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5 Tips to Crack Software Waste Issues

5 Tips to Crack Software Waste Issues

5 Tips to Crack Software Waste Issues

As part of Solutions Review’s Expert Insights Series—a collection of contributed articles written by industry experts in enterprise software categories—Scott Pope, a Business Value Architect at Nexthink, outlines how companies can start addressing software waste issues in their business.

In the workplace, software applications help increase team productivity, streamline tasks, and improve the employee experience. However, recent research uncovered a trend that nearly 50 percent of software licenses go unused by employees, wasting millions every month. 

Root Causes of Software Waste 

Research suggests that 95 percent of IT leaders are left in the dark regarding whether or not their employees use the software applications the company is paying for. On average, employees have between 11 and 50 software applications per day at their disposal, with IT leaders unclear on how many are actively in use, for how long, how frequently, or how many seats (licenses) are available/used for each application. This lack of visibility into an organization’s software investments not only causes employee confusion and can derail productivity but can also be costly in terms of time and resources.  

According to the report, popular tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are employees’ most actively used apps, demonstrating that work management platforms and video conferencing tools remain vital for day-to-day business management. Amongst the tools least used were Tableau, Trello, BlueJeans, and Spotfire, which are often seen as redundant or serve a niche purpose to be offered for the entire organization. Yet, businesses continue to spend money on these tools month after month. 

Suppose organizations are looking to reduce IT spending. In that case, IT leaders must take a closer look at the tools being offered to employees to understand their employees’ digital usage and decipher what is vital, what is discretionary, what allows for the most return on investment, and what can be replaced with more efficient and cost-effective solutions. 

How Can Organizations Solve Their Software Waste Issues?

Here are five steps IT leaders must take to reduce unnecessary spending and eliminate waste. 

1) Conduct Audits

Software vendors encourage organizations to purchase as many licenses as possible. IT leaders enter software negotiations at a distinct disadvantage if they lack the correct data. Without a clear picture of what their employees are using and what they need to get their job done, IT leaders often find themselves overspending blindly. 

By conducting comprehensive audits, IT leaders will be able to find answers to critical questions around software usage, including:  

  • What licenses are installed but not being used?  
  • What licenses are being used very little?  
  • What licenses are being used regularly? 

One of the most critical considerations in understanding license purchases or renewals is that waste does not directly correlate with duplicate tools. In certain instances, backup options are helpful (and necessary) but must be managed carefully.  However, having licenses for every employee as a backup is a waste. Additionally, enterprises should avoid unnecessary product swaps, especially when additional testing, integration, deployment, employee training, and education are required. 

By understanding usage patterns, IT leaders are better prepared when it comes time for contract negotiation discussions. 

2) Create Digital Personas

Smart persona building entails creating profiles using binary (i.e., if an employee uses the tool or not) and variable (i.e., if an employee does use the tool, how much?) IT traits for specific job functions and departments to understand which employee types need specific software the most.  

In leveraging persona profiles, leaders can better qualify and organize user types while building the right software package for each team. 

3) Regularly Monitor Employee Software Usage

Employees’ software usage can change over time. A one-time software usage audit will yield valuable data but should not be relied on solely to maintain an accurate picture of software cost bloat. With dashboards that non-invasively monitor software usage, IT teams can visualize under-utilized software and determine the following steps to reduce software costs. 

4) Gather Employee Feedback

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building a software mix. 

For instance, a marketing team may need Trello to stay on track during a campaign, while the developer team may never need it. Relying on numbers alone would indicate to an IT team that because Trello isn’t widely used throughout the company, its licenses can be removed, which would cause inadvertent disruptions to the marketing team’s productivity. 

Therefore, IT leaders must foster an environment of continuous feedback and open communication with employees directly to scale purchasing based on the area of greatest need while still driving cost savings. 

5) Repeat!

The previous four steps make up an unerring process for software license optimization, but they must be performed regularly, updated, and iterated based on changing employee habits and processes. Employee personas should be re-examined and updated over time. Regular software usage audits should be monitored as IT leaders negotiate renewal with software vendors. 

Through a more hands-on approach and a better understanding of where costs can be optimized, leaders can reduce costs and confusion as they create a more streamlined and synergistic experience. 

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