Most firms guilty of 'lax' software policy

Careless tracking of software use means companies are not only paying for unused applications, but are opening themselves up to a piracy charge if licences have expired, according to a study
Written by Munir Kotadia, Contributor

An international PC management survey shows that most companies have not implemented a software compliance policy, which means they could unknowingly be using unlicensed software and face prosecution. The survey also showed that a significant proportion of companies waste money by paying for software that they do not use.

The quarterly survey, which is carried out on behalf of desktop management solutions company Vector Networks, asked around 1,500 technology professionals -- almost half of whom are based in Europe -- about software compliance procedures in their organisations.

According to the survey, more than 56 percent of all respondents did not have a software compliance programme. From the organisations that did have such a programme, almost 60 percent used manual monitoring methods. Using either a manual or software solution seemed to bring some cost savings, with around a fifth of respondents estimating they had managed to cut between 10 and 20 percent from their software costs.

Karen Smith, research director at the Aberdeen Group, said in a statement: "You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Precise discovery is the first and most critical step in any asset management programme." According to Smith, most large enterprises own about 30 percent more software and related equipment than they believe they do or can account for.

The Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) believes that companies could save money by auditing their software use and weeding out unnecessary licence fees. Geoff Webster, chief executive of FAST said in a statement: "Vast chunks of an IT budget can be saved by ensuring that software is accounted for and properly licensed. Not only that, but the consequences of being found to be involved in software piracy can result in a hefty fine, a criminal record and a possible prison sentence for company directors."

According to the Software and Information Industry Association, a formal software compliance programme monitors software licences and exposes unused, out-of-date or unlicensed software running on the network.

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