Managing Your Software Usage and Licensing Compliance Needs
Dear Agon-e Aunt, I have little idea about what software licenses the company owns, when they expire and what I can use them for. Not everyone here uses the same applications so it's very hard to keep track of it all.
I've heard that software companies are threatening court action to those who don't pay for software licences, but I can't help thinking that they're the only people who can help me find out what I own and what I don't. I'm not breaking the law on purpose - even if I am at all - so what should I do?
S Jones, Caerphilly
On this week's panel are TMB accredited ICT and business advisors Kevin Stephens (Powys), Sue Groves-Phillips (Ceredigion) and Steward Giles (Newport).
Kevin Stephens: This is an interesting and very creditable question. The situation has changed recently in that you'll find that it's now a criminal offence rather than a civil matter so as you say it's important to get it right. I think the first thing you need to do is produce a comprehensive list of what software your staff are actually using - and I mean using rather than just having on their computer.
Sue Groves-Phillips: There is lots of auditing software for PC's available over the internet and many of them offer free-trial versions for you to evaluate which one suits your organisation best. To find examples of this software, just go to your favourite search engine and type in 'auditing software licenses'. You should find this returns lots of sites offering software to help you establish what is held and used on each PC within your organisation.
Steward Giles: There is a programme called Fast - Federation Against Software Theft - that has a programme that helps you to track which licenses you own within your business. There are a number of software tools that can be deployed in the business to monitor applications which run across the company. These can be configured to look for standard build of applications against unauthorised software, therefore identifying what each person in the business has loaded on their machines.
KS: You should also take a critical look at what they are using the software for, to see if it justifies having it in the first instance. …