Managing software as an asset

Minacs Worldwide recognized there were problems with how it managed software licenses, but it didn’t know just what the problems were, or how bad the situation was.

A Toronto-based business process outsourcing provider, Minacs has an IT team that manages between 4,000 and 6,000 seats running some “25 flavours” of Microsoft products, as well as various other application environments.

The company has grown rapidly through acquisition and software wasn’t being managed in a consistent and transparent way across the organization, said Michael Iseyemi, director of security and privacy officer for Minacs.

“We’ve recognized the need to have something in place for quite some time,” said Iseyemi. “However, we didn’t know how to go about it.”

Having previously worked with the Toronto office of Buchanan Associates, Minacs tapped the IT professional services firm to help it deploy Microsoft’s Software Asset Management (SAM) tool to identify all types of software the company was running, and develop a centralized, standardized software purchasing process to help it stay on track in future.

Iseyemi said the review showed Minacs was actually underutilizing some of its assets. Many were able to be depreciated or written off the books entirely.

“This not only gave us the necessary picture we were looking for, it actually confirmed what we thought…that we needed to (have) a standardization strategy and [more] effective management of our assets,” said Iseyemi.

Within a month of implementation, Iseyemi said Minacs realized $100,000 in savings through more effective software assets management, including getting rid of duplicate or unused software licenses. Savings also came from cost avoidance when the SAM tool indicated Minacs had over-budgeted on the software needed for a planned expansion.

Iseyemi said the other major change was around software purchasing. While, in the past, some branch offices were allowed to do their own purchasing, now all software purchasing is handled centrally to ensure compliance with procedures and standards.

Stephen Sweett, regional vice-president with Buchanan Associates, said there are two reasons why companies should pay more attention to software asset management: Ensuring they’re compliant with anti-piracy laws and aren’t under-licensed, and ensuring they’re not over- licensed and paying more than they need to.

“Software is a huge asset to an organization. Just as you’d manage a manufacturing plant or buildings, you need to manage that asset to make sure it’s being effectively used,” he said.

For Minacs, it is also important that it continues to view software as an asset and pay close attention to licensing and utilization, lest it falls back into the same issues it had before, Sweett said.

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