For large and growing firms, better management of software licenses is an important goal to work towards, as it will help to keep them legal and informed at all times. However, many do not know where to start with license management, or know which practices to follow when undergoing the task. Here, we have compiled our five best practices for license management, to give you a better idea of the process and provide a starting point.
1. Gather your software licenses & related information. Produce a list of all your software licenses and place them in a central repository of some kind. This will give you a good idea of your license entitlement, meaning which licenses you have the legal right to use and assign to employees. These days, this includes not only desktop applications, but all cloud subscriptions as well, so be sure that you are aware of that. In addition to the actual licenses you have, gather all related information that will be important to have around when you need it such as purchase costs, maintenance contracts, and service fees. We want to be honest with you – this is no easy process! Bringing together all of this information into one central location may take significant time and effort, but it is a critical first step in proper license management and will allow you to easily monitor license usage and assign licenses as needed.
2. Prove what you have. After gathering all your organization’s licenses, it is important to be able to prove that you are entitled to them. As mentioned above, this means storing not just licenses, but related information and contracts. Should your firm be audited, you must be able to provide proof of purchase, and this may vary based on different vendors. Make sure you know which vendors require which kinds of proof documents, and match these to their respective licenses. Do not rely on your email inbox for license documents – it’s not enough. Important purchase documents, license agreements, and maintenance contracts must be saved and tracked, but can easily get lost in a cluttered email inbox. Instead, make sure you store these documents in an important and central location, such as an installed license management system or another program to assist with this task.
3. Continually track costs and spending. Many organizations find that they are inadvertently wasting money on licenses because they lack the knowledge to manage these costs. Do a breakdown of your software expenditure to get a clear picture of all costs and costs per user. Create reports to get a better understanding of past, current, and future expenditure to know your patterns and plan accordingly. Future expenditure is an especially important metric to be aware of, as it can help you estimate what you are likely to spend in the future and therefore optimize as needed. These reports can also tell you license and budget availability, so you can put these resources to optimal use. This tracking can be done manually, but you may find it much easier to employ a system to help you with these tasks, as they can become numerous.
4. Set reminders. During the busy workday, it can be difficult to remember all of the tasks that must be completed, and some tend to inevitably slip the mind. Just as you would set everyday meeting times on your desktop calendar, employ this process for license reminders. License subscription renewals, maintenance times, and approvals should all be set as reminders, through email or another channel of your choice. Without reminders, these crucial events can go unnoticed, which will make you fall behind in compliance and up-to-date license management.
5. Make proper software license management a critical part of your business. Lastly, it is important to make license management a business priority. This means informing all necessary employees of the steps to be taken, and simply outlining the process to others, even if it is not part of their department. The IT team should take the reins on creating process and procedures to be followed, and clearly explain them to the appropriate teams. If everyone is kept informed and proper practices are in place, license management will become a normal part of the business, and your organization will never have to worry about meeting compliance requirements.