Life endures even in the most difficult situations—and it adapts and evolves to meet new challenges. Now, as we watch, and fight back against the spread of COVID-19 worldwide, we are arriving at the very edge of an evolution, a new future, a new workspace model that tackles today’s limitations. With COVID-19 leading to lockdowns, organizations are facing their unique challenges as they try to cope with both the safety of their people and the continuity of business.
Regular operations of companies that were not digital-ready have come to a near standstill. Employees are now working from home, which is causing multiple challenges in IT infrastructure. Those without a decent IT infrastructure are left in a lurch.
This article will explore some of these changes related to IT and software assets, along with their potential consequences.
- Remote working is the new norm: The use of VPN software, remote desktop tools and audio/video conferencing tools has risen substantially. Needless to mention that many of these tools are not free and require commercial licenses for use. Even those that give the impression to be free have provisions related to non-commercial usage. As an example, popular remote desktop application Teamviewer is not free for commercial use. Although you can download the software freely without any restrictions, organizations need to procure the appropriate edition when used in a commercial environment. Software asset management teams must make sure that the tools sanctioned for remote working adhere to the license requirements of the respective vendor. Additionally, the software asset management team must ensure that any new software or hardware purchased is tested for vulnerabilities and the latest editions of anti-viruses installed.
- Process and Procedures: It is quite natural for small scale and sometimes even large organizations to bypass standard protocols laid out for employees to keep the business running. Think again! Giving remote access, administrative access, higher privileges etc., without initial assessment of compliance with existing policies can introduce serious risk. Not only with regards to licenses and pirated software, but also potential fraud and money laundering exposure. While we comprehend the gravity of the situation, the teams should rely more on technology and should consider other compensating measures to help the organizations rather than bypassing procedures. For example, employees working from home may have unrestricted internet access to download pirated software. Imagine if such employees are also provided with “Administrative access” to install the software due to remote working conditions. Instead of providing administrative access to employees to install the software themselves, a dedicated team should cater to such request and remotely install the software on end-users’ machines.
- Cost avoidance: With business slowdowns across the world, it’s quite natural for organizations to reduce spending on their cost centers. A skilled IT team with expertise can easily align themselves to the goal of the organizations. Scrutinizing superfluous spend on software is one of the key factors to reduce costs. Identify services that you are still paying for but no longer using. Identify default deployment of programs and features that may not be required by all employees and add these licenses back to your product license pool. Another potential solution to reduce the cost of software is by transitioning to the cloud using a subscription model. A subscription model helps spread costs across many quarters/years instead of a big upfront investment.
- Future roadmaps: While everyone is busy anticipating how best to mitigate the challenges of COVID-19, it is also imperative to design and develop a future roadmap. This means the IT teams should evaluate their requirements and perform careful spend in terms of software and hardware procurement, cloud usage, outsourcing certain functions/departments etc. It is quite natural for organizations to bypass disaster recovery rules and license obligations during crises, in the interest of ensuring business continuity. However, organizations must assess if the needs driven by the current crisis would also be required in the future and plan out a roadmap accordingly with the respective vendors to ensure compliance.
Many large multi-national organizations still do not have dedicated teams to look after their software and IT asset management. This is a significant disadvantage when it comes to monitoring software license compliance and cost optimization. While such a department would always be treated as a cost center, organizations must take the necessary steps to navigate through troubled waters. This is where a specialized team can propel the growth of an organization, through clear optimization and efficient usage of assets and services.
Companies are now evaluating the impact Covid – 19 has to their IT Roadmaps, augmenting their capabilities and modifying their future requirements. Our experts recently helped one of our clients to right-size their IT infrastructure and then negotiate an 80% reduction in their software renewal fees.
In times of crisis, it’s essential that companies who don’t have the expertise in house, work with experienced advisors to build future roadmaps and plans that address license requirements, asset requirements, contractual obligations etc., and prepare contingencies that can reduce overall fallout.
The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of FTI Consulting, its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals.