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Is Unused Software Impacting Your Value?

Over the years as I have worked with many large Fortune 100 companies, I have found that a tremendous amount of software goes unused.  This is a topic that I touch on in my book coming out in August 2017 “The Business Value of Software”.

It is estimated that more than $34 billion in software goes unused each year in the U.S. and U.K., according to 1E’s “Software Usage and Waster Report – 2016” report.  This waste is happening for a variety of reasons such as: it is no longer useful for the organization, it took so long to be developed that it lost its relevance, more licenses were purchased than are being used or people that could use it don’t know that it’s available.  Software that sits idle is often a result of the primary user leaving the organization or a project being completed where the software was used.

Software development tools are a prime example of software that sits unused.  Organizations might purchase licenses for a software development support tool and have a group of employees trained on the software tool; however, down the road it is not uncommon to find only one, or even none of the employees, using it.

The challenge is that software development teams are so focused on meeting quantity and delivery date expectations, as well as quality requirements, that value is not typically top of mind, or considered at all.

This is not a special issue for IT departments.  It happens in all areas of a business.  Managers typically figure out that they have unused or underutilized software on the books when resources become tight and they start looking at their expenses

Software is a significant expense for most businesses today – more so than IT hardware, and therefore, it needs to be monitored carefully.  Of course, if a software application or tool is not being used, it is bringing no value to the organization and it should be determined whether it can still actually offer value or whether it should be removed.  If a software application is being used only occasionally or only by a few employees, it should also be carefully evaluated to determine whether the value it is delivering the business is worth the cost.  Evaluating your organization’s software utilization on an annual basis will help uncover software waste.

Have you ever evaluated the amount of unused or underutilized software in your organization?  You may be surprised to learn how much it’s costing your organization.

Michael D. Harris, CEO

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