Reclamation! Reclamation! Reclamation!

Do you know how many licenses are not actively being used for an application? Do you find the license consumption counts appear to be increasing, resulting in higher and potentially unbudgeted costs? Within this article I will address some of the issues around reclaiming licenses, and tips on how to help.

Software licensing represents a significant investment for companies, on average 30% of an IT budget is represented by software licensing. As with any investment, you want to ensure these are properly managed and utilized. Part of this is the management of software licenses and the reclaiming of unused licenses where possible.

The reclamation process can be difficult for any organisation across all industries; however this is an integral part of the software lifecycle and can help reduce overall IT spend. To accomplish this requires that you are able to discover software installations, asses the software usage and then reclaim those licenses. This does however come with certain challenges for Software Asset Managers which include:

  • Identifying and assessing application usage
  • Verifying if a standard/alternative license can be used
  • Removing the application from devices
  • General reluctance from employees to give up access

I will be covering some of these challenges and discuss options on how you can achieve the goal of reclamation and the savings this could lead to.


One third of all Enterprise software goes unused

  • 430 billion annually in the US alone
  • Or about $259 per desktop
  • Most unused applications include Microsoft and Adobe


Identifying and assessing usage data

The first step within the reclamation process involves the discovery of software installations, understanding license allocations and assessing the application usage data.

Software Asset Management tools such as Flexera, ServiceNow and SCCM can be used to capture this information, as well as some third-party portals like Microsoft Azure which show usage. It is also important to keep in mind that many software vendors provide both a desktop application and an online version of their product. This may mean that some installation reports may show no usage if that user is using the online version.

Once you have your usage data for the application this can then be assessed to determine if the license could potentially be reclaimed back to a pool or for allocation to another user. Many organisations have internal guidelines around the criteria for reclaiming licenses, however a good start is to check if the user allocated a license does not have the application installed or has not used it within the last 90 days.

Verifying editions or alternative license types

Another option to investigate when reclaiming licenses is to determine whether the ‘standard’ edition of an application can be used instead of the more expensive ‘advanced’, ‘professional’ or ‘enterprise’ editions. Many licenses come with more basic levels of the software which only offer a select range of features but come at a lower cost.

Along the same lines there could be alternative software available. These could be products included within another agreement or ones already in use within your organisation that offer the same functionality at a lower cost. That said, vendor consolidation is an area that organisations should explore further as consolidating of applications that perform the same or similar functionality will lead to reduced internal IT support costs as well as the requirement for ongoing software maintenance costs for the vendor that is being rationalised.

To determine end user requirements and whether a user is utilizing all of the features of the ‘higher’ edition of a product or whether an alternative application would be more suitable, a questionnaire to determine whether certain actions are being performed could be used.

Removing Applications

Now that you know what applications are being used and which licenses can potentially be reclaimed, it may be time to remove the application from the users device. There are many ways this can be done, either via an automated software reclamation approach or manually uninstalling. It is essential though to ensure the application is fully uninstalled from the device. The initial installation reports can also be used to check this.

You may also get some reluctance from the users or cost centre owner at this point to give up the application, so it could be a good idea to email them as a heads-up or to receive final confirmation before removal.

In conclusion, as challenging as reclaiming software licenses may be; There are ways to alleviate the stress and use of tools to aid in the process.

Performing license reclamation on your applications is a vital part of your renewal process and helps in reducing your license costs. Whether this is done multiple times per year or a few months before renewal, it will provide you a better picture of the usage, and help with reducing the quantity needed or at the very least removing the need to purchase additional licenses.

I hope this has been helpful and would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below with any thoughts or tips that you have seen on your reclamation journey or contact