With recent growth in software audits, there is growing anxiety amongst many corporate IT professionals that they may fall foul of software licensing laws. With the negative effects of such circumstances including budget loss through non-compliance fines, coupled with the occasional tendency for some individuals to go rogue with their software usage, these concerns are understandable. But with a proper licensing compliance plan in place, there should be no need to worry
5 Steps to ensure volume software licensing compliance
For any IT director or purchaser working for a mid-large organisation, the ins and outs of the company’s various software licence agreements, and ensuring organisation-wide compliance with these, can be a significant time drain. But in light of the recent upsurge in software audits carried out by major software vendors such as Adobe, Microsoft and IBM, it is becoming even more important to stay on top of product licensing minutiae.
So today we’re going to look at five ways that you can ensure product licensing compliance, particularly when deal dealing with bulk licences.
1. Create an inventory of everything in your office
Ensuring software compliance and preparing for any potential audits will be virtually impossible if you’re not aware of the entire lay of the land, both human and machine. A simple spreadsheet or similar containing this information can be invaluable and should contain details of:
All staff/users within the organisation at all levels
All computers, mobiles, tablets and other hardware used
All software installed/used
It may take some time to collate all of this information, but once you have it you can keep it regularly updated, creating a valuable snapshot of your current hardware/user/software environment.
2. Collect a record of all the licences and entitlement to use software
The next step towards good product licensing compliance is to record accurate details of all software licences currently held across the business. This is essential, as if you are audited you will need to provide evidence of each licence for software used or you may incur substantial costs for unauthorised software (even if you’ve simply mislaid records of the license) and fines for non-compliance.
If you are unable to locate some licences, this is an ideal time to get in touch with your provider and ask them to send you a copy. Additionally, if you find any spare licences during this process, be sure to redeploy them where needed to ensure cost-effectiveness.
Once you have all of the licences, it’s a good idea to keep them together securely in one place, using professional OCR technology, such as that offered by Power PDF, to scan paper copies and archive digital copies as required.
3. Ensure you understand the terms and conditions thoroughly
With all of the licences together in one place, it’s time to take the potentially lengthy but wholly necessary step of actually reading all terms and conditions stipulated in each. In doing so you should pay particular attention to:
How many people are allowed to use the software
What the software is allowed to be used for under the current licence
Licence expiry dates and additional provisos or clauses for usage
It’s often the case that businesses have to face the consequences and penalties of breaching a software licensing agreement not because they have willfully done so, but because they have been unaware of their compliance requirements, so make sure that you read all of the small print.
If any of your software licences seem unwieldy, unfit for purpose or designed to catch you out, you might wish to investigate flexible alternatives that offer hassle-free volume licensing solutions.
4. Introduce a software usage policy
Once you’ve got a decent handle on the various software agreements you currently have, it can be highly beneficial to create a policy that will make new or updated software licences to handle in future. The policy, which should detail how employees are expected to use software and what processes they need to adhere to gain access to additional software, should be summarised in a statement in your employment manual, and updated whenever changes need to be made. You should also make sure that everyone is aware of what is expected of them by asking them to sign a software usage policy.
5. Consider locking all systems to require permission for new software installs
Particularly in larger organisations, it’s highly possible that some individuals or departments will try to circumvent the official channels for obtaining and using new software. To prevent this from occurring, and potentially putting you in breach of licensing laws, it’s recommended that you lock down all systems within the organisation so that users need to obtain proper permission from your team before installing. Additionally, if you replace software at any point, be sure to delete the old programs from all users’ machines.
Finally, you can streamline your software licensing procedures significantly by choosing software which offers a simple volume licensing programme which is easy to manage. Nuance’s Power PDF, for example, offers flexible licensing policies and perpetual licences to provide effective PDF solutions for larger requirements of more than 10 seats. Visit our dedicated volume licensing page to find out more.