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Maximising your IT budget in 2021 and beyond by Libby Bagley

Maximising budgets is nothing new, but after such a challenging year, there’s more pressure than ever to account for all expenses in almost every industry sector. Within IT departments, focus on mitigating costs usually centres around hardware, and with so many businesses paying out for expensive devices to enable their employees to work from home, this is understandable. Organisations are likely to spend their time and effort arranging the bulk buying of physical items for less costly deals, but it’s also important to consider software within your budget.

Because software licenses aren’t as tangible they might not be on your radar. However, keeping an eye on costs in this area can be much more complicated and it’s easy for costs to spiral out of control.

Ensure you aren’t wasting budget by tracking and monitoring software licenses

Even before the prevalence of remote working, automatically tracking licenses was a challenge. Now that most businesses have employees accessing software from different locations, at different times, across different devices, it becomes even more difficult.

Navigating the complications of SaaS and Cloud subscriptions is essential to gaining control of spend, and the only way to do this is to have complete visibility of your entire IT estate. Collecting inventory data is imperative, allowing you to understand what is installed or subscribed to (and therefore what licenses you have across your estate) so that you can begin to optimise this.

Being fully aware of your organisation’s usage is the first step towards making sure you’re not wasting any money. This allows you to immediately remove duplicated and unused licenses. The simple act of removing multiple accounts aligned to individuals could save you thousands of pounds.

It’s also a great opportunity to streamline your software usage companywide. Having complete visibility means you can ensure all staff members are using the same software, enabling you to remove similar products that aren’t, or shouldn’t, be being used, making sure you’re on the most suitable plan for your needs with your vendor. The benefits of standardising your software licenses go beyond budgets, however; it reduces security risks by ruling out the possibility of out of date software, and it simply improves communication and collaboration between team members.

Recycling and reducing wasted licenses

January brought with it the news that the pandemic had driven the UK unemployment rate to 5%; a four-year high. However, more than half (56%) of UK employers also plan to recruit more staff within the next three months. It’s clear therefore, that most companies are going to face a year of busy personnel changes.

With this often comes a mad scramble to buy hardware for these new starters, but once again, it’s important not to forget about software.

Having a solid ‘leavers and movers’ policy in place minimises the risk of unused licenses. If someone leaves your organisation, you may need to still continue with an agreement once they’ve gone, but being aware that a license is available just means you have software on hand for new staff. If someone is leaving their role and you don’t have plans to replace them, this software can be removed as soon as an agreement has ended.

It’s not unusual for organisations to over-license by up to 30%. It’s something we come across quite regularly but of course leads to a significant overspend.

Software asset management tools have evolved in recent months and years to become more agile, allowing users from different departments, including finance, to extract just the information they need, in real-time and in a digestible format. The availability of this data, coupled with the visibility of your IT estate can help you reduce costs and ensure you’re not spending a penny more than you need to.

Libby Bagley is Community Manager at License Dashboard, which specialises in software asset management and licensing expertise for large and fast-growing organisations.