As the company grew in size and global coverage, Burns & McDonnell found themselves spending more and more on engineering software licenses. They realized that they needed to be able to effectively manage over $30 million worth of investments in various engineering technologies across the globe. They needed a solution that can meter and analyze their software usage.
“We had this idea that it was going to be important to manage these licenses. As we’ve grown over the last 24 years, we’ve seen digits getting added to our contract renewals. As employee-owners, we would rather make good investments and see how we’re leveraging our money. We have to know where it’s going and how we’re using it,” says Michael Allen, Director of Engineering Technology at Burns & McDonnell.
One of the main challenges that they had to face was that several license renewals were hitting them on the same year. In addition, some vendors were also introducing changes in their licensing models and/or license managers. They knew these renewals were going to be a significant spend and they wanted to explore ways of taking control of their overheads. They needed to look at their software usage data.
They already had the ability to collect usage data through log files. However, considering the number and vriety of licenses they have, it would have been a massive undertaking for the company. They already had the ability to collect usage data through log files. However, considering the number and variety of licenses they have, it would have been a massive undertaking for the company.
“It was not scalable for Burns & McDonnell. We’re not going to staff up to the level that we need in order to be able to interpret such massive amounts of data,” added Michael.
Looking for a software metering solution
They then began to look for software usage metering and reporting solutions that would not only allow them to look at their software usage data, but also create various reports that would help them maximize their licenses and make better decisions.
“We said, ‘Show us what you can do. How broad are you? How many applications can you track? How deep can you dig? How well can you interpret the data that’s coming out of these applications? How agile are you? Do we have to set up servers? Do we have to manage and patch the software constantly?’ Those are the kind of criteria that we laid out that we were going to score the solutions that we were considering,” Michael claimed.
After an extensive search for software usage metering solutions that meet all their requirements, they decided to deploy Open iT for its ability to meter a wide range of applications, whether they are standalone, named user, or concurrent; perpetual, subscription, or pay-per-use; on premise or in the cloud; etc.
“We did not want to set up infrastructure. We did not want to increase the administration cost to manage licenses. So, it had to be a service that we were going to subscribe to,” disclosed Michael. “It had to come with intellectual knowledge. ‘Did these people know? Can they add value to the process? Do they understand the data that they’re surfacing? Can they help us by recommending things that we may not see at first glance?”
The benefits of metering software usage
After a successful installation and initial data collection, they began to reap the benefits of the Open iT solution. One of the immediately apparent advantages is the transparency in software usage. The Open iT web portal allowed users to log in and see the list of products and features, who has the license, and their utilization.
During the pandemic lockdowns, there were changes in the users’ schedules because they had to work from home and heat maps played a key role in showing them the time frames when licenses were available, thus avoiding denials.
“We also saw the opportunity to make better business decisions,” said Michael.
They had a software that they spent $85,000 a year for two seats. They asked the two users if the software was necessary, and the initial response was that it was business critical. However, looking at the data, it was clear that both licenses were barely used for the entire year. So, they asked if it was possible for the users to just share one license. When the business leaders saw the data, they decided that if they could not sell enough projects to justify paying for the licenses, they were just not going to bid on that kind of projects anymore and simply let go of the licenses.
Software usage data also allowed them to be agile in a fast-changing industry. “We saw some infrastructure packages. We saw increases in the number of transportation projects that were being awarded. We saw people put refineries on hold for a little bit. We saw manufacturing centers get put on hold. We saw a huge increase in data centers. So, as we saw the markets shifting because of the world circumstances, we were able to look at how it affected our licensing and found an effective license position for us,” expressed Michael.
As for what he would say to companies that want to optimize their engineering licenses, Michael advised, “Start early. The faster you get into optimizing. The more opportunities you have to save. We were probably closer to 10% savings on our licensing [since the deployment of Open iT solution], and that’s with a 6% year over year growth.”
Learn more about the software usage metering and optimization journey of Burns & McDonnell from this webinar.
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