Understanding Shelfware Licenses With OpenLM


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What are ‘shelfware licenses’ and how do they inflate your annual IT budget? Find out all the answers with OpenLM.

Are you spending more on your
software licenses? Well, the question might look out of the blue to you. However, market giants like Gartner admit that almost every organizations or businesses spend more than what is actually required on their software licenses. This additional expenditure on licenses might shoot up to 25% of an organization’s annual IT budget.

Yes, almost every organization spends more on its annual software purchases. And if you go deeper, you would find ‘Shelfware Licenses’ as the main wrongdoer here. Yes, that’s true! Shelfware licenses are the primary reasons to inflate the annual IT budgets insanely. 

You may now ask: ‘what are shelfware licenses?’. In this blog post, we will discuss shelfware licenses and how OpenLM can help you to get rid of all your shelved licenses and optimize your software licensing costs.

What are ‘Shelfware Licenses’?

Shelfware licenses are those software licenses that you have purchased but haven’t used them. These licenses can also be explained as those that are seldom put to any use or goes completely ignored by the buyers.

Organizations or businesses purchase software licenses in bulk quantities. This may include multiple licenses of the same or different types. In these stacks of software licenses, there are some licenses that either go ignored or are not given much attention. Organizations have already paid for them, but are not using them at all. Thus, they always inflate the annual IT budget without contributing anything to the organization.

Reasons Your Organization Can Have Shelfware Licenses

Though there could be ‘n’ number of reasons for the accumulation of shelfware licenses, here are some reasons that you must not ignore:

  1. While purchasing software licenses, organizations tend to buy some standalone licenses for certain functions. And since they are aimed at only a few (or specific operations), they mostly get ignored or overlooked by other software.
  2. There is other software that comes with a limited lifetime. These software licenses also get ignored once they are put into action. Later, though they are not actively used by the buyers, they are still considered as active and inflate the IT budget.
  3. At other times, the stakeholders also lose interest due to the demeaning performances of the software. Hence they either don’t wish to spend more time or energy on them. Eventually, they get shelved aside while raising the cost.
  4. At times, while purchasing software licenses in bulk, license vendors offer great discounts and additional benefits. Organizations too fall for these discounts or benefits and end up purchasing software licenses that they may not require. This usually happens in most enterprise-level software deals.
    As a result of such purchases, different types of software licenses get shelved while the cost keeps on shooting up. This undoubtedly accounts for the wastage of the annual IT budget.
  5. Software audits also contribute much to the rise of shelfware licenses. This happens most of the time an organization goes through software audits as the auditors might point out some inaccurate gaps while reviewing your software environment.
    They may come up with additional requirements for software in order to maintain better software compliance. However, in reality, these additional sets of software only inflate the IT cost while boosting the number of shelfware licenses.
  6. The discrepancy in tracking software licenses is yet another major cause of the rising shelfware licenses. Most of the time, an organization continues purchasing software licenses based on its past purchases. For example, if they have purchased 100 Microsoft licenses in the past, chances are there that they would continue purchasing the same without proper evaluation.
    Organizations usually ignore the fact that some of the purchased licenses can be harvested and used more efficiently. And this mostly happens due to the lack of Software License Management (SLM) tools. Having an effective SLM tool can help organizations to optimize their purchased licenses and use them more aptly.

How Can Shelfware Licenses Hit Your Organization?

There are multiple ways that shelfware licenses can bring a downfall to your organization. Let’s discuss some of the most striking affects of shelfware licenses below:

  • Security Breaches:

Licenses gradually get shelved as they are either outdated or have already become obsolete. Once they get shelved, they make the organizations prone to cyber-attacks. Most of the hackers try to find out forgotten or idle software in the server and breach the security measures through them. 

In such a scenario, having shelfware licenