Archived News Article
Richard Willmott, General Manager, FAST Corporate Services, discusses the best strategy for companies to gain overall control over their IT infrastructure.
N-Power Yorkshire Ltd (previously Yorkshire Electricity Group) has managed to reduce its budget by 15 per cent year on year; Braintree Council has saved £1 million and Scottish Widows have saved half a million. How?
Through software compliance. Vast chunks of an IT budget can be saved during the course of a year by ensuring that software is accounted for and properly licensed. It is estimated that on average a company can save between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of its IT budget by introducing a compliance programme.
In many respects, contrary to popular belief, IT should not be viewed as a cost centre but as an integral part of business strategy. While continuing expenditure in IT is difficult during an economic slump, targeted investment can realise significant overall cost savings.
In terms of these figures, it is staggering to find that so many organisations have not yet undertaken a compliance project and do not recognise the potentially huge cost savings involved.
On the contrary, corporate piracy levels are currently running at 26 per cent in the UK. This figure is especially surprising when you consider that Microsoft licensing changes required all companies to be able to prove compliance by 31st July 2002.
Probably one of the biggest incentives for companies to become compliant is the consequences of being found to be involved in software piracy. Not only can this result in a hefty fine, but can also lead to a criminal record and a possible prison sentence for company directors, which does little for a business's reputation. For example, Hampshire police recently found itself in the situation where it was caught having purchased £5 million worth of counterfeit software for themselves and 20 other police forces. On discovery, the culprit guilty of supplying the software was fined and imprisoned for two years.
The essential component for any software compliance plan is the audit, which can lead to cost savings throughout the business, not just the IT department. First, substantial cost reductions are possible by checking if the company posseses too much software for its requirements. Unless you audit your software you won't know what software you have installed or where it is located. You probably have many versions of the same package or have several packages that do the same job in different parts of the company. You may not know until someone experiences a problem with it, which may require an upgrade, more training, or a time-consuming search for a solution.
The audit can identify your software for you and the reconciliation will highlight any software that needs to be upgraded, redeployed, shortfalls rectified or licence agreements renegotiated. Simply by standardising on a single version application, or on one type of e-mail client, you immediately cut the burden on your support service - and slash your training costs at the same time. You may also save money on hardware upgrades, by concentrating your hardware where it's needed and cutting down on panic purchasing. The process for becoming software compliant is quite simple and can be done in four easy steps:
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