Common MFP software licensing pitfalls that IT managers must avoid

Software licences and maintenance comprise 20 per cent of IT budgets as a general rule, yet the management of licences is often neglected and falls far behind that of hardware assets.

By paying more attention to this important area, IT managers, particularly those in medium-sized and smaller enterprises, can make substantial savings as well as avoid implementation and usage problems when it comes to the licensing of software used on multi-function printers (MFPs).

In my view, IT managers should look to avoid the following all-too-common software licensing pitfalls:

Not paying attention to future requirements

There are two fundamentally different licensing models for MFP-based software – user-based licences and device-based licences.

With user-based licences, there is a licence charge for each user on the system, regardless of how often (or infrequently) they use the software. Companies are charged simply for providing users with the right to use the software, independent of how often they it.

With device-based licensing, there is a charge for how many MFPs are being used, regardless of how many people use it. MFPs can also be licensed for specific features.

In this case, future licensing costs depend on plans for future MFP purchases or personnel expansion and location, and the type of features needed by person. Without some idea of this, a model may be chosen that is sub-optimally adapted to the future needs of the organisation.

Not establishing and investigating alternative usage scenarios

Ordering licences without looking at alternatives can be an expensive mistake. A complex IT estate including multiple locations and servers could be licensed either through enterprise licences or local server licences. The centralised method could be cheaper yet place too much strain on the network and cause usage issues. A local server solution would solve this but it could prove to be expensive in terms of server licences and implementation costs. The key determinant is business ROI – but better to plan in advance rather than face embarrassment later.

Not being aware of upgrade policy

Some software packages require an upgrade to be purchased when a major version release is launched. Others will automatically include a major version upgrade if the customer keeps maintenance up to date – this is usually the case with cloud-based software. And others will provide a free major version upgrade if software is purchased within a certain period before the major release happens. The point here is that what happens in the future when upgrades occur should be factored into decisions determining the choice of software.

In summary, canny IT managers should look carefully at the licensing model for their MFP software to see which one will work best – now and in the years to come. The cost savings could prove to be significant as could the operational benefits of a flexible, scalable and trouble-free software licensing model.

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