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How to Design a Software Licensing Strategy That Caters to Users and Developers

October 16, 2013
By Susan J. Campbell, Software Licensing Contributing Editor

In the corporate environment, it’s easy to align initiatives and guidelines according to the industry or the needs of the business. When it comes to software applications within the user environment, guidelines often focus on industry standards and corporate goals. The design of business software licensing management policies, however, is likely to be more successful if they align with user behavior first.

Software licensing is one of those “behind the scenes” kind of things that users rarely think about, much less understand. IT has the responsibility of communicating and enforcing such policies, but they don’t often taken user trends into consideration in the process. This can create an environment where acceptable use is the opposite of actual use.

It would be easier to align software licensing with user behavior, but that generally isn’t an option. Software developers have the right to dictate how their software can be used according to the fees that have been collected. Therefore, it’s up to IT to ensure users understand the rules and the importance of adhering to the rules as a basic set of standards. They have to be able to oversee the proper use and take corrective action if needed.

A recent post in the Silicon Angle offered some insight as to how IT can go about designing an internal policy that caters to the user and the guidelines of software licenses. The first tip is to communicate clearly. Typical users don’t understand much of the IT jargon and a policy explained in such a manner is likely to be ignored. If users are to curb risky behavior, they need to know what it is and isn’t proper use.  

Customizing a policy according to the organization is always a possibility. While there are software developer guidelines that have to take precedence, IT generally has room to adjust the policy according to the environment. The level of diligence and control applied in the usage will greatly depend on the type of organization and level of technical know-how of the user base.

The important thing is that all employees understand why a software usage policy is necessary, that software purchasing guidelines are established and articulated, guidelines surrounding software installation have been provided, and that the consequences for out-of-adherence behaviors are clearly communicated.

The idea behind a solid software licensing strategy is not to handcuff users within the organization, but rather to empower them to use the software to its fullest. When handled correctly, the experience is enhanced, not limited.

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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