"With Softcorner, you can be sure that the licenses offered are valid and of high quality. "
Director of software sourcing for the SNCF group since 2017, Philippe Berquin previously held a more operational position as regional director of the TER. It was therefore with a completely different perspective that he approached his new responsibilities and, more specifically, relations with software publishers. The second-hand market offered him a legal and secure alternative to "classic" licences.
What is your approach to software sourcing?
My first challenge is to manage compliance and software usage with regard to acquired rights. With my team, we also have to manage contracts over time. I am very surprised by the software ecosystem. In my previous job, I was used to managing large volumes of purchases, up to 100 million euros per year, and to conducting constructive negotiations with suppliers. But the relationship with publishers is very different and much more focused on maximizing profits. This led me and my team (of about 10 people) to rethink how we could save money.
What is the current state of your software assets?
We did a mapping of our software assets and realized that we had been buying licenses under commercial pressure that we didn't need. Either some applications were useless, or they contained features we didn't need. In other cases, the vendor had not warned us that the solution included paid options that were beyond our budget.
What options did you consider then?
We conducted an internal audit of our needs. As a result, we terminated a certain number of contracts, signed contracts with new European publishers and above all found alternative solutions such as open source. At the same time, I became interested in this second market that I did not know. We then set about studying the legal issues in detail to ensure that the purchase of second-hand licences was legal and to avoid any challenges from the publishers. At the same time, we needed to acquire a few hundred Microsoft Project and Visio licenses. It was a great opportunity to test the used license market. And this first test carried out in 2018 has fully satisfied us.
Why did you choose to work with Softcorner?
My team had already been in contact with Softcorner. So we did some market research, and compared their pricing and product availability with their competitors. They were better positioned. They were also very reassuring about the quality of the licenses, and were very responsive. And we are delighted to be working with a French company.
Since this first test, have used licenses found their place in your processes?
Absolutely. In 2019, in the context of a renewal of office automation licenses imposed by the editor's road map at a prohibitive rate, we decided to look for an alternative source of supply for several tens of thousands of licenses. We therefore, despite the risk of friction that this could cause with the publisher, launched a European call for tenders... won by Softcorner.
So Softcorner's platform is a new purchasing medium?
Not only that. We also sell our surplus licenses through this system, especially database licenses. Here too, we have been able to appreciate Softcorner's professionalism in ensuring the validity of the licenses offered.
What return on investment have you seen?
The first benefit is financial. We have been able to save over 50 % by purchasing second hand. However, monitoring compliance is more complicated because these licenses create a new software sub-park within the same pool of software usually managed by the official vendor. But I've been sharing my doubts about the "classic" licensing model for years. As a result, the second-hand solution has been very well received.
"Software maintenance costs are getting higher and higher every year, while the level of service offered is not changing. My role is also to raise awareness internally among the various stakeholders. "
What recommendations would you make to your peers?
My first advice is not to hesitate to go... but not with just any company. It is necessary to be very careful with what you buy, and to take the time to have all the guarantees from the broker and the seller. Also check, if you wish, that you will be able to apply the maintenance over time. With Softcorner, you are assured of the quality of the software sources.
What are the next steps?
One of the main interests of these marketplaces is to still offer licenses on premise while the perpetual license is being phased out. But the fear is that the subscription model will lead to blocking in the years to come. Subscriptions are passed on to the named user and therefore not available for resale. Within the SNCF group, we regularly have "eligible" projects on occasion. We are therefore keeping a close eye on this second market depending on our occasional needs and our planned purchases in 2021.
The 3 key points
- The price: buying second-hand not only allows you to buy at the best price but also to reduce the extra costs linked to the evolution of road maps editors...
- A legal and secure alternative to reduce the share of the main editors in the company's software park.
- The availability of products that are no longer maintained by the publisher but that you need.
- First test conducted on the purchase of 500 Microsoft Visio and Project licences.
- European tender carried out on a software scope of several tens of thousands of licences.
- Approximately 50 % of savings achieved.