Since we first implemented an IT and Software Asset Management (IT/SAM) solution in the summer of 2003, Vanderbilt Law (one of 10 schools that comprise Vanderbilt University) has benefited from streamlining the process of inventorying our 350 desktops and associated software. The greatest advantages to date include a more accurate and comprehensive approach to license compliance, a significant reduction in software licensing costs, and dramatic time savings for our IT staff with respect to day-to-day management of our IT and software assets.

We had two main drivers for implementing an IT/SAM tool, both of which were met–and exceeded–by software vendor Express Metrix. First, campus IT had initiated a program that held each individual department on campus accountable for maintaining its own software compliance. Express Metrix’s IT/SAM solution enables us to respond to this need by generating complete, precise compliance reports at any time, on the fly, rather than running into a surprise audit six months later and needing to devote staff time to compiling a manual inventory. By running these reports on a regular basis, we can now take a proactive approach to software license compliance, which has given us greater confidence and peace of mind.

Our other main driver at Vanderbilt Law was cost reduction. For one thing, we were investing in a lot of software that simply wasn’t being used. We knew we were over-installed on a number of titles, but we weren’t able to pinpoint exactly where until working with Express Metrix. By integrating our inventory and purchasing information, we’re now only buying or upgrading the software that we need.

One example of cost savings that we achieved right away with Express Metrix involved Adobe Acrobat. We learned during the first year that almost half of the installed copies–at $50 per license–were not being used. With this information, we were able to significantly reduce our upgrade costs. Over the three-year period that we’ve been using Express Metrix products, we’ve easily saved more than $10,000 on software upgrades alone. Furthermore, we no longer buy unnecessary new licenses, and we can redeploy unused copies to other people at the law school who need them.

Not only have we been able to optimize our software assets since implementing Express Metrix’s IT/SAM products, but we’ve also been able to make better use of IT staff members’ time on the clock. This has saved us thousands of dollars in man-hours. Our staff members are no longer spending their time conducting tedious, manual inventories and trying to document everything in Excel spreadsheets that are nearly impossible to keep accurate and up to date. This has been important not only to our bottom line, but it also represents a higher return on our human capital, because we’re getting more work done. Before we moved to our automated system, it was reasonable for one full-time staff member to take an entire two weeks per year doing a manual inventory–that’s 80 staff hours per person, minimum, that we couldn’t devote to more strategic projects. With Express Metrix’s technology in place, staff can be shifted to projects that are more productive and beneficial to the university–like helping students with the educational mission of the school, which is the reason we’re all here.

Our faculty members also have proven to be fans of Express Metrix solutions. Because the Law School rotates its computers on a four-year cycle, it’s particularly important–and challenging–for our IT staff to keep track of and support the hardware and software installed on those machines. With Express Metrix Web Reports, we can instantly pull up a profile of faculty computers and provide the needed support.

For example, we’ve had faculty members call our support desk and say, "I need to play this DVD on my computer." By relying on these reports, we can instantly tell whether a given professor has a DVD player, can burn data to a disk, or has a CD writer on his or her computer. A lot of faculty members also need their computers for empirical analysis, and because the data sets are so large, we need to know how much memory they have on their systems. Express Metrix products enable us to see attributes like these–in a matter of seconds–and we can then make the necessary upgrades or accommodations to those machines. We now have an accurate and complete "big-picture" view, and that’s what we were missing before getting this technology solution in place.

All of these benefits are particularly useful when it comes to our school’s remote machines. Because we have 350 machines total, 75 of which are mobile laptops that might or might not be connected to the network, it’s really important and convenient for us to be able to quickly conduct complete, accurate software and hardware inventories, whether our equipment is on site or away from campus. Our technology has the ability to report, over any internet connection, a full inventory of our IT and software assets–even if someone is logged on from a hotel room in Europe.

These achievements have not gone unnoticed, and administrators at the Law School are definitely pleased with what we’ve accomplished. Now we’re able to get complete, organized information on our software and hardware quickly–every time it’s needed. We can easily generate all of the information and answers we need using Express Metrix’s Web Reports. And now, when we are asked specific questions, we can tell our decision-makers, "Here’s exactly the hardware that we have," or "Here’s all of the software we’ve purchased in the last six months."

In short, three years ago, we needed solutions at Vanderbilt Law to help us achieve license compliance and contain IT costs. By providing quick, comprehensive, and organized inventories, Express Metrix’s technology has enabled us to realize these goals and more. The investment easily paid for itself within the first year alone, and we continue to take advantage of all of the rewards it has offered.

Links:

Vanderbilt University Law School
http://law.vanderbilt.edu

Express Metrix
http://www.expressmetrix.com/