If you’re expecting a software license audit in the coming year, a constant worry is that the number of licenses you have purchased will deviate too much from the number of software applications actually used. Without a good overview of the relation between purchased and actually used licenses, your organization runs the risk of incurring a substantial fine. Added to which, your software costs may turn out higher than necessary, because some licenses may not be used at all.
This is a common problem for many organizations, and occurs when new employees enter service and the privileges of employees in similar functions are copied to their user accounts. This often includes rights to applications the employee may not actually need. In other cases, temporary access rights to applications that employees require for a particular project are not revoked once the project has been completed. Or worse still, accounts by employees who have left employment are not terminated. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why the number of licenses actually used might not match the number of purchased licenses.
So, how can you solve this problem and manage your license costs more effectively while preparing for future software license audits? There are several options:
Employ automated user provisioning and role-based access control tools: Using the HR system as the source system for creating, modifying and removing user accounts and authorizations, employees can be assigned temporary access to the network and the applications they need. In the licensing context, this ensures that the rights of former employees are revoked in a timely fashion. Combined with role-based access control (RBAC) – a solution that lets you assign rights based on the role or title of employees – rights will only be assigned once consensus has been reached on the applications that employees actually require for their daily work.
Use dashboards to monitor software access and activity: Provide IT managers, systems administrators and application administrators with a dashboard that lists the number of times an application has been launched by an employee, the number of minutes the application has been used, as well as the idle time in minutes. If an application remains unused for a long period, the application can be revoked or the user can be given a warning. The total license costs and the status of used applications can be mapped out using an interface with a facility management system or IT service management system.
Passive auditing: Periodically communicate with managers and send them an overview of the rights and applications to which his or her team has access. This reporting can take place, for instance, once every three months, once a year, etc. (for the software license audit). Managers can thus conveniently check whether everything is in order and give their approval. They can also make changes, which will be implemented directly.
To make a long story short, if you are expecting a license cost audit in the near future and want to prevent fines or to cut your license costs, make sure to take the right precautions.
About the Author
Dean Wiech is managing director of Tools4ever, an identity and access management vendor.