Improving Transparency in the Software Supply Chain

This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent market trend report “Improve Your Software Supply Chain With Next-Generation Asset Management.” Download the full report here

One of the biggest barriers to improved software supply chain management is the fact that government and its software vendors aren’t using the same terminology and baseline data to clearly communicate what software is being purchased and how it’s being used.

“This lack of information sharing often creates an adversarial relationship, which erodes trust and leads to increased costs for both parties,” said Walker White, Senior Vice President for Products at Flexera.

When the buyer-supplier relationship is not rooted in trust and built on shared data, agencies end up overbuying or underbuying software. For vendors, issues can arise with lost revenue because they’re overservicing clients.

“For an agency to operate effectively, they don’t want to be in a firefighting mode,” White said. “If we can enable and promote trust and transparency between buyers and suppliers, such that they talk about their technology assets with a shared language, then we will effectively allow both sides to reach their respective business goals with much more efficiency and at a much lower cost.”

There are a few other significant challenges agencies face when it comes to software supply chain management, including:

• Understanding what they need in terms of software and number of licenses

• Knowing what they already have in their software inventory

• Ensuring that the software they’re using is secure

Let’s explore each of these challenges a little further. In order for agencies to understand what is needed from a software perspective, they must be able to identify their mission requirements, understand what they need to achieve specific business outcomes and know what technologies can help to meet those needs. Executing on these tasks are easier said than done and can pose great challenges for large agencies with varying responsibilities and mission requirements.

“Gartner data shows at least 30 percent of all software spend is wasted,” White said. The reasons? Organizations don’t have an accurate assessment of what is needed, or the software they purchased was never used.

In some cases, agencies have the necessary software capabilities at their disposal through existing contracts and agreements. However, they don’t know what’s already in use across the enterprise. Then there’s the issue of cybersecurity vulnerabilities, which can only be identified through accurate asset data coming from the software supply chain.

Adopting a Software Asset Management Solution

Agencies need a comprehensive software asset management solution that enables them to gain visibility and control of IT assets; reduce ongoing software costs; and maintain continuous license compliance.

The solution agencies adopt should enable asset discovery. Discovery helps agencies to understand what software licenses they are currently using, how many and where they are being used — if at all.

“Most agencies have plenty of tools, and frankly multiple tools deployed onto individual systems,” White said. But the raw data generated by those tools does not provide a comprehensive software inventory.

A software asset management solution should also normalize agencies’ raw data to ensure that a common language is used for every piece of software and hardware in the enterprise. When a common language is in place, agencies can better understand their buying habits and make the necessary adjustments to meet their current and future needs.

Organizations that are most successful at improving software supply chain management are those that leverage a software asset management solution to normalize their data and then use that data for analytical purposes to answer questions about their software usage and costs. Ultimately, these practices lead to increased standardization, improved cybersecurity and better compliance.

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