Unauthorized Software Usage: Gaining Cooperation and Control

By Lisa Erickson-Harris

Unauthorized application usage threatens effective software license management in the enterprise for a host of reasons. Mobility, freeware, decentralized IT procurement, and access to software solutions via the cloud are all complicating factors. Yet, at the crux of the issue lies human nature. We all want to be in charge of our own destiny, success and well-being; we feel hampered when we perceive that we lack the appropriate tools to do the job.

Executives, CIOs and IT administrators all have a need to gain control over IT resources and costs. For software, expense and license compliance risk drive the need to control software procurement, license allocation and distribution. Visibility associated with software costs—especially unbudgeted costs related to software license audits, and the competitive advantage that can be achieved for the company via technology has placed effective software asset management (SAM) high on the list of CXO management prioritiesinside and outside of IT. With so many avenues for acquiring software, real control over software is difficult to attain.

Employees are typically trying to help themselves get a job done rather than attempting to avoid following systems and policies. The question to ask when it comes to software asset management is “how can IT provide the service needed to facilitate access to tools?” Some approaches include:

  • Accessibility. SAM should offer companies and end users a streamlined and efficient process for gaining access to critical software in order to reduce the motive to acquire unauthorized software. This process should be simple, intuitive and ensure that requests, approvals and distribution of software all works quickly and seamlessly. If the process takes too long, frustration will set in and prompt employees to seek alternative means.
  • Penalties. Many organizations have used punitive action in response to unauthorized software usage. Examples include financial impacts such as reduction in bonus amounts, elimination of merit pay and documentation in personnel files. This is a “stick” approach where the company is reprimanding, sometimes publicly, employees that do not follow procedures. While this approach sends a strong message, it also has an impact on the culture of the workplace. Negative energy will typically create a corresponding drain on productivity.
  • Reward. A reward system can be used instead of penalties to create examples of good performance when employees follow corporate software policies. The “carrot” will build loyalty and improve employee perception of the corporation, enhancing corporate momentum.
  • Proactive Planning. Staying ahead of organizational software needs will go a long way to avoiding unauthorized usage. Continuous dialog with both business unit executives and users can be used to develop a purchasing plan for software. Communication to let software users know that IT is on top of its needs will result in better collaboration.

Deploying an enterprise app store to handle the request, approval and distribution process for software is now a viable option as well. This approach meets the human need for users to “take matters into their own hands” while IT is able to maintain control of the software procurement, approval and distribution process.

There are several enterprise app stores on the market – the best choice will provide integration of the app store with a software asset management solution to allow the organization to proactively maintain license compliance, manage software costs, minimize the use of unauthorized software, and maximize utilization of existing (approved) software assets. Further, a user-friendly app store, combined with rewards and communication will help IT reduce the frequency of helpdesk calls and reduce the overhead associated with the software fulfillment processes. The result is lower software and IT management costs, reduced exposure to license compliance issues and improved end user satisfaction.

To learn more about an integrated approach to enterprise app stores and Software License Optimization solutions, please read our newsletter: Increase ROI by Integrating an Enterprise App Store with Your Software License Optimization Solution 

 

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