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Software spend contributes a significant chunk to the IT budget and to a large degree many organisations view this as a sunk cost and part of the plumbing.  Smart organisations however are starting to question this spend as austerity measures become the norm and budgets get more and more squeezed.

Why is it that we waste money on unused software and what are the underlying reasons for doing this?  If we could manage this cost element more effectively, could savings be taken to the bottom line or better yet, provide fuel for innovation elsewhere?

Let us examine some of the main reasons why you are wasting money:

Licensing models

Let’s face it, the large vendors are smart and want to make your life ‘easier’ by getting you to buy into the concept of enterprise agreements (EA).  These cover you from a compliance perspective and ensure you get the most bang for your buck, at least that is what they are telling you!

It is true that in all likelihood you are getting the best commercial deal by entering an enterprise agreement but are you extracting the most value.  It may surprise you to hear that research shows that as much as 30% of software deployed in organisations is not actually used, much of this may be covered under an EA.  If you are deploying software and it is not being used you are realising no business value at significant cost.

By understanding exactly what is used in the organisation and by whom, organisations can enter vendor negotiations in a position of strength.  By understanding software usage more effectively, investments in enterprise agreements can be tailored to meet actual requirements, not requirements based on guesses and assumptions.  This requires investment in the right tools.

Deployment approach

Many organisations we engage with have adopted a ‘profiles’ based approach to software deployment.  This assumes a base configuration is deployed to everyone in the organisation (or subsets of the organisation), which obviously includes all the associated licensing.  Out of the norm apps are then managed on an ad hoc basis.

Whilst at face value this seems like a sound approach, the reality is that this results in significant unused software as one size does not fit all and much of the ‘standard configuration’ goes untouched, attracting unnecessary maintenance and support costs.

It is true that a base configuration should be deployed but this should really be stripped down to the bare bones.  By adopting a user centric or self-service approach with internal software portals users can get access to software as and when they need it and better yet, just rent it for the period that they need it.  This tied with an effective metering solution (more below) will ensure that software is there when you need it and removed when it becomes redundant.

Inefficient tooling

Management tools perhaps contribute the most to the proliferation of software waste in organisations.  The lack of visibility that these tools provide in terms of usage leads to bad decision making and complacency when it comes to cost savings.

It is true that many of the native toolsets provide software metering but they have limitations.  Often a client is required to pick and choose the ten or so apps that they want to meter as anything beyond that causes chaos within the infrastructure.  In this scenario, the usual low hanging fruit like Acrobat, Project and Visio are chosen but it is the software that you don’t know about which is often the cause of your problems.

This all boils down to the maxim, “you don’t know what you don’t know”.  To be effective in managing your software and the usage thereof you need a tool like AppClarity from 1E that provides metering information across all vendors and all products instantaneously.  It is often the specialised software that incurs significant cost where much of the savings can be realised.

Software usage information becomes critical if you want to optimise your software spend and once you know if something is being used or not you can make informed decisions around what actions to take.  Again, a tool like AppClarity allows you to build policies that automatically reclaim unused software with no administrator intervention.  In so doing this averts either future maintenance costs or future license purchases through reallocation.


Software licensing is a massive cost in an organisation and the traditional ways that software is licensed, deployed and managed needs to be completely overhauled.  The smart organisation is that one that eliminates waste and ensures that licensed software is used for the purpose that it was bought.  If it is not used, it is simply waste.

Author: Tim James

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