish a Compliance Culture: Ensure your business practices align to support the IT infrastructure. Develop policies and procedures to control the acquisition, deployment, and removal of authorized software and applications. Develop procedures to implement regular software upgrades per license agreements. Ensure employees understand the proper use of software and the inherent risks (security, legality, financial costs, reputation) of illegally-obtained or downloaded applications.

xAssets Software Asset Management can help your enterprise become compliant in three easy steps:

  1. Discover the entire network and remove unwanted software.
  2. Import software purchase orders and automatically match off against recognized software.
  3. Use built-in compliance reports and purchase or uninstall under-licensed software.

If you are ready to get serious about compliance, xAssets can help. You can start by visiting our website and getting a free trial of our software asset management solution. Or, feel free to contact me with any questions at barry.long@xassets.com or 800-691-9120 ext. 304.

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