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10 Considerations for Software Optimisation

You might be more familiar with this process by its old name – the software harvesting process. However, the proliferation of SaaS products and subscriptions means for most SAM teams the focus is shifting away from uninstalling unused software to optimising subscriptions, which is why we decided to change the name.

Put Your Best Foot Forward When Optimising Software

In fact, I would argue that in many organisations, a SAM team’s time is better spent focusing on improving the process for managing subscriptions than identifying unused perpetual licenses that could be reused. After all, you may never reuse those uninstalled licenses, whereas optimising subscriptions saves money off the bottom line, which is a guaranteed way to make you popular!

Here are our top 10 tips when considering the whys and wherefores of this process:

  1. Build a business case for recycling / optimising software – software optimisation is a time consuming process, which makes it expensive. You need to be sure running this process is worth it.
  2. Don’t chase phantom benefits – if you’re not going to reuse the licenses you free up, then there is no point running this process.
  3. Prioritise your activities depending on the type of benefit you are achieving. Management don’t get anywhere near as excited about cost avoidance (eg reducing non-compliance, building a pool of surplus licenses) as they do about permanently reducing budgets (cancelling unused subscriptions).
  4. If you have a large pool of non-compliant installs for a high risk vendor, run this process sooner rather than later – once an audit has been called, it’s too late.
  5. Preparation is key – develop a procedure that allows you to easily uninstall the software, otherwise performing the process quickly becomes more resource intensive than its worth. Ideally, you should define uninstall / optimisation procedures at the same time as you develop the deployment procedure, during the Software Packaging and Vendor Onboarding processes.
  6. For many SaaS products cancelling subscriptions is not the only optimisation option. Work with the business to make sure that subscriptions are ‘right-sized’ for individual users. If you can you shift a group of users to a cheaper option without impact, then do it!
  7. Automate! Automate your uninstall / optimisation procedures so a simple click of a mouse can trigger them.
  8. Finesse your Leavers process so that machines are re-built from scratch when someone leaves rather than just being handed over to their replacement. This will also make your info sec team happy too! Make sure your Leavers process includes a SaaS software assessment and cancels any subscriptions assigned to the employee!
  9. Leverage your access control processes – can single sign-on changes be used to trigger subscription cancellations? Can your automated uninstall procedure be triggered if someone is removed from an AD group? SAM teams don’t talk to the access control people anywhere near as much as we should!
  10. Finding that you have a glut of software in your licence pool that hasn’t been deployed in over 12 months?  If your organisation is EU based, give serious thought to engaging companies in the second-hand software market.  This turns cost avoidance into cost savings once more.

This process is so tantalising… it seems like such a great idea, yet when you actually start running it poor uninstall procedures and failure to optimise access control processes means the benefits you hoped for often feel just out of reach.

To be honest, every time I’ve tried to run this process the benefits have not been worth the effort. For example, when I had hundreds of thousands of ££s of MS Visio non-compliance, it turned out the product had been deployed manually on every machine over a period of 10 years, so it proved impossible to devise an automated uninstall procedure, so we never uninstalled anything! Another time we needed to optimise MS Project licensing over Citrix, but the challenges of engaging with the business to determine which machines and users really needed access were so great that we didn’t really make an impact.

And guess what – MS never audited so both efforts were in vain. In both cases, MS and the organisations involved were fully aware we needed to modify the estate and therefore MS prioritised negotiating a deal for cloud subscriptions over auditing us. On top of that, many of the problems were resolved by the subsequent Windows 10 upgrade anyway.

Such is the life of a software asset manager.

Related Processes and Courses

Software Recycling and Licence Optimisation Process

In the brave new world of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS, this process just got more complicated! We’ll help you drill down to determine whether you have the right level of subscription to meet requirements, or whether you could downgrade to a cheaper option.

£79.96 + VAT