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How to Audit Your Software Inventory and Reduce Costs

Software inventory audit is a process of identifying, tracking, and managing the software assets and licenses that are used by an organization. Software inventory audit helps the organization to optimize its software usage, compliance, and spending. Software inventory audit can also help the organization to improve its security, performance, and productivity.

Why is software inventory audit important?

Software inventory audit is important for several reasons, such as:

  • Cost reduction: Software inventory audit can help the organization to reduce its software costs by eliminating unused, outdated, or redundant software, consolidating software licenses, and negotiating better deals with software vendors. According to a report by Gartner, organizations can save up to 30% of their software costs by implementing software asset management (SAM) practices, which include software inventory audit.
  • Compliance assurance: Software inventory audit can help the organization to ensure its compliance with software licensing agreements, regulations, and standards. Software inventory audit can help the organization to avoid fines, penalties, or legal actions that may result from software license violations, such as under-licensing, over-licensing, or unauthorized use. According to a report by BSA, the global software industry lost $46.3 billion due to unlicensed software use in 2018.
  • Security enhancement: Software inventory audit can help the organization to enhance its security by identifying and removing software that may pose a risk to the organization’s data, systems, or network. Software inventory audit can help the organization to detect and prevent malware, spyware, ransomware, or other malicious software that may infiltrate the organization’s software environment. According to a report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million.
  • Performance improvement: Software inventory audit can help the organization to improve its performance by optimizing its software resources, capabilities, and quality. Software inventory audit can help the organization to update, upgrade, or replace software that may be outdated, incompatible, or inefficient. Software inventory audit can also help the organization to identify and resolve software issues, errors, or bugs that may affect the organization’s operations, processes, or outcomes.

How to conduct a software inventory audit?

Conducting a software inventory audit involves the following steps:

  • Define the scope and objectives: The first step is to define the scope and objectives of the software inventory audit, such as the types, categories, and locations of the software assets and licenses that need to be audited, the criteria and standards that need to be followed, and the expected outcomes and benefits that need to be achieved.
  • Gather the data and information: The second step is to gather the data and information about the software assets and licenses that are in use by the organization, such as the names, versions, quantities, costs, and statuses of the software, the terms and conditions of the software licenses, and the usage and performance metrics of the software.
  • Analyze and evaluate the data and information: The third step is to analyze and evaluate the data and information that are collected, such as the compliance, security, and efficiency levels of the software, the gaps and discrepancies between the software inventory and the software licenses, and the opportunities and challenges for software optimization and improvement.
  • Report and communicate the findings and recommendations: The fourth step is to report and communicate the findings and recommendations of the software inventory audit, such as the current state and value of the software assets and licenses, the risks and issues that need to be addressed, and the actions and strategies that need to be implemented.
  • Implement and monitor the actions and strategies: The fifth step is to implement and monitor the actions and strategies that are suggested by the software inventory audit, such as the removal, consolidation, or renewal of software assets and licenses, the negotiation or renegotiation of software contracts, and the update, upgrade, or replacement of software products and services.

What are the best practices for software inventory audit?

Some of the best practices for software inventory audit are:

  • Use software inventory tools: Software inventory tools are software applications that can help the organization to automate and simplify the software inventory audit process. Software inventory tools can help the organization to scan, discover, and inventory the software assets and licenses that are installed or used across the organization’s devices, servers, and networks. Software inventory tools can also help the organization to compare, verify, and validate the software inventory data with the software license data, and to generate and export software inventory reports and dashboards.
  • Establish software inventory policies and procedures: Software inventory policies and procedures are the rules and guidelines that govern the software inventory audit process. Software inventory policies and procedures can help the organization to define the roles and responsibilities of the software inventory stakeholders, such as the software asset managers, the software users, and the software vendors. Software inventory policies and procedures can also help the organization to establish the frequency, scope, and methods of the software inventory audit, and to document and communicate the software inventory audit results and actions.
  • Integrate software inventory with software asset management: Software asset management (SAM) is a comprehensive and holistic approach to managing the software assets and licenses throughout their lifecycle, from acquisition to disposal. Software inventory audit is a key component of SAM, as it provides the data and information that are needed for SAM decision making and planning. Integrating software inventory with SAM can help the organization to align its software inventory audit objectives and activities with its SAM goals and strategies, and to leverage the benefits and synergies of SAM practices and tools.

Conclusion

Software inventory audit is a vital process for any organization that uses software for its business operations and functions. Software inventory audit can help the organization to reduce its software costs, ensure its software compliance, enhance its software security, and improve its software performance. Software inventory audit can be conducted by following the steps of defining the scope and objectives, gathering the data and information, analyzing and evaluating the data and information, reporting and communicating the findings and recommendations, and implementing and monitoring the actions and strategies. Software inventory audit can be improved by following the best practices of using software inventory tools, establishing software inventory policies and procedures, and integrating software inventory with software asset management.

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