Carmarthenshire County Council
Carmarthenshire County Council employs over 9,000 employees and provides services across the rural Welsh county to a population of around 180,500.
At a time when councils across the UK are under unprecedented pressure to cut costs and reign back on unnecessary investment wherever possible, analyzing the software assets within the organization was imperative for the council to understand the value of the software and areas where costs could be saved or cut.
Carmarthenshire County Council implemented Snow License Manager in January 2011. In order to maximize the features within the SAM tool, Snow and Carmarthenshire worked in unison to configure the system to suit the requirements of the authority. This included two intensive four-day training sessions for IT staff at the council, where they were able to test and use the product, install and configure it, and then have another training session to follow up six weeks later.
BENEFITS AND ROI
Snow License Manager enabled Carmarthenshire to conduct a full audit backed up by useful analyzed data about its licenses, user behavior and support contracts that has helped the authority in a number of ways. The SAM tools provided the IT team with the insight to more efficiently re-purpose the software it had already deployed.
Gaining greater insight into its IT estate, including software, was a key driver for Carmarthenshire County Council when implementing a Software Asset Management (SAM) solution. Coupled with the increasing budget pressures on all public sector organizations across the UK, the authority needed to initiate cost savings and create more effective strategic planning around its technology infrastructure while providing a more efficient and valuable service to users.
Carmarthenshire County Council employs over 9,000 employees and provides services across the rural Welsh county to a population of around 180,500. It is made up of six Directorates: Chief Executives; Education and Children’s Services; Social Care and Housing; Technical Services; Regeneration and Leisure; and Resources. The IT department services all six units across more than 110 sites with a total number of around 4,500 devices which are assets that need to be managed and controlled.
At a time when councils across the UK are under unprecedented pressure to cut costs and reign back on unnecessary investment wherever possible, analyzing the software assets within the organization was imperative for the council to understand the value of the software and areas where costs could be saved or cut. Managing such a wide and regionally diverse spread of technology meant that while Carmarthenshire had a good understanding of its hardware assets, the organization had a limited picture of the software installed on its 4,500 devices or more importantly how that software was being used and whether it was required. For example, some of the council’s 3,500 users owned more than one device, and some would rarely connect their laptops to the network, making it difficult to know what applications were installed, used or patched correctly.
Forward planning a desktop and server strategy was a time and resource-intensive process involving laborious paper trails, a large number of different business units within departments and employees, and in some cases, estimations of where technology resided and what was needed by the various directorates. The IT unit required a more accurate way of planning to better save costs and ensure the success of its strategy in the long term.
Carmarthenshire’s IT Projects Consultant, Mark Howard, said: “We didn’t just want a software asset management tool that we would pay lip service to. We wanted a tool that would give us more than just an inventory of what we have, but would also add a business intelligence layer to the data that would help us with future planning and the strategic aspirations of the IT department.”
Alongside the budget restraints and the need for greater insight, the council was expecting a SAM review from a software vendor to ensure it was compliant and meeting its contractual and legal obligations, and had enough licenses at the right level, for the amount of software it was using.
Following discussions with a local partner, Dyfed Powys Police Constabulary, who were already using Snow Software, and after an evaluation period, Carmarthenshire County Council implemented Snow Licence Manager in January 2011. In order to maximize the features within the SAM tool, Snow and Carmarthenshire worked in unison to configure the system to suit the requirements of the authority. This included two intensive four-day training sessions for IT staff at the council, where they were able to test and use the product, install and configure it, and then have another training session to follow up six weeks later. Howard said: “This knowledge transfer helped us to get the day-to-day procurement view of our technology and manage what we already have more effectively. It also helped us to give us a broader, higher level picture of our infrastructure.”
Gaining an overview of its software assets initially meant Carmarthenshire was able to see it was slightly over licensed with the auditing vendor. This enabled the council to start saving costs almost immediately by reducing the number of licenses required for that vendor’s products.
However, Snow License Manager also enabled Carmarthenshire to conduct a full audit backed up by useful analyzed data about its licenses, user behavior and support contracts that has helped the authority in a number of ways. The SAM tools provided the IT team with the insight to more efficiently re-purpose the software it had already deployed. Previously, new software licences were purchased as and when they were required by the various directorates. However, now the IT team is able to first check to see if there are surplus licenses within the organization and, if not, they are able to see if there are licenses associated with software that is not being used. Thereby the IT team can remove the software not being used and deploy it where it is required. This deep insight means that the IT department is able to provide a better service to users – ensuring their machines are not clogged by software they don’t use, while also saving the departments money by not over-buying software already available within the council’s estate. All of which helps to enhance the reputation of the IT team among council departments.
“In many cases we find users aren’t using all the software they have on their machines, so if this is the case, we uninstall it from one machine and reinstall where it’s required. By re-harvesting the software it means we’re saving costs and we’re giving users what they need. Each department is required to find costs savings, and now we are able to help them achieve this, without them having to cut back on other resources,” Howard said.
Howard identified areas where the council could incur a reduction in spending early on in the project and estimated that Snow Software would show an ROI within between 12 months and 24 months. Having greater insight within its estate also means the council is able to provide this information to its software vendors. For example, Microsoft and other software suppliers now conduct fewer reviews on the council because they have greater confidence in the authority’s ability to track its licenses and be fully compliant. And fewer audits mean less time spent by the IT team managing the process and more time on innovative projects and user assistance.
On a strategic level, Carmarthenshire is using Snow License Manager to help provide business intelligence for its desktop and server strategy over the next five years. Government budget pressures mean the council has to do more with less and won’t be upgrading its hardware as frequently. Snow License Manager gives the council a detailed view of the capabilities of its hardware and insight into what software can run without creating support issues within its existing PC spec. This helps the authority to proactively build an accurate, appropriate strategy based on deploying a higher grade operating system, or operating a thin-client model, for example.
“We need to be creative with our desktop strategy – and now we know what we have and also what we use, this has saved a huge amount of the time and effort that would have been required to do this level of strategic forward planning. The tool has given us insight which leads to more informed options.” The insight is also helping to drive structural change within the authority to better manage budgetary restraints against user requirements. Software is considered an asset of the council and the authority will also now be able to negotiate better procurement rates with vendors, and in future ensure each department is only paying for the software it actually uses, based on the Snow deep insight.
“As IT services, we are now taking an active role in helping to save the authority money – and therefore save our council tax-payers’ money. Snow Software has enabled us to use hard data to make better, more informed decisions about our future desktop strategy and ways in which we can provide the most effective and efficient service to our users,” concluded Howard. Paul Roberts, Senior Account Manager at Snow Software, said: “One of the biggest challenges facing the public sector is the emphasis on optimizing the use of existing assets and produce tangible and measurable cost savings across the IT estate. Our solutions can be deployed within complex and diverse environments in a very short timescale and produce real cost savings.
“Carmarthenshire has been able to deploy our software to the entire estate to generate a new level of visibility into what assets it has and more importantly how they are being used. Snow License Manager provides software metering across all applications which in turn allows organizations like Carmarthenshire to make much more informed procurement decisions and better utilize its existing IT investments. Carmarthenshire is now in a position to properly map its technology roadmap both today and in the future based around real and verified requirements.”
“Each department is required to find costs savings, and now we are able to help them achieve this.”