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Published on:

20 June 2023

Author:

Rachael Adams

Software: Are You Getting What You Pay For?

For anyone responsible for business IT, the ‘do more with less’ mantra feels like a permanent state. If you’re running out of ways to do more, without a rising budget to match, there’s one area that might just be the answer. Aside from people costs, software is likely to be among your biggest IT expenses, yet a UK study showed that in a typical organisation, staff don’t use 40% of new software features, potentially wasting millions. How can businesses turn this around?

Identify Your App Champion

Most people in the organisation are busy doing their jobs. They have little time to notice when new features are rolled out, and the way things are working is just fine. Usually, it isn’t really anybody’s job to track changes. Take, for example, a business-critical app like Microsoft 365. Everybody uses it, but if you asked who is the app champion in your business, would you be rewarded with a blank look? It is worth identifying the most skilled user and tasking them with keeping updated, attending in-person or online announcements and webinars, and chatting with your Microsoft licensing partner regularly. They can then share the most useful new information and help less able users to get to grips with new features that best apply to their roles.

Get Help From Your IT Partner

Most of your apps come from major global corporations but if you acquire licences from a locally based technology partner, it is worth getting to know your account manager. The better providers will be able to give you a round-up of recently added features and know your business well enough to pinpoint which will be most useful. This can help you to filter the many new feature announcements – believe us, it is a full-time job to keep up with every update.

Add It To Your Strategy

The way each organisation uses technology hugely influences outcomes, so it makes sense to make better adoption a part of your overall strategy. Many of our customers pick a focus, for example, getting more benefit from the automation capabilities of Microsoft 365. The licence they already pay for includes some remarkable capability, and as they have gained in confidence, they have been able to save considerable staff time and improve user experience.

Evaluate Licensing Options and Software Choices

It may be, of course, that you really are using all the features you need from a software investment. As new features are added, and some that were previously extra are included in basic packages, it is worth reviewing exactly what you use. There may even be a free option elsewhere – for example, there used to be a cost associated with PDF signing functionality but now it can be done in many browsers.

Likewise, Microsoft 365 gets more added so fast that it can be hard to keep up. You may find there is a feature you are still paying for in another product that is better and included with your Microsoft licence. Conversely, you may find that an expert review of your Microsoft 365 usage will identify a better licence option that saves you money. We perform a regular TechAlign process for our managed service customers, and part of that process involves checking whether the customer is not overpaying on software. It is not uncommon to find some sizeable saving opportunities.

Onboarding and Offboarding

When a new staff member is introduced, you probably have good processes in place to make sure they understand how to book annual leave, handle fire safety, and requisition a new laptop. What is often missed, though, is comprehensive application training. At TechPath, we learned that putting each new person through good training on our most important software tools, so they know the way that we use the product, reduces confusion, and makes sure we work consistently.

Just as onboarding can help to make sure that software is used more effectively, offboarding when a staff member leaves, or changes roles, can ensure that it is not used inappropriately, and that you are not paying for licences that are no longer used. Given how easy it is to sign up for cloud software, IT may not always have visibility of everything that is racking up subscription costs. This is another great reason for that annual TechAlign review, as it hunts down all those hidden licences.

Policies

Sometimes, it is about setting rules around how software is used. Given the speed of progress with AI, it is important to clearly document the way that your own organisation uses software. No matter how handy it might seem, you don’t necessarily want anyone uploading a spreadsheet to Chat GPT to analyse its contents if it contains sensitive data. That isn’t to say a blanket ban is necessarily right either, as it is a very handy tool when used appropriately. Clear policies help you to get the benefits while sidestepping the hazards.

Want more tips on getting the most from your software investment? Follow our blog series, or chat to the friendly TechPath team.