Local authorities are spending too much on their software licences and need to do better on auditing their assets and sharing best practice, according the leaders of a research project on the subject.
Portsmouth Business School and software management specialist The Business Software Centre said that councils could save £168 million a year by better managing their assets, and that there are wide discrepancies between how much different authorities pay for similar packages. They are feeding the findings in a software efficiency programme being developed with the support of Socitm.
The business school, which is part of the University of Portsmouth, ran a survey through freedom of information requests, receiving responses from 129 of the 158 councils it contacted. It asked questions such as how much they had spent in the past financial year on software licences, how many users they had, whether they measured usage and whether they used a software management tool.
They discovered a wide spread of the annual cost per user of licences at different councils, ranging from below £100 to more than £1,000 in a few cases, and that many did not have firm idea of how many people licensed to use the systems actually did so, often lacking the tools to measure usage. Many were buying an excess of licences because of worries about legal compliance without being sure they were actually needed.