STUDENT LOANS COMPANY CLARIFIES VIEW OF IT ASSETS WITH CRC
The Student Loans Company (SLC) is wholly owned by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Scottish ministers. Its aim is to provide financial services, in terms of loans and grants, to over one million students annually, in colleges and universities across the four education systems of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The SLC also has to administer and collect payments from over two million customers no longer in higher education.
Being a public sector organization reporting to a government minister, the SLC is under scrutiny to manage IT costs efficiently and demonstrate software compliance at all times. To meet these objectives the SLC chose to join the Federation Against Software Theft (FAST) Corporate program to benchmark their existing infrastructure, develop best practice policies and procedures and ultimately demonstrate control over their IT Assets.
It was whilst preparing for the FAST Gold Level Certificate that the SLC called upon CRC to improve visibility of their IT estate. “We were having some support issues with the reseller that sold us the IT auditing tool” said Theresa Kilpatrick, Software Licensing Manager, Student Loans Company. “When we phoned them for support they either did not have the experience of the product or nobody was available to take the call.”
CRC were recommended to the SLC by another member of the IT team who had worked with the IT Asset Management specialists at a previous company. “Word of mouth about their expertise won them the business. They understood the problems we were facing and worked closely with us to regain confidence in our audit data and progress the software compliance project to completion. They are on the ball, really understand the product and understand our business“ stated Kilpatrick.
CRC worked closely with the SLC and Centennial Software, the manufacturer of their audit tool to iron out the software recognition issues they were facing. “When we first worked with CRC we were going for our first year of Gold FAST certification and the poor visibility of data was holding things up. Sometimes it feels as though resellers are simply passing messages back and forth from the vendor but CRC worked closely to project manage all issues to resolution and were excellent at communicating to ensure everyone was on the same page” said Kilpatrick.
The SLC use Centennial Discovery to maintain a clear view of their software and hardware assets and to see what is in use.
“Centennial Discovery is the ‘seek and find’ for us, providing a dynamically-updated pc audit and software inventory of all IT assets, we then use Software Organiser to reconcile the Discovery data. It has the standard descriptions for software in the appropriate categories and we can use their reconciliation workbench to monitor our compliance position. We then look at the audit data and see if we can find software not being used for six months and remove it rather than buying additional licenses. We don’t purchase what we don’t need.”
The SLC have also implemented a number of process and policy changes to optimize their expenditure on software licenses and recognize that an effective software asset management system is not simply a matter of implementing an audit tool.
Concluding, Kilpatrick stated “An audit tool is not a silver bullet to solve all of your software compliance problems. No one tool does everything. We have policies and procedures in place which are reviewed regularly. We have an acceptable use policy and a reminder of our policy during login. We have taken the time to ensure all of our staff and well educated on the software policy and have implemented company-wide processes”.
Later this year, the SLC will be auditing by FAST with a view to gaining the Platinum Award, in recognition of three continuous years of compliance to the FAST standard.
CRC can be found here.