The penalties for not having correct licensing in place for the software your business uses can be steep. Here’s how to get organised, audit-ready and ensure you’re not wasting money on over-licensing.

How to get organised with software licensing

If software licence management isn’t a critical part of managing your business then there’s a chance you may be operating outside of compliance, and therefore vulnerable to a penalty. But it’s not just about being penalty-free, ensuring you have the correct licensing is definitely good for peace of mind, but it’s also an excellent way of making sure you’re not overdoing licensing and wasting money.

In complex businesses, or where there are many users, it is common to fall foul to ‘over-licensing’. Anxiety about not having enough licences and being caught short when critical work needs to be done, can cause organisations to purchase an abundance of licences that’s actually way more than they need.

Take control of your licensing

Don’t wait for bad news to come out during an audit, or until you’ve been issued a penalty. There are some logical licence management, ‘best practice’ steps you can take straightaway, to get organised with software licences.

  1. Get all your software licences, info and reminders together 
    The hardest, most time-consuming step comes first. You need a list at the very least; some kind of database of the licences you have, how many, the related information and reminders to renew/action them.  
    If you know how many licences you have, you will be able to apply them to staff as and when you need to. Don’t forget that your list/database should include licences for desktop applications as well as cloud subscriptions. For every one of these you also need to know the related costs, any service fees and maintenance obligations, and of course, dates, with reminders set, for renewal arrangements.    
  2. Get your auditable proof together the licences are yours 
    For audit purposes, it’s not enough just to have the licence. You need to have proof of purchase, in whatever form that exists, to hand. Purchase agreements may have been emailed to you, or they may be accessible via an online personal account with the vendor. However the proof pf purchase exists, get hold of it, label it and put it safe in your software database, or saving area so that you are all organised when that audit comes around. 
  3. Track costs 
    If you haven’t done anything to date towards steps one and two, you won’t have a clue how much you are actually spending on licensing. Attribute costs towards those licences, and bundles of licences. Get an annual picture of what you’ve spent in the past so you can project future expenditure. Manual tracking is fine, but better to create a system so you can pull off reports and enable analysis of what licences may be surplus to requirements, or potentially no longer needed by your organisation. The aim is for you to save money. 
  4. Make licence management part of your everyday business 
    The danger is, once you’ve carried out the above steps, you’ll put your licence repository, full of useful information to help your business and its spending, to one side. Maybe you won’t look at it again until the next audit comes around.  
    Don’t let that happen! 
    Make licence management part of your everyday business. It’s usual for the IT team to be responsible for the upkeep of licensing information and requirements, but it will need to be embedded and taken onboard with clearly communicated responsibilities for it to become what you need it to be – an audit-ready database of organised, up-to-date licence information, correctly reflecting the entire range of software your business uses.