Recession hits companies’ software asset management plans

York - 14 May 2009

Independent market research commissioned by Trustmarque Solutions, specialists in all facets of software management, has shown that the recession has had a marked impact on organisations’ ability to manage their software assets.

The research, undertaken by Dynamic Markets in April 2009, found that 91 percent of senior IT managers and directors in large UK organisations say their handling of software assets has been affected, with 67 percent saying that as a result of the recession they now have fewer staff to manage those assets. The reductions in personnel are most common among mid-sized organisations with between 251 and 1000 workstations (78 percent). Smaller firms with between 30 and 250 workstations have also been affected, but to a lesser extent (50 percent).

With vendors’ revenues also hit by the recession, that has led to an increase in audit activity of their current customers. 35 percent of respondents have found vendors wanting to audit their customers’ software estate to check their licensing is up-to-date and accurate. In addition, one in four organisations (26 percent) who have been hit by an audit believes it to be the result of whistle-blowing by a former employee.

Budget cuts as a result of the recession have also meant that organisations are making more software purchases online with 51 percent of organisations buying via the Web, while 16 percent of organisations say there has been panic buying of software licences to ensure that the company is protected against audits that could cost scarce company funds in challenging times.

The research does, however, demonstrate a more positive message and a rising profile for software asset management within organisations. 81 percent of senior IT managers and directors say software licensing is given more attention now than it was two years ago before the recession took hold. Indeed, the fact that the profile of software licensing has increased among more of those organisations that have experienced an increase in audits from software vendors (91 percent) against those that have not (74 percent) suggests that the audits have gained the attention of the Board. This is particularly so in the case of large organisations where 62 percent are definite about the increase in attention, against 32 percent in mid-sized organisations.

The ‘Software Asset Management: Impact of the Recession’ quantitative research by Dynamic Markets, based on a sample of 101 senior IT managers, CIOs and IT Directors at organisations with at least 250 employees and 30 workstations across all its sites, also paints an important picture of how software or end user licenses are procured within the organisation. 91 percent of respondents believe aspects of the process could be improved, with a key factor being the need for IT departments to be consulted by procurement or department heads before software licences are purchased (62 percent). 60 percent of respondents also believe IT should run a check on what software the company has prior to purchase.

Importantly, 1 in 2 IT professionals (50 percent) believe their organisations should take greater steps to re-harvest their licences when employees leave or a PC is retired. This is particularly important in the recession where organisations have seen employees leave, but may not yet have taken action to redistribute licences correlating to their machines. Meanwhile, 46 percent believe the process of purchasing software and end user licences should be less ad hoc, while 26 percent say fewer online software purchases should be made within their organisation.

Could self-auditing of software licences help organisations regain and maintain control of their software licensing situation? The vast majority of respondents believe so, and all of the organisations do carry out their own software audits. However, 1 in 2 (48 percent) only carry them out every 6 months or less frequently, with the risk that that the licensing situation may be less dynamic – or indeed, accurate - than the organisation would like.

In all, the survey points to a lack of certainty among IT professionals about their licensing regime. 83 percent of respondents are not completely confident that their organisation has exactly the correct number of software licences in place. Only 17 percent of respondents are completely sure that if a software vendor were to audit them, they would have the correct amount of licences.

Commenting on the research results, Scott Haddow, CEO for Trustmarque Solutions says, “This research has given a unique insight into the challenges that organisations are facing when it comes to managing their software assets. It is clear that IT managers and CIOs are concerned that they may face imminent challenges to justify their licensing position in the face of a rise in vendor audits. With funds scarce in the face of the recession, there is a risk for many companies that they may not be able to match up to vendor scrutiny, and may urgently require specialist consultancy to help them true up their license position before they receive notice of a vendor audit.”

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