There are variations in the expressions used throughout the western world. They are generally used to manage situations where some of the resources you need are missing, such as a dish that lacks several important ingredients. Nevertheless, the concept of reasoning applies not only to domestic life, but also to professional life – especially at a time when corporate finance is tight and it may not be appropriate to guarantee the ideal mix of resources.

The economic shock caused by the global pandemic was exactly the same for many companies – companies that faced a sharp drop in revenues and had to cut costs. While your ideal stack of digital assets may include new licenses for sexy business software, such costs may not be possible. Yet the need for operational efficiency has become more acute than ever – even a matter of survival.

For many organizations, however, there are ways to do this. They stem from the fact that a large part of the management software they already own contains functionalities that can significantly improve a company’s performance. But these possibilities are rarely used. Trusted office software is a good example. Research has shown that in the case of packaged applications such as Microsoft Office, only five percent of the functionality has been used by most customers. If the remaining 95% cannot use the mystery shop, they can save a considerable amount of time on staff and external services that would otherwise be needed.

But while MS Office can cost hundreds of dollars, an enterprise software license can cost tens of millions. And if it contains features that are rarely or never used, a significant part of that value is a waste of money. There’s nothing unusual about it. In the annual survey on software usage and waste, 1E reported that about 38% of the company’s software was wasted. For the average large airline, which has defined 1E as a company with 30,000 seats or more, this represents $7.4 million per year. 1E estimates that the United States and the United Kingdom alone spend about $34 billion a year on licensing. This includes 30% of the licensed applications that have never been used and another 8% that have been used less than once a month.

The specific characteristics vary from one industry to another. The situation was worse in the education sector: Approximately 47% of the licensed business software remained unused. Surprisingly, the public sector was the least wasteful – only 28 percent. The study also focused on specific applications. Camtasia Studio, a software for creating lessons and video presentations, has never been used by two-thirds of its licensees. This is followed by Crystal Reports with 63% and InDesign and Dreamweaver with 55%. However, more than 90% of the survey participants were licensed and paid for most of these rarely used applications.

Not surprisingly, hundreds of vendors want their specific brand of software to be added to your current technology stack with the promise that it will improve functionality and bring a world of benefits to your business. This is a standard approach to sales. But in some cases, many of the features that the new software promises to offer may already be available, albeit in a slightly different form, hidden among the rarely used features of your current stack.

What does this mean for companies struggling with the covidian economy? A few things. First of all, especially in difficult times, this means making sure your company gets the most out of the software you already own by licensing only those sites that are likely to need a particular application. And secondly, it means that instead of buying new software, it would be much more effective to show employees how to use already available software more efficiently and creatively.

Even for a generation of employees who grew up with digital devices, business software is not intuitive. Although the instructions from the software vendor and the IT department of your own company are valuable, they tend to focus on the most recent implementation. Once the basic training has been completed, employees are generally left to their own devices.

But a typical business software package is very complex and consists of millions of lines of code. An employee’s ability to remember everything needed for effective use is almost always insufficient. In addition, the software is regularly updated and the initial user training quickly becomes insufficient. This skills gap has become the focus of a new segment of the industry that Gartner calls Digital Adoption Solutions or DAS (Digital Implementation Solutions). The goal is to provide advice on software that helps users manage the complexity and ongoing configuration of their employer’s business systems. It works by automatically integrating on-screen pop-up prompts into the application and running them in real time, teaching users how to navigate the system faster and with more confidence. It remains with that user for the life of the software.

To learn more about the use of business software, my company – which is part of the DAS sector – commissioned a study that focused on companies with CRM systems. We found that less than half of their salesmen actually used them. As a result, 70 percent of the companies surveyed felt that the software they had licensed had not produced the expected results. However, our research confirmed that most of these organizations believe that if vendors accepted their CRM, they could significantly increase sales productivity and achieve significant savings for the company.

It is important to understand that DAS solutions are not intended to replace vendor training or internal training in the use of IT applications; they remain valuable. But traditional teaching methods are outdated. Instead, think of DAS as an interactive application that runs on your organization’s cloud-based solutions, where it is available on demand, in context and on demand, without compromising the performance of the underlying software. It is a tool for rapid professional development and overcoming excuses for not making decisions.

However, to ensure that you get the most out of the software you are currently using under license, it makes sense to conduct usage audits at regular intervals. They can help you determine whether you need to lower, create, maintain or change your current license level. In some cases there may be license pools where not all stations are allowed, but where users can rotate themselves. However, this will not work for all packages because not all licenses are the same. Each of them has its own facilities and the management of the different types of permits is very important, because not making these facilities can lead to heavy fines.

So, before you decide to license new software for your company, you should check with the suppliers of the software you have already installed to see how far they can go in performing the task you have planned. Encourage employees to help each other get the most out of your stack. And think about using educational systems such as the DAS to improve your skills and complement them with what you have.

Photo rentals: rnl/Shutterstock

Khadim Batti is the co-founder and CEO of Whatfix.

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