December 30, 2022

3 min

How Software Assessments Increase Savings and Improve Security

Organizations that don’t understand their software footprint may face unnecessary costs and compliance issues.

Software is the engine that drives business today, but you’d be surprised by how many organizations are unsure which software products are in their environment. Organizations often don’t know everything a particular product does, who’s using it or whether it’s the best tool for the job. This lack of visibility can lead to unnecessary spending, security vulnerabilities and compliance issues. 

The pandemic exacerbated software sprawl because organizations had no time to plan effectively as they rapidly added new tools for collaboration and file management. They also had to quickly purchase new endpoint devices such as laptops, so employees often used whatever pre-installed software was available, regardless of whether it met enterprise standards. 

One of the best ways to address these issues is by conducting a software assessment: a proactive way to understand and optimize an organization’s software environment while maintaining compliance with software license requirements. The more organizations know about what they have installed, the less likely they are to fall out of compliance or use multiple products unnecessarily.

Software Assessments Provide Visibility for Better Decision-Making

When CDW conducts software assessments for customers, we commonly find they are running multiple products that accomplish the same thing. In some cases, there are good reasons to do so, but this should be an intentional decision rather than an unintended outcome. For instance, an assessment can alert an organization that it has six products for multifactor authentication or three products that handle storage. In some cases, the organization may be able to cut costs by getting rid of unneeded software.

A more significant issue, though, is security. In addition to the fact that unauthorized software may not meet an organization’s security standards, there’s also the issue of patches and updates. A server may have those updates, but end users may not, which can lead to gaps in security.

Software assessments also help organizations improve contract management. Advance planning for renewal of large, expensive enterprise agreements is essential. For example, if an organization plans to downsize a contract, it may need to give 30 to 60 days’ notice, or the contract will renew automatically. Even if a contract expires, legacy users may continue using associated software, which means the organization will continue to pay for it. Assessments can also reveal opportunities to roll disparate contracts into a single purchasing agreement.

Maintain Compliance with Software Licensing Requirements

Lack of visibility can also result in compliance issues. When an organization purchases software, it must abide by the licensing agreement it signs with the vendor. However, some vendors enable users to download products that the organization doesn’t own. Or, employees may use software beyond the scope of a licensing agreement. In these cases, a software audit conducted by a trade group such as the Business Software Alliance (BSA) may reveal that the organization is out of compliance with its licensing agreement, leaving it liable to pay costs and fines incurred for its noncompliant use of software. 

Organizations with a software assessment policy in place essentially conduct their own reporting and auditing. This makes it less likely that an external organization (such as the BSA) will go to the time and expense of conducting an audit. Overall, software assessments can save an organization significantly in the time and costs associated with an audit.

Enlist the Right Products and Partners for Software Assessments

When an organization decides to conduct a software assessment, a great first step is to contact its CDW account manager to discuss products and services that can help. For instance, when an organization is approaching the renewal of a costly contract, that’s an excellent time to investigate exactly what is installed and who is using it. CDW may also provide recommendations to optimize an organization’s software environment.

Conducting a software assessment is a process that requires an organizational commitment, but the upside is that it often leads to future cost savings. Taking the time for a thorough review of the data can ensure that proper standards and security are in place, and unnecessary expenditures are eliminated.

Most organizations should conduct software assessments regularly, providing a touchpoint for team members to review the software report and plan for upcoming renewals. The more an organization knows and understands its software footprint, the more likely it is to be productive, secure and cost-effective.

Story by Phillip Pollicove, who manages a team of field software experts driving services and solutions growth within the Eastern region of the U.S. as well as CDW’s Software Business Development team, working with customers to optimize their software portfolios. His teams work across customer and industry verticals to assess client environments and business goals to help deliver the best software solutions for CDW’s clients. They also address a range of business objectives including disaster recovery, redundancy and migrations to cloud-based strategies.