The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development (DFATD) contributes to economic prosperity of Canada with an emphasis on expanding and diversifying commercial relationships with emerging and high-growth markets and increasing Canada’s economic and political engagement with other countries. Supporting 13,000 users across 16,000 desktops globally, the IT organization is focused on ensuring that employees can access the technology they need to do their jobs anytime from anywhere.
Craig Pavia, the Deputy Director of Business Process Engineering and Solutions, and his team were charged with architecting a solution to streamline the business process of getting applications to end users and reducing the manual tasks that were consuming valuable IT resources. The evaluation of the business process identified big challenges:
- Users were unaware of what software was available to them
- Users did not know the cost of software to their organization
- Application requests could take a month or longer to fulfill
- IT had no visibility into application usage or license availability
- With the “install it and forget it” approach, licenses were often lost track of
The team determined that an enterprise app store would improve the end user experience and automate the application request process.
The Department uses Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) to manage a very distributed network with approximately 174 locations world-wide. When considering an enterprise app store, it was mandatory that the product not duplicate SCCM functionality or generate additional wide-area network (WAN) traffic. Only two products met that criteria; Flexera App Portal and a competitor. In the end the major deciding factor was that App Portal supported software license reclamation out of the box and the competing product required other related products at additional cost to do the same thing.
Using App Portal, the department launched apps@DFATD, a new service that allows staff across its international network to shop for desktop software applications using a self-serve interface without any training given the familiar consumer experience. The app store is available in French and English, supporting the Government of Canada’s Policy on Official Languages, and in the first six months, over 35% of self-service software requests were generated from an office outside of Canada.
The Department has increased transparency by providing users with a list of available applications and licensing cost. The approval workflow automatically routes software requests to the proper manager. Managers approve or reject requests in a timely fashion and the user is not required to know who has signing authority, which prevents delays in identifying the appropriate manager. To support faster and better decision-making, approving managers are provided information about why the user is requesting the application, as well as the license cost to the department. A record of all requests, approvals, and rejections is maintained through integration with their ITSM system, BMC Remedy, allowing Software Asset Managers to keep track of requests and installs associated with each asset record.
App Portal also helped transform DFATD’s Software Asset Management (SAM) program by providing asset managers with a tool for governance of software assets that fully automates the processes of monitoring software inventory and reclaiming unused licenses to ensure financial accountability. In the past, DFATD tracked and reclaimed four applications every 3-6 months using a cumbersome process that involved running three SCCM metering reports over a 90-day period. The data was then consolidated and manually sorted to create a list of users who had not used the application for 90 days or more. The list was then given to SCCM operations staff to uninstall the software.
This process would take about three weeks to complete. The cost exceeded $10,000 per year, and only covered four of the most popular software assets. Without apps@DFATD, it would have cost the Department more than $60,000 per year to reclaim the 11 software applications that apps@DFATD currently reclaims. Each additional application would have cost another $5,000 per year. Although this costly and laborious process led to major cost savings and better overall software management, the Department needed a tool that would reduce the time required to reclaim licenses, while increasing the number of software applications being reclaimed.
With the introduction of App Portal, it now takes software managers only 15 minutes to set up and enable reclamation for software applications. Now it automatically tracks and meters the 11 most popular software applications used by Departmental staff and adding a new application to the list takes only 15 minutes. Over 4,000 software titles have been reclaimed, saving $1.24 Million in license costs in less than a year.
App Portal now helps limit business and legal risk related to the ownership and use of desktop software and is leading to a culture shift within the Department. Instead of relying on IT professionals to acquire and install software on their workstations, users now play a proactive role in acquiring the software they need to perform their work.
- Stocked the app store with 30 certified applications valued at $2.25 million
- Reduced software delivery time from 4-8 weeks, to less than one day
- Reduced IT visits to user desktops, saving over $150,000 the first year
- Reclaimed 4,000 licenses at a value of $1.24 million in less than a year