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Software Licensing Futures Project

What is Software Licensing Futures and Software Asset Management?

Through Financial Futures, we are creating a Software Asset Management Program, with appropriate personnel, processes, and tools, to manage software licenses and entitlements centrally. This will increase efficiency and reduce audit/compliance risk by tracking licenses with an enterprise software asset management tool, using it to help reduce over-licensing, share/pool licenses, and harvest/reclaim unused software. Software Licensing Futures is the name given to the OIT charter project to implement the new SAM program and tool(s).

Software Asset Management (SAM), as part of the discipline of IT Asset Management, is a framework and set of processes for strategically tracking and managing the financial, licensing, contractual, compliance, and risk aspects of IT software assets through their life cycle. Although SAM-specific tools are part of this framework, a full SAM Program is required to realize the full benefits of these activities.

How does this project affect me? 

If you purchase software on behalf of a campus unit or department:

  • Your purchasing process may be changed
  • You will be provided more administrative support to match business needs to software, find campus partners for cost-sharing, developing cost-sharing models and agreements, and to manage the procurement process

If you are a leader, decision maker, or budget owner for a campus unit or department:

  • Your unit's administrative overhead may be reduced
  • Your costs on software spending may be reduced (by leveraging campus-scaled software purchasing agreements, and reducing duplicate spending)
  • You will be able to plan more effectively by accessing the comprehensive software catalog, to determine what campus software is available
  • Your unit's liability and risk for mismanaged software licenses will be reduced, due to central compliance tracking and management

If you are an IT Professional who manages computers for your unit or department:

  • You will work with OIT closely to provide data and receive reports on software on your managed computers
  • You will have the ability to broadly and deeply examine software use for your unit, assisting in operational management
  • You will receive enhanced support from OIT to distribute software
  • Standardized software offerings will make deployment and support easier

If you are an individual who purchases software for your own use, or uses campus-licensed software:

  • Your costs on software spending may be reduced (by leveraging campus-scaled software purchasing agreements, and reducing duplicate spending)
  • You will have customized reports on your software license entitlements and usage
  • You may not need to keep track your own software license entitlements (such as products you purchased and unique product keys); these will be recorded by OIT and provided to you upon request
  • You will have access to a comprehensive software catalog, so you can easily determine what campus software is available to you.
Current Status and Project History

The overall project has been approved and provided seed funding via Financial Futures. The project has been added to the OIT Project Portfolio with a "high" priority.

Activity Planned Start/End Dates Status Description
Hire SAM Personnel December 2019 - April 2020 Completed Recruit, hire, and onboard two positions (Software Asset Manager, Software Licensing Analyst)
Initiate OIT charter project January - February 2020 Completed Create OIT project charter, approve project, identify project manager, and schedule kickoff meeting
Initial Project Discovery February 2020 - January 2021* Completed ID stakeholders, form project teams, current state analysis, list current software, collect software contracts, baseline SAM activities
Develop Program Strategy June - September 2020 Completed Establish program governance structures, roles, & responsibilities; draft, approve, and publish program policies (deferred)
Develop Procedures and References May 2020 - November 2021* In progress Purchasing procedures, software standards procedures, software standards list, contracts repository, life cycle procedures, compliance and audit procedures, SAM metrics & KPIs
Acquire SAM Tool(s) May 2020 - May 2021* Completed Develop tool requirements, compare against existing tools, demos, develop RFP, bid, procure, and acquire. (RFQ complete, contracting in progress.)
SAM Tool(s) Test Implementation & Integration June - November 2021* In Progress Implement infrastructure prereqs, prepare on-prem management environment, initial setup of test env, configure test instances, create management client, test with clients, prepare integrations, ServiceNow development & testing, training
SAM Tool(s) Production Implementation & Integration September 2021* - February 2022* In Progress Implement the above, per testing; announce to campus environment
Software Catalog May - March 2022 In progress Draft software catalog, draft SW acquisition process, publish and communicate SW catalog, integrate SAM with service desk. (Dependency on SAM Tool(s).)
Inventory Software February - April 2022* Not started Initial inventory (within new tools), identify and normalize. (Dependency on SAM Tool(s).)
Application Rationalization March - July 2022* Not started Analyze application types, propose version alignment, obtain approvals, execute version alignment, propose allowed apps, communicate changes, remove redundant software availability
Contract Management March - July 2022* Not started Implement large-scale contract management using data about actual use. Determine "best fit" approach for each software contract and title, consolidating software applications under product suites and same vendors for optimal spend. While this activity should be ongoing from early on, success in this area is reliant upon accurate usage data collected for at least one year.

