The software purchasing minefield.

Position:Management Products

Sharon Cummins, Monactive.

Purchasing software can be a bugbear for some procurement professionals--it's complex, it's expensive and it's usually a mammoth task. In more and more cases, purchasing departments are taking on the responsibility of procuring the software and licenses for the entire organisation. This means they have to develop some of the skills of the average IT manager: getting to grips with the complexities of licensing issues and being able to spot a software cost black hole at ten paces.

* DIY Purchasing

Unbelievably, some organisations still rely on individual employees to buy their own software and licenses, which can lead to some serious mistakes. According to a Meta Group study, software is the major item on any IT budget. If this is the case, it seems madness not to have a central department to keep track of software assets. Procurement people are the ones to take control of software purchasing, allowing them to keep an eye on the cost structure, where the software is deployed and whether it is licensed or not. If a tight reign on software isn't maintained, it's all too easy for a company to find themselves facing accusations of illegal software use.

* Illegal Software

Over 26 per cent of business software in the UK is used illegally, costing the industry 450 million [pounds sterling] last year alone. This figure is not surprising when you look at the complexities of software licenses and how easy it is to get it wrong. Each software license or End User License Agreement (EULA) varies from package to package and from vendor to vendor, which means that there is no set pattern to follow. The basic rule is that there is always a current software license qr EULA for every PC with software installed, but with Microsoft alone having over five different types of license, software purchasing can be a potential minefield.

* Value for Money

Because the purchasing...

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