Earlier, I introduced the eight KPIs that are critical to every IT help desk. These KPIs help meet basic IT help desk objectives such as business continuity, organizational productivity, and delivery of services on time and within budget. The previous blog post discussed about the cost per ticket KPI. This post discusses the eighth and final KPI–software asset utilization rate

Definition: Percentage of software products and licenses in actual use by the business.

Goal: Maximize the return on investment (ROI) on software investments. 

With software license purchases taking up a major part of IT  spending, it is important to track software utilization. Unfortunately, this is one of the least discussed metrics. For easy management, software can be categorized as follows:

Category 1 – Software that needs the most attention (with the highest business implications, license cost, or compliance risks).

Category 2 – Software that needs the least attention (free software such as Adobe Reader).

Category 3 – Prohibited software and malware.

The following metrics can be used to track software utilization:

Ratio of total used to total owned software

This metric helps identify any software purchase expenditure that does not provide any value to the organization. Ideally, this ratio should be close to one, meaning there is maximum utilization of all purchased software, thereby ensuring a maximum ROI on software license purchases. A high number of category-one software in the unused list means that a major portion of software asset spending is on idle software.

Ratio of unallocated licenses to total license count

This metric helps analyze the license utilization of particular software, helping IT teams plan ahead for license purchases. The ratio should be as small as possible for maximum ROI. A higher ratio could mean that some of the software applications are over licensed, which could be an idle investment with no ROI.

License compliance rate

Another important software asset management metric that could incur cost to the organization is the license compliance rate. Maintaining maximum compliance can save your organization from penalties and fines. The following are a few tips for achieving maximum compliance:

  • Track all software installations and license purchases.

  • Allocate licenses to individual software installations to find over- and under-compliant software.

  • Purchase the right license types for software. For example, it is better to purchase a perpetual license for core software to avoid compliance issues due to license expiration.

  • Conduct formal internal assessments for compliance and audit readiness.

Case study: Increasing software asset utilization saves a million dollars

A leading global pharmaceutical company saved about one million dollars in software license spending. The pharmaceutical company, with its services spread across over 50 countries, was using a diverse range of Microsoft products. At one particular office, there were thousands of software applications licensed under a Microsoft volume licensing agreement, but there was no visibility or control of these software assets, initially. The purchase had been made without understanding the business requirements. In fact, the company had  limited information on the software assets and the number and type of assets the organization actually needed.

This put the organization at the risk of over-licensing, under-licensing, and compliance penalties. The IT help desk started with a simple analysis by comparing the installed Microsoft software with the Microsoft licenses they held. The insight gained and the IT team’s efforts to understand the business requirements led to a redesigned Microsoft license purchase that involved stepping down from the Microsoft Office Professional edition to the cheaper standard edition, which met the business requirement. Furthermore, several other volume licenses were replaced, saving the company about one million dollars in their software license purchases.

Achieve maximum compliance with a three-step pre-audit

You can achieve 100% license compliance rate with this simple three-step pre-audit.

These eight KPIs, with respective metrics, will help you establish a measurement engine to constantly measure and continuously improve your help desk performance. The first step in establishing this measurement engine is to understand the business that the IT help desk is supporting and align the IT help desk objectives to the business objectives.

The next step is to identify the KPIs and metrics that are critical to these help desk objectives and constantly measure them. The eight KPIs discussed here are critical to the three basic IT help desk objectives of ensuring business continuity, making the organization productive, and delivering services within budgets and on time, which underlines the fact that these eight KPIs are the ones that your IT help desk should care about most.