For busy IT pros, falling into the trap of purchasing and maintaining multiple applications that accomplish the same task is all too easy.
Perhaps there’s a lack of communication or grandfathered-in programs that have simply flown under the radar. While the causes may seem trivial enough, the consequences can have a significant impact on your organization’s bigger picture.
In addition to organizing and streamlining workflows, standardizing on a software solution can benefit your company’s productivity, security, and bottom line in six ways:
1. Enhanced security
When a company has a mismatched array of software products and versions, up-to-date security become nearly impossible to maintain. Among many companies, security patches are an all too common reality—for example, Adobe recently released 71 critical patches in a single month. When these security patches expire, however, users become vulnerable to remote code execution and security bypassing. End-of-Life programs pose similar threats, as support and security updates for these older software versions are discontinued.
When your organization standardizes on a solution, IT can focus solely on safeguarding the chosen software—updating versions holistically, implementing patches when necessary, and keeping a close eye on security and functionality.
2. Reduced risk of non-compliance
On the same token, it’s extremely difficult to maintain compliance with numerous solutions simultaneously. In fact, 85% of organizations are unknowingly violating license compliance policies. Many software agreements are full of complicated licensing terms and compliance criteria, so it’s not very hard to see why compliance can be tough.
The issue is that when these highly specific terms are not met, companies like Adobe hit their users with expensive, time-consuming audits that drain funds, resources, and patience. When there is only one solution to monitor, maintaining compliance becomes a much simpler, straightforward task. (Pro tip: you still want to go with companies who don’t audit!)
3. Enhanced productivity
There’s nothing productive about workflow bottlenecks, a common problem that occurs when only a limited number of employees have access to a software solution. For example, if knowledge workers need to edit a PDF but aren’t equipped with the necessary software, they must rely on a small contingent of employees who have access to document productivity tools. Not only does this disrupt workflows of both parties, it also leads to plenty of waiting.
Equipping more users with a scalable, standardized solution empowers your workforce with greater autonomy. We saw this truth in action when we partnered with manufacturing company Howden. After Howden standardized its PDF solution, the global enterprise accelerated productivity and streamlined workflows for over 6,000 employees worldwide.
4. Better collaboration
While varying programs or versions may prevent colleagues from sharing and reviewing each other’s work, standardizing on a software solution opens new opportunities for collaboration. Since every employee has the same tools and capabilities, teams can freely share, edit, and annotate documents in a format that everyone can access.
When insurance company Swiss Re standardized on Nitro for its over 9,000 users, VP of Information Technology Heinz Urech reported “a significant increase in user collaboration.” Not only can this type of synergy help teams work more efficiently, it can also bolster innovation and communication throughout your organization.
5. Reduced burden on IT
When an organization’s software solutions are all over the map, the IT department are usually the ones who become saddled with the burden of non-compliance, bug fixes, and support tickets. Standardizing on a solution allows IT teams to monitor and maintain the company’s programs and processes in a more organized, effective way. This focused approach also creates additional bandwidth to produce helpful resources and enhance user training, which can pave the way for seamless user adoption, smarter workflows, and a long-term decrease in helpdesk tickets.
6. Lower support and maintenance costs
Not only does standardization help optimize IT’s workload, it also reduces the significant price tag that comes with maintaining multiple software programs. As mentioned earlier, maintaining compliance with each application can be a difficult task—but also a pricey one. Non-compliance fees are expensive endeavors that can quickly drain savings, while single-license upgrade costs don’t provide value. Instead, lower your cost structure and make licensing affordable with software that offers volume discounts for multiple users.
Of course, the extent of your standardization success begins with choosing the best possible software. To make the most informed decision possible, consult this checklist to help you evaluate which software is the best fit for your organization.
Of these factors to consider, one of the most important is choosing software that provides excellent change management guidance. Traditionally, many companies have chosen to turn a blind eye to the benefits of standardization for fear of the hassle, time, and expenses that may accompany switching software. Yet an experienced change management team will help mitigate the strain on IT, customize your deployment strategy, and provide a training program to make user adoption easy.
This article was originally published here.