Global Partners CIO Ken Piddington discusses how the company works with its vendors, especially its software vendors, and enlists them as strategic partners.
Whose responsibility is it to manage the licenses? Is there a member of your team who does so primarily, or does it depend on the software and who the primary user of it is?
The responsibility of managing software licenses is the responsibility of my team in IT regardless of the product or the primary user. This was not always the case. Previously, it was managed by the primary user of the software. With our rapid growth and software systems being utilized by multiple business units, this method was no longer practical or cost effective. With the demonstrated successes of our Strategic Partner Program and our holistic view of the organization, the management of these licenses was handed over to IT.
How often are they reviewed?
As part of our Strategic Partner Program we do a yearly review with all our vendors and twice a year with some mission-critical software vendors. This yearly review is part of the vendor assessment component of our program. Within the assessment are scoring items related to software license, maintenance management and value. Again, due to our rapid growth and the evolution of Global Partners, we have processes in place to review the software systems we have in order to ensure that they are still meeting current needs, planned future needs and that we are receiving the right value from the products compared to market competitors. Basically for mission-critical software systems we do a software review and RFI every couple of years. This ensures that we have the right products for our growth strategies, that the ROI or TCO from the product is still meeting our targets, and that we keep the vendors working to provide us continued value. It doesn't let them get too comfortable as an incumbent.
You've mentioned the Strategic Partner Program a few times through our conversation. What lessons have you garnered from having done the program for a few years now?
One of the biggest lessons we learned is that you have to continually review your software systems and vendor partner capabilities to ensure you have the right products and partners for your growth strategy. We found that we had many systems in place that had been here a long time and that they served us well when our primary business was as a distillate products wholesaler. Not all of those systems were able to scale and accommodate our growth in an efficient and effective manner and as such continuing to rely and utilize these systems would reduce or slow down the ROI of our new growth opportunities. So creating an environment of continuous improvement not just for processes but for software systems and vendor partnerships is critical to achieving the expected ROI from software system investments.
About the Author
Peter High is president of Metis Strategy, a boutique IT-strategy consultancy based in Washington, D.C. A contributor to CIO Insight, High is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs, and the moderator of the podcast, The Forum on World Class IT. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.