Many IT pros struggle with software licenses

Most companies are acquiring more and more applications these days. And that leaves IT with an unenviable and seemingly impossible task: making sense of all the various licenses that come with this software. 

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) recently released a report that shows just how much confusion this causes. When asked if their software was licensed correctly, only 48% were very confident it was.

That shows that many of these IT pros are knowingly (or unknowingly) exposing themselves to risk. Unlicensed or incorrectly licensed software can expose companies to:

  • security risks from unrecognized or outdated software
  • fines for violating licensing terms, and
  • lack of support for security and productivity.

Users are confused about licenses, too

In addition to IT pros, most users also have some fundamental problems understanding software licensing. Much of this comes down to them not even knowing if their company has policies for licensing software.

When asked if their organizations had written policies on software licenses:

  • 32% of users said their company had informal policies
  • 26% said they had written policies, and
  • 42% weren’t sure or indicated the company had no policies.

Contrast that with 86% of IT managers who said their companies do have software license policies in place and you can see that these users aren’t getting the message.

Cloud makes it easier

Software-as-a-service, or cloud apps, only makes it easier for users to acquire software – and violate the terms of use.

Here are some ways to make sure licenses don’t fall through the cracks with software acquisition:

  • Get it in writing. If your organization has unwritten or informal policies (or even doesn’t have policies), make sure you get them in writing ASAP. This goes a long way toward eliminating confusion.
  • Make users aware. Keep users in the loop on your licensing policies. Make sure they know who does or doesn’t have the authority to acquire software for business (this will go a long way toward combating shadow IT as well).
  • Take stock. Conduct an internal audit to find out not only which programs users are running, also which versions they’re on. Very outdated versions could be a sign that licenses were never acquired or have been allowed to lapse.
  • Enforce password rules. Password policies are essential. They should prohibit shared user accounts and passwords, a major way companies run afoul of licenses.