Common IT Software Compliance Management issues


The challenges of Software usage ccompliance management are increasing, not decreasing. The process of achieving compliance on software usage through manual processes poses considerable difficulties and risks for organizations.

Therefore, an automated tool is more than a nifty gadget—it’s a necessary compliance management solution. When businesses and governmental agencies direct their IT organizations to establish a practice of software asset management to reduce IT costs and mitigate the risks of external audit, IT leaders seek technology designed and provided by commercial vendors. The expectations are seemingly straightforward—deliver functionality that supports:

  • Identifying installed software products
  • Matching installed software products to existing software licenses
  • Reporting compliance status

It sounds simple enough. In fact, products offering this type of functionality have been available for many years. Why, then, are so many organizations struggling to address the relationship between software and license, achieve desired levels of compliance and avoid audits?

The root of the problem lies in the fact that there is no single set of standards outlining how products are to be internally or externally documented or manufactured for sale and installation. Aside from the inconsistent and incomplete publisher and product names, version, edition and language data is often published without a common format—and in some cases, it is simply missing altogether.

Below are the 4 most common compliance issues — and how organisation can deal with them.

  1. No Single repository of Software Inventory Data

Most organisation have their data stored in different platform and domain. Hence there is no single source of truth or consolidated data source or based to get the actual total number of hardware and software information

Data collection can be approached in several ways, depending on the overall product design and the platform being inventoried. The traditional collection method requires installation of client software, often called an agent, though network-based interrogation and other agent-less methods are approaching equivalency. Once installed, an agent examines the software for all registry entries, file attributes and any product identification data embedded in the code to produce an inventory.

Recognition is then employed to identify the software product for which data was collected. The prevailing method of product recognition utilizes what are commonly referred to as “signatures”—content created for the sole purpose of using multiple data points to accurately identify software products. Signatures typically contain functionality for cleansing and normalization, though some tools include richer feature sets designed to associate the software inventory to various categories, such as functional, licensable/non-licensable, freeware and open source.

Done well, comprehensive signature-based product recognition can deliver a software inventory with a high degree of accuracy. However, achieving a comprehensive inventory depends entirely upon the library of available signatures.

2. Inadequate Support and Education

Effective Compliance is only achievable if everyone is on board. This is often challenging for some organizations as it involves getting everyone to realize the importance from the top down. Everyone, no matter their job function in the business, has a role to play and it’s important that this message gets across and that the correct compliance culture is encouraged especially in the acquisition and usage of cloud software.

Entire organization responsibility for compliance is necessary so that wider concern for policies, processes, and controls is encouraged to create an organization that’s compliant. So, all staff, all teams, all departments are ready to accept changes and adapt continuously for the organization to continuously comply. This requires continuous training and education for all personal.

3. Lack of Policies and Procedures to ensure Compliant Software Usage

Maintaining internal policies and procedures for installing new software is of vital importance to IT organizations who wish to remain compliant with their software license agreements. This means that making sure to:

  • Understand the terms of their software license contracts
  • Translate those terms into policies that employees must follow
  • Create processes to support those policies
  • Educate employees on those policies and processes, including what's at stake when they fail to comply
  • Continually check and verify that employees are following the policies and hold them accountable
  • Poorly kept commercial contract record: No archive or repository of contract between OEM
  • When it comes to contract terms that prohibit employees from sharing login information or loading proprietary software onto their personal machines, employees need to get the message that compliance is mandatory and necessary to avoid the negative consequences of a failed software audit.
  1. Inadequate Knowledge of Software Licensing

Understanding software licensing and proving entitlement is equally troublesome, again due to a lack of standards and legal controls. For example:

  • Software inventory as reported often does not correspond to purchase records, due to shortened or abbreviated product titles and the use of trade names and multiple SKUs representing a single software product sold in different ways.
  • Suites and promotional bundles have with individual components that are indistinguishable from separately purchased products.
  • Infinite license models with new schemes continue to emerge and evolve.
  • Multiple license models based on logical relationships involve elements that do not physically exist and therefore cannot be inventoried, such as most client access licenses (CAL).

These difficulties, along with the challenges posed by misnamed attributes, trial software, bundles and signature development, combine to significantly increase the amount of manual effort required to produce an accurate software inventory and properly manage licenses.

Mitigation Approach to counter these challenges and boost compliance
  1. Software Compliance Through Automation

Leveraging a solution that enables more efficient software inventory and license management processes eliminates a multitude of manual tasks while mitigating legal and regulatory risks and addressing associated costs. Specifically, this solution should offer visibility into an organization’s software environment in such a way that all software licenses, use rights and supporting purchase data are automatically associated to their respective discovered software.

The process of simplifying the everyday complexities of software license management begins with the implementation of several tasks designed to automate the administrative tasks of matching licenses to their discovered instances. At minimum, such automation should help organizations to:

  1. Import license data and parameters from spreadsheets and other structured data sources
  2. Develop a library of templates with predefined license models for the top software publishers’ products
  • Map dependencies and define relationships as necessary to support complex licensing requirements
  1. Support dependent licenses, such as upgrades
  2. Produce reports and dashboard views of compliance status
  3. Cleanse data to facilitate normalization and classification
  • Facilitate the development of a database of up-to-date software inventory and trusted license compliance information
  • Integrate inventory data across the business

2. Build strong and adaptable foundations

Organisation should strive to standardize processes across compliance regulations and implement best possible frameworks and standards. Compliance strategies and policies need to evolve to meet software agreement changes.

Generally, it is better to move with the times with regards to technology as opposed to having SAM polices that are left unreviewed or updated.

3. New technologies need new skills

As technologies and software evolve, so do the licensing models and the skills needed to support the compliant of use of such software. This means that you need to ensure you have the right skill sets available to support these changes to maintain compliance of all the software within your IT estate. This may require injecting experts with specific Software licensing knowledge into your already existing SAM Organization or totally outsourcing the entire SAM practice. We at Thamani can help you achieve both so that you can focus on more strategic core functions.

Conclusion

Organizations can ensure compliance with software license agreements by clarifying contract terms, penalties and user license definitions with each software vendor, and shouldn't be afraid to bring in external help to negotiate and interpret the finer points of these complex deals.

Organizations also need to establish a unified system for tracking software licenses and usage, and they need to use that system to keep records that are detailed and accurate. IT organizations need visibility into what applications are installed on the various endpoints and it is crucial that all software installations and licensing within the business is reflected in the software asset management application.

We at Thamani can help with a range of services to avoid these pitfalls explained above. We provide a full SAM service that range from the provision and implementation of a SAM tool to providing seasoned SAM experts to help manage your day to day SAM needs. Do schedule a consultative call through any of channel below so that we can plan on ways to help you out.