What is licence reconciliation?
To define the licence position of any particular software product you need to reconcile:

Licence requirement = the definition of what licences are required for the quantity and type of software that is installed or made available.

Licence entitlement = the definition of the right (quantity and type) that your organisation's licences grant for software to be installed or made available.

What will you find in this section?
Explanation of how to establish both sides of the equation (licence requirement and licence entitlement) as quickly as possible for as many software products as we know.

The idea is to provide you with a reference site that provides you with the relevant information that you can consult at any time when reconciling software.

Please help us build this section so that it is as useful for you as possible.  Let us know which additional products you would like information about and we will research them and provide an answer - click on the alien above to contact the source...

Setting the scene

Over the years there has been a temptation with licence reconciliation to fall into one or both of the following two traps:
  1. Trying to establish a licence position for too many software products too soon.
  2. Attempting to maintain a licence position in an overall state of chaos where proper controls and processes are not in place.

The larger the organisation the more likely either or both of the above are to be the case.  So for any organisation over 500 machines we would strongly urge you to prioritise your approach and be very realistic about what you can achieve - Product prioritisation

Also, make sure that the advice you are following is suitable for your organisation.  We disagree with much of what has been said in the SAM industry that tends to push for too much too soon.

What does the industry advise?
In theory you should know your organisation's licence position for every software product all of the time.

Events that should be informed by a licence reconciliation process include:
  • An annual compliance position check
  • Contract renewal
  • Before any major purchase or upgrade

In reality this is a huge task and requires very mature processes at every stage of the software lifecycle to be in place - see Control SAM costs

It should be noted that unless mature controls and processes are in place (Fundamentals and Essentials) the cost of maintaining a licence position for an entire software estate will be prohibitively expensive.

SAMsource advice

In reality you should be very clear about what you need to achieve now and where you would like to be in the future.

There is a big difference between defining a licence position at a moment in time and maintaining it on an ongoing basis.

If a publisher is knocking on your door demanding a definition of a licence position then that is your focus and forget everything else until it is achieved.

If you need to define a licence position for multiple publishers' products then separate the work into two phases:
  1. Define a licence position for your priority (Top ten) products.
  2. Complete the rest in order of risk.

Be mindful of the fact that unless controls and processes are in place as described above, then maintaining a licence position for your software is a waste of time, money and effort.

So if you need to know a licence position right now then go ahead and work on it, but treat it as a short term objective, a snapshot of your software estate.

Much better to focus on your controls and processes as soon as possible.  The more you do here the easier life will become.

Now for a quick note on the practicalities of audit tools...

Putting inventory tools into perspective

When you need to define what licences are required for a piece of software, it will predominantly be based on the number of installations or the number of users or the number of devices that connect to that software or system - Licence models

But inventory tools almost always only supply you with information about software that is installed thereby rendering them useless for large proportions of software licensing based on user and device connections.

So the point is, do not expect an inventory tool to solve all your problems, often they just create more issues - The truth about audit tools

Having said that an inventory tool can be very useful and for larger organisations (250+) they should be considered an important part of any software asset management programme.

The next problem is that a tool will always show confusing results unless:
  • The software on your machines has NEVER been upgraded.
  • Every machine has been captured by the audit tool.
  • All software has been rationalised and standardised.

For more information on how to deal with tools see our SAM Tools section.

Let us begin with a more detailed look at The reconciliation process that you should be following...