Licensing software should be simple. The IT department can keep track of IT assets such as desktop PCs, laptops and servers, so it should know what software is running. Unfortunately, the dynamics of business means software audits quickly go out of date.
Companies are constantly changing through mergers, acquisitions and divestiture. This makes keeping track of IT assets a full-time job. People join and leave companies, servers are decommissioned, PCs replaced, and new applications installed daily.
Unless IT directors are proactive, IT procurement can quickly escalate out of control. Hire company Speedy Hire discovered this when it emerged that each of its businesses was buying its own Microsoft software and failing to take advantage of the company's group-wide Microsoft Select agreement, which offered volume discounts.
Taking control of IT procurement is not easy. Even if IT buying is centralised, businesses often find that individual departments continue to buy non-authorised software and hardware. At worst, this highlights a disregard for IT by the rest of the business, at best a misunderstanding.
End-users' home computers are often more sophisticated than the office desktop. People go to PC World to buy off-the-shelf software, install it, and even perform routine maintenance on their home PCs. They assume their work machine is the same and expect to be able to connect their smartphones and gadgets to the corporate network.
It is imperative that IT directors show their businesses the value of centralised IT procurement to stem rogue purchases. Equally, the IT department needs to react faster to user demands to head off the temptation for users to look elsewhere.