5 suggestions for reviewing your software before the new year dawns
WHATEVER YOU USE, VISIBILITY IS CRITICAL
Whether you’re working with off-the-shelf packages, custom-made solutions, or subscription-based services – or a mixture of the three – it is essential to assess your software assets and ensure they’re still functioning optimally, and are still contributing to the growth and success of the business.
Because if this isn’t the case, you’re not only spending more than you should, but you’re also potentially compromising your competitive positioning against organizations who manage their software estate more effectively.
As clouds continue to gather on the economic horizon, efficiencies in managing software can increasingly correlate to improved business performance, and help organizations weather the storm more effectively.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Whatever you choose to call it – audit, optimization, tweak, or assessment,– keep in mind the goal isn’t to create a multi-week project that diverts attention and valuable resources away from other business priorities. Rather, it should be a simple, repeatable process that helps you answer a number of simple, admittedly high-level questions, such as:
- Are we getting an appropriate return from our investments in software?
- If not, what obstacles are standing in our way?
- Are end-users satisfied and are they able to use their tools productively?
- How are all these issues affecting organizational success?
Knowing the answers can significantly help senior leadership make better information technology investments in the coming year – which can benefit every facet of your IT shop by ensuring resources aren’t wasted on software that isn’t driving value.
These answers can help IT improve the way it sells its services across the organization – and reinforce the value proposition of technology investments. It can also help the organization to reshape investments across the tech spectrum – software, hardware, services, training, and the other less obvious budget line items.
To accomplish this, consider the following:
1 – Look into licensing
Aligning the number of licenses with head count sounds like an easy thing to do, yet too many organizations fail to properly manage their licensing. They often overbuy, likely out of fear of being caught short of usable licenses – thus triggering an audit – or they fail to plan, then stock up on licenses on an ad hoc basis as changing headcounts and varying ongoing business needs dictate.
This tactical, reactive approach to software procurement prevents the organization from taking advantage of contracted, scaled, cost-optimized acquisition. Lack of visibility into existing licensing terms can also trigger unnecessary acquisition, maintenance, and even training costs. In some cases, organizations may end up paying again for services that were already incorporated into a pre-existing contract.
2 – Dig into usage
Just because a software package, app, or platform is deployed – internally or externally – doesn’t necessarily mean it’s being used in a consistent manner. Organizations would do well to review current software titles in the context of business value.
Ask the IT professionals responsible for all platforms to document why these apps are needed, and what value they deliver to the business, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders. If no one can speak to this value proposition, then ask why it continues to justify a budget line item.
3 – Examine fields and features
One of the most significant unplanned costs of software deployment revolves around how well – or not – it fits with current and planned organizational needs. Out-of-the-box solutions often include certain features that end-users will never use. Similarly, other features required by the business may not be included in the baseline solution.
End-users can help here: talk to them and ask them to rate their satisfaction with the tools they use. Are they filling out all fields and screens? Or are there features they have to skip over? Are there other features that they wish they had? This is an ideal time to hear from them about how effectively their software is supporting their ability to perform within their role. This goes for custom solutions too, as your business grows and changes, so do your user’s needs.
4 – Look externally, too
As a continuation of the previous conversation, it also helps to look outside the organization, because software support touches external stakeholders as well whether that’s clients, prospects, vendors, business partners, or even government agencies.
Dig into the analytics of web-based software, for example, to identify areas where usage falls off, or visitors fail to engage with the appropriate resources. Reach out to key stakeholders and ask them what works for them, what doesn’t, and what they’d change if they had the power.
5 – Refine the budget
Software-related expenses aren’t always uniquely identifiable within the broader context of technology investment. They should be, though, because code often represents the most adjustable and adaptable element of overall IT infrastructure.
As you embark on your 2023 IT roadmap, greater visibility into software-related spend can help solidify your budget plans and communicate your needs more effectively to the C-level executives who approve the budget. If your IT fiscal plan doesn’t have specific line items for software, now is the ideal time to change the way you track these critical expenses.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Here at STEP Software, we work closely with our clients to unlock the potential of their software to drive their businesses forward. And as we look at our own investments in the software-based tools we use to support our own business, we’re learning how universal these best practices are.
We’re also learning how a few small changes in managing the software environment can drive major returns in fairly short order. If you’d like to learn more, reach out to us anytime. We look forward to hearing from you.