Friday, February 7, 2014

#Manufacturers: Get Your S@$%&*@# Together

I was at an IT conference recently and one of the topics discussed was Software Asset Management. Sitting there, I was thinking that most companies, especially smaller ones, probably have no idea where all of their software install discs are, let alone have a system in place to manage them. Hence the title of the blog “Get Your SOFTWARE Together.” I know it was a bit cheesy to get you reading by using some cheap trick but here we go.

It’s important to have the software install discs and product keys available in the “unlikely”’ event of a computer failure. Or if you want to install the software on a new machine. Or if the BSA (Business Software
Alliance, aka the “software police”) files a lawsuit because they suspect you are violating the anti-piracy restrictions of their member companies. They’ve been known to refer really bad abusers to law enforcement for criminal actions.

I’d suggest that you do the following five things ASAP;

  1. Inventory the software running on each of your computers.  The list should include the operating system (Windows/OSX) and all other software including both free (like Adobe Reader—Adobe Photoshop is not free) and the not free (like AutoCad, MasterCam and MS Office). For the paid software, locate the install discs, download links or purchase history for each machine and license you are using. In Windows and/or MS Office, you should have a unique product key for each install/computer you own. Multiple installs of the same product key are strictly a no-no. Remember that EULA (End User License Agreement) you just clicked yes and “agreed” to while installing? Somewhere in the fine print it says you have to buy a license/product for each install or seat. The same goes for your CAD/CAM, CRM, Quickbooks, and ERP/shop control software as well as any others you’re paying for. All of these companies belong to the BSA and you can be sued if you’ve got more users than licenses if the BSA gets wind of your actions.
  2. Find out if you are paying for too many seats or licenses for your software. Obviously, you’ll need to stop paying so you can save money. 
  3. Delve into the computers and see what else is loaded there that shouldn’t be such as game software, links to outside sites, pictures or other types of distractions that have no place in your computer systems. Run anti-virus software and other software that “frees” up space that is being used by the unnecessary software. 
  4. Here’s a caveat--If you find any files or other materials that you suspect is of an illegal nature, immediately stop what you are doing and contact the authorities. You may want to handle this situation by yourself or internally but by doing so, you may inhibit what may turn into a criminal action and undermine the process.
  5. One of my most basic yet VERY important tips is for you to religiously backup your systems and keep a copy off site in case of a real disaster. 

The hope is that by centralizing all of your software and related information, you will save yourself a lot of aggravation when the “unlikely” or unintended happens. I put “unlikely’” in quotations because nobody thinks these things will happen to them, but they can and do! You’ll also be able to get your systems running again in the shortest period of time with the least amount of loss of service.

Should you have any questions with regards to this very important yet overlooked topic of “software management” or any other issue I talked about above, feel free to give me a call (602) 510-5998. I’m sure I’ll be able to work out any situation you may have.

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