Tip 2: Get Executive Support for a Top License Compliance Program
Maverick: Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby.
Air Boss Johnson: Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.
In the cinematographic – take your breath away – masterpiece that is the first scene at the Top Gun program at Miramar, Maverick, fresh off a controversial victory over Jester and against the better advice of Goose, prepares to “buzz the tower.” He radios Air Boss Johnson, “Tower, this is Ghost Rider requesting a flyby,” to that end. “Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full,” Air Boss Johnson responds, and coolly pours himself a cup of hot coffee.
Maverick does it anyhow. The tower shakes furiously. Coffee spills everywhere. Air Boss Johnson flips out, calls for “some butts” and storms out of Viper’s office only to run into a yeoman carrying more hot coffees that subsequently spill all over Johnson’s shirt, again. The whole scene has Viper threatening to expel Maverick if he continues to subvert authority.
Had Maverick perhaps better made his case, and gained Air Boss Johnson’s support (“Sure guys, let me put this coffee down first”) prior to the tower incident that cemented that chip on his shoulder, perhaps the whole story would have unfolded differently (Goose lives, Maverick doesn’t ever leave Top Gun, maybe Iceman even wins the volleyball match).
Similarly, gaining the support of the Air Boss Johnsons in your company is the single most important thing you can do to build a successful software compliance program. It ensures that a program isn’t only initiated, but maintained and institutionalized.
Feel the Need for C-Level Buy-In
Top down support sends a clear message to the rest of the organization that software compliance is a key revenue generation channel, and an important initiative to protect IP. Without executive support, you risk falling into the danger zone of performing one-off engagements that don’t yield a sustainable, long-term source of revenue. That’s because a number factors will likely derail those quick-wins well before the company can ever realize the benefits of a formalized compliance initiative.
For starters, top-down support ensures alignment between departments, and guards against departmental wars over resources and strategies, all of which damage customer relationships. For example, shocking as it may seem, perhaps the field sales organization or the reseller doesn’t think it should take marching orders from the compliance or legal team, and therefore, doesn’t value the importance of a unified approach to revenue generation. Focused on boosting his own quarter, the sales rep cuts a deal with the customer behind the backs of the compliance organization, which almost always results in a lower margin than a coordinated effort.
We’ve also seen cases where the development team used its own departmental budget to fund advanced software protection pilot projects without consulting the sales or compliance teams to understand the potential negative consequences of locking down customer software use.
Meeting the interests of all sides involved is something only the C-level has the clout to ensure. C-level support also ensures that customer relationships remain strong during the introduction of something that could be viewed as contentious. It reinforces the provider’s desire to develop a compliance process that is fair to the interests of both sides, according to a 2013 KMPG survey.
How Do I Make the C-Level My Wingman?
Some tips on gaining executive support:
- Start with data: Start with pilot projects, with the aim of gathering data necessary to prove the value of a larger program. Choose license compliance solutions with robust reporting and analytic capabilities, in order to present data in the clearest, most consumable, and actionable way to upper management.
- Focus on existing customers: The benefits of compliance for customers extend beyond risk management, to lower TCO and higher innovation levels. Working with existing customers, a low-risk group, is a win-win, providing them with a value-add service, while gathering the metrics needed to demonstrate the value of compliance to c-levels.
- Get sales on board: While the compliance initiative often starts with the product team, the most successful software vendors hand over responsibility for maintaining the program to the sales team – who already have the right skill set to find legitimate revenue recovery opportunities while maintaining good relationships. A 2013 KPMG survey showed that sales or sales operations lead the compliance program in more than half of the surveyed companies, demonstrating a “desire to align the sales program with compliance.”
So by all means, go Mach 2 with your hair on fire with your software compliance initiative – just make sure it isn’t a fly-by night endeavor by enlisting the support of your top guns first.
Summer – the perfect time to sit by the pool, soak in the sun and of course, contemplate your company’s software piracy problems. As you consider just how much you are losing to piracy, we thought we’d lend some lessons from another industry that is by no means immune to it – the movies. That standard of truth Entertainment Weekly recently ranked the 30 biggest summer blockbusters of all time. We’ve found that in each, some of the most memorable quotes and characters lend advice that can be applied to building strong compliance programs. Each week during this summer, we’ll share one of EW’s picks, and our take on how that particular classic lends lessons on designing a revenue recovery strategy that will break all box office records.