Software License Compliance – a risk not worth taking?
In a recent press release on the Business Software Alliance’s Web site, the BSA’s UK-based Michala Wardell reminds anyone listening that not paying attention to compliance can results in penal costs that far outstrip the nominal cost of the software in question. The offending Scotland based organization concerned was small, and companies that think they are of no interest to the BSA because they are small are living in dreamland. Smaller organizations will likely have to agree to the BSA’s demands for financial penalties because they have no stomach for legal costs to challenge the BSA – and will in all probability lose anyway. Even an organization as small as twenty five people can be out of whack with its software if it pays no attention.
Software Assets deserve Management
The reasons that some organizations give for not investing enough time and money into software asset management can be mystifying. “We can’t afford software asset management.” There is a presumption that by not managing these assets properly they are saving more than it would cost to manage them. So, what does this organization do? Does it ensure that it’s going to be legal by consistently over-ordering? Or does it think it is saving money by consistently under-ordering – in which case it deserves to get hammered – or at least its executives do. What is for certain is that making no attempt to manage the software assets is going to result in misalignment one way or the other. The result is unecessary costs in one direction and unnecessary risk in the other. How does that look in the annual statement to shareholders? Wouldn’t it be better to be talking about a process of software asset optimization that minimizes both cost and risk?
Software Inventory and Compliance solutions – a wealth of choice
Many companies offer tools and services that can take care of this problem cost effectively. Some software inventory tools are free, some come as ‘freemium’ ware. Most of the ‘enterprise’ grade solutions are supported products, but many of these are now available on one-shot discovery, or annual rental tariffs as well as permanently licensed. There’s no excuse for doing nothing. There is also no shame in facing up to the fact that your organization has no accurate information on how many licenses it owns or where they are installed. Organizations can grow quickly, and organically. There is a never a right time to introduce rigorous software asset management, which might introduce slight delays in provisioning new employees with their IT resources. Non-compliance creeps up on you like an ailment; just make sure it doesn’t take the equivalent of a heart attack to wake you up to doing something about it!