Best Practices for Governance and Compliance using an Enterprise App Store

Introduction

Easier access to business apps through an enterprise app store delivers clear benefits for employees. That alone is a compelling reason for embracing this technology. However, the self-service model also offers major benefits for the enterprise. If implemented following best practices, enterprise app stores can reduce license compliance risks and license fees, while increasing the ROI of the application portfolio. Reducing software spending and maintaining proper governance and compliance of software licenses is an imperative for organizations of any size. Defining and implementing a strategy for an enterprise app store following a few best practices will make a huge difference with a very meaningful ROI, but without the right solution, an app store can compound existing problems.

IT organizations in many enterprises are establishing enterprise app stores to respond to shifting user demands and the need to understand software usage and optimize spend. About 19 percent of enterprises report having some sort of app store initiative in place. Gartner, Inc. estimates that by 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will have an app store for managing corporate-sanctioned apps on PCs and mobile devices.

Enterprises must take care that the enterprise app store does not exacerbate the problem of maintaining software license compliance. IT has to ensure that sufficient software licenses are available to meet the needs of the business. Another important consideration is that the app store must help ensure that the software installed on users devices is actually being used and not sitting idle. Without proper oversight and governance, these problems can quickly compound and result in license compliance audits and fines as well as overbuying of software licenses. An enterprise app store can help find the right balance between too many licenses that drive up costs and too few licenses that increase compliance risk.

App stores not only address the business need for control of software licensing, but also meet modern employees’ expectations for a consumer-driven experience when it comes to accessing IT services in the workplace. The benefits in terms of higher employee productivity and improved satisfaction are compelling. In addition, by automating one-off software requests and enabling self-service operating system deployments and migrations, an enterprise app store saves many hours of expensive IT staff time, driving down costs substantially. Here are a few real-world examples of the tangible results realized:

  • At Avnet, Inc., wait times for applications that don’t require approvals dropped from two days to just a few minutes, and IT no longer has to physically install applications on desktop computers.
  • For Kuoni, Inc., an enterprise app store has eliminated routine service desk calls in which users request applications to be pushed out to them. The result is reduced help desk staffing requirements and costs.
  • At Providence Health, applications are now delivered without IT intervention, saving hundreds of hours of staff time. Instead of taking four days, software requests are fulfilled in two hours or less.

The challenge for IT is to offer users a consumer-like experience while still maintaining control. That requires establishing best-practice processes for implementing and managing the app store, and supporting and automating those processes with the right technology.

This paper presents seven best practices that have been identified based on the experiences of early adopters and research from independent firms such as Gartner, Inc., and Forrester Research. It also describes how the right app store solution can support these practices. By applying these best practices, you can ensure success and maximize the value that your enterprise app store delivers.

Why Build an Enterprise App Store?

Compared to the consumer market, enterprise software request and fulfillment processes continue to be manual, labor intensive and highly inefficient, resulting in higher licensing costs, lack of governance, and longer service delivery times. A properly implemented enterprise app store addresses these issues.

Reduce Costs

Consequently, it’s important to ensure that licenses are purchased and allocated in the most cost-effective manner. Unfortunately most enterprises lack visibility into and control of their software licensing and this results in either of two outcomes: license overbuying or license underbuying.

In license overbuying, the enterprise purchases more licenses than required to satisfy the application needs of the business. Due to concerns about breaching contract terms as well as lack of visibility into license position and application usage, many enterprises simply “play it safe” and overbuy licenses. As employees leave or move to new positions, applications licenses are lost tack off and as a result, many of these licenses sit idle and soak up money unnecessarily.

In license underbuying, the enterprise has not purchased enough licenses to cover its application usage. Underbuying often occurs because, software is installed without checking for license availability. At audit time, enterprises that underbuy often face substantial true-up costs. According to a recent survey on software pricing and licensing, the norm for these true-up costs is in the six- or seven-figure range. These true-up costs are typically unbudgeted, so IT has to take dollars from other programs to pay the bill, which may mean passing up opportunities for business innovation.

A 2013 study indicated that 80 percent of enterprises say that overbuying and underbuying are important concerns yet only about 33 percent were satisfied with how they were handling them.

A well-implemented enterprise app store that works in concert with a Software License Optimization solution can help mitigate both outcomes and drive down costs substantially. For example, the solution can reclaim and reuse idle licenses based on application usage data provided by the Software License Optimization solution. This process mitigates overbuying by making full use of existing licenses before triggering the purchase of new ones. The app store can also eliminate the true-up costs caused by underbuying by ensuring that a license is available before fulfilling a user’s request for an application.

Additionally, the labor-intensive manual software request and fulfillment process in many enterprises is highly inefficient. Each request involves not only a help desk agent, but also a technical specialist who may have to travel to the requester’s site to install the software. That inefficiency drives up costs. By automating request and delivery and enabling user self-service, the app store minimizes the need for IT staff intervention. The result is a dramatic reduction in costs.

Speed Service Delivery

In 75 percent of enterprises, users have to submit a help desk ticket to request software and then wait for delivery, which can take anywhere from a day to weeks, even months (in many cases, the help desk views these requests as low-priority items). Meanwhile, users have little or no feedback regarding request status. Consequently, they often view the help desk as a black hole when it comes to software requests.