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How to manage your charity's software

Does your charity know what software is installed on all of its equipment? Are you using the latest version of software? Do you have licenses for all the software? How do you know if you’re complying with the licenses? If staff work from home, do you know what software is installed on their computers?

Here’s some tips on how you can manage this process for your charity.

Things you'll need

  • Access to all computers used by your organisation.

Do an audit

Find out what software is installed on each piece of hardware that your charity owns/provides. Don’t forget to check any equipment that you provide to the public or that they can access and check any computers used by staff off-site too.

Tools which help you perform this task are Belarc Advisor (free for personal use on individual computers only), ManageEngine (free for upto 25 computers on your network) or Spiceworks (free and very powerful for server based organisations).

You should also check the software requirements of staff / those who access your IT equipment and what they need.

Keep a central software inventory and establish 'ownership' or each piece of software or business function to control what is on your network. At the Wellcome Trust, software was being purchased and installed without the IT team knowing about it. They had multiple versions and variations of the same software installed across the organisation. As a result, they were spending thousands of pounds on new and renewed software that wasn’t even in use and duplicating software licenses that already existed.

Wellcome Trust conducted an audit of their software and the result was that a lot of it was old, obsolete, had been duplicated or was redundant. 


Get rid of unnecessary software

The audit should identify all the software that your charity has installed on your IT equipment and the software that it needs. You may discover that you are paying for software that no-one in your charity is using – a perfect excuse to stop paying for it and save money! 

The Wellcome Trust were able to reduce the number of applications it was using from 1,000 to 275 following their audit, saving them £820,000 in licencing costs. 


Comply with all your software licenses

Check the licenses of all the software that you need and use. Make sure you understand how to comply with the license requirements. The next step is to implement a system which shows all the current software in use, license requirements, expiry dates and any other useful information.

Check how many copies of the software you are allowed to install and how many concurrent users you are allowed under the terms of your license with the supplier. Check carefully about re-use of a licence if a member of staff leaves the organisation.

Make sure you don’t renew any software licenses without checking if the software is being used. 


Keep your software up to date

Most software is now configured to automatically be updated over the internet from the software vendors own servers. Make sure you have ticked the box to allow this to happen when you install the software. Although these updates seem to happen too frequently and at the worst possible moments (particularly with Windows), they are vital to ensure your software is as up to date and secure as possible.

Check if you can set the updates to be downloaded and installed at a time when you aren't using your computer.


Manage software purchases

In order to manage software purchases, you should have a system or process that monitors software requests and purchases. 

Following their audit, the Wellcome Trust reports quarterly on purchases, installations, compliance and unused software. This means that their IT team has instant access to an accurate view of the software being purchased and used. They can also keep track of software that’s no longer in use and/or has been decommissioned. 

Further information

Phoenix Software contributed to this how-to guide - Phoenix Software are the UK’s leading independent provider of software licensing, software asset management services and IT infrastructure. Read a case study on how the Wellcome Trust worked with Phoenix Software to increase their software compliance score from 63% to 97% and make a saving of £820,000.

Through the Technology Trust donation store registered UK charities can purchase heavily discounted software and operating systems from Microsoft, Adobe, Norton, BitDefender, Tableau and others. 


Page last edited Jul 05, 2017 History

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