*Dates adjusted from original planned dates. Some delays in initial activities due to staff capacity and re-alignment to other critical activities during COVID-19. Additional delays in later activities due to dependencies on prior activities.

Software Asset Management Business Case 

Current Environment

Currently there is no cohesive, centralized software asset management for the campus. In the Gartner IT Asset Management Maturity Model (see attachment A below), CU Boulder is currently operating at the lowest level: “Chaotic – Uncontrolled Environment” for most aspects of software asset management.

While some centralized software purchasing activities are performed within OIT Site Licensing, the software titles managed by Site Licensing only account for roughly 8% of the campus’ total software spend. This has resulted in duplicate titles purchased, redundant types of software purchased, a non-optimal distribution of software licenses, and no attention to compliance, which is a severe audit risk. Software purchasing is often ad hoc and existing contracts, which individuals can leverage, are not used effectively.

The Cost and Impact of Maintaining Status Quo

Without data about actual usage and total costs, senior decision makers do not have the information necessary to make sound strategic investment decisions related to software. Tactically, people who need to use software to implement a new initiative, program, or process do not have the cohesive view of the total software landscape. As a result, we have ended up with duplicate software purchases, redundant software titles to manage the same sorts of tasks, and overpayment of software license purchases. Without a central program to gather and help make decisions around software, this trend will continue.

Moreover, we need additional focus on software audits, as this poses a substantial risk factor. The likelihood of a software audit occurring in the next year is 68%, and 52% of organizations say their software has been audited multiple times (Ivanti IT Asset Management Calculator). The average audit true-up cost for organizations of our size is $263k. We currently have software titles at this campus from 12 of the 12 major vendors named “most likely to audit”(The State of the (Software) Estate: Waste Is Running Rampant in Enterprises).

The Opportunity

Gartner Research, and other industry-based research, shows that organizations that implement a software asset management program can save as much as 30% of their total software spend (currently $17M at CU Boulder).

Direct savings are possible in contract management (using data about actual usage and coverage to lower the number of licenses renewed and reduce payments to align with actual use), license recapture (not purchasing applications for which an unused license exists), and application rationalization (reducing the number of applications in the software portfolio).

The most impactful benefit of SAM is that it contributes data to IT and other business initiatives, and financial management programs, to support informed business decisions about sourcing and funding. At its simplest, more data means more leverage in negotiations with vendors. This goes beyond a simple cost savings measure and facilitates transformative practices in the university’s enterprise.

Other indirect savings include staff efficiency performing SAM activities (including provisioning, managing, and supporting applications), and audit readiness (time spent preparing for and responding to a software audit).

Next Steps

The first and most important step is implement appropriate software policies, because this will represent a substantive change to the way individual campus units conduct business, and a cultural shift. Thus, change management guidance is required. The program will ultimately save the campus money, staff time, and reduce risk, but some units and individuals may have a “local” view that prevents them from seeing this organizational benefit. In the long term, they will see more advantages to their local operations by participating in the program.

The next most critical needs for the program to succeed are to increase staffing levels and form a dedicated SAM team in OIT, and to potentially purchase a dedicated SAM tool to supplement the processes we create and to enhance data collection. These investments are required to see the desired outcomes.