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UK Businesses Exposed to Software Compliance Problems

The Federation Against Software Theft : 12 March, 2010  (Technical Article)
With the vast majority of UK businesses failing to use software asset management tools to manage their licensing, the Federation Against Software Theft is warning of compliance problems resulting from poor asset awareness
Over 98% of UK businesses are failing to use software asset management (SAM) to help reduce the legal risk of non-compliance, according to research undertaken by IDC and commissioned by the Software Industry Research Board (SIRB).

Of the 400 organisations that participated in the survey, a staggering 98.75% did not see legal compliance as a crucial corporate objective driving SAM corporate policies.

When asked "What goals is your organisation trying to achieve with your SAM programme?" the most common answer was to make sure that the organisation made it through an audit without paying settlement fees with 62% of respondents, clearly unaware of the financial and operational benefits of effective software management.

Other priorities organisations identified as key factors to managing their software estates included:

* Purchasing as few software licences as the organisation needs - 55%
* Implied organisational goals and objectives - 56%
* Optimising use of licenses - 53%
* Legal compliance was only stated by 1.25% which means that an astonishing 98.75% do not see this as a critical business objective of SAM

The research also highlighted the key role individuals felt they had within the software asset management or software licence management function. The overwhelming majority of respondents stated that their role was simply to plan for - and acquire - new licenses. Only one third of the sample of 600 questioned felt that their role was to oversee the entire SAM/SLM process.

Key findings:

* 82% of those questioned felt their role was no more than planning for acquiring new licences. The role of actual acquisition was also stated by 82% of the sample
* 81% distributed licenses to the necessary users, while 75% cited that funding new licences fell within their job remit
* 67% stated that the role also included an element of reconciliation between licences bought and installed
* Only 44% felt their role included licence retirement

The research highlighted that unfortunately there are barriers to the effective implementation of SAM which is deterring its adoption and impact:

* The primary barrier most often cited by respondents was a lack of budget - raised by 45.5% of those questioned
* 24.5% stated that lack of technical knowledge of the issues was the single most important barrier to SAM adoption, while
* The perceived lack of importance within the organisation itself was quoted by 19%

The findings of the survey have formed the basis of a new White Paper: UK Software Asset Management Maturity, commissioned by the SIRB and conducted by IDC, which will be formally launched at the beginning of March.

The results of the research will form the content matter of the SIRB's second UK Software Management and Licensing Conference which is taking place on Wednesday 21st, April 2010 at the Madejski Stadium in Reading.

Alex Hilton, Chairman of the SIRB and Director of Infrastructure Management at FrontRange Solutions, comments: "Reduced compliance risks, controlling software costs and reduced labour costs in managing software must be seen by organisations large and small as an attractive proposition in today's economic climate. But this research has highlighted one fact only - that SAM and SLM appear to be at the bottom of a long list of priorities.

"We recommend that organisations look seriously at making one individual responsible for overseeing SAM programmes but engagement from other areas is crucial as well as Board buy-in. This is about licence management and asset management and how these processes are managed throughout an organisation. What is clear from this research is that even in organisations that have some form of SAM in place, processes and programmes are not maintained and there is little understanding of the benefits."

John Lovelock, Chief Executive of The Federation Against Software Theft and Investors in Software (FAST IiS) founders of SIRB added: "SAM is more than just doing the bare minimum to avoid being fined as part of an audit process. That is just one side of the compliance coin. An effective SAM programme will help the bottom line in the overwhelming majority of organisations as they can manage their software estate to match their needs today."

"The picture the data paints is one of organisations failing to understand that the applications they use are business assets, and must be managed like other revenue generating assets under their control. Company executives are squandering the opportunity to gain better control of these assets through managing software licenses more effectively; ensuring all employees are aware of the organisations' software licensing business objectives and adhere to processes and procedures to ensure that the objectives are achieved."
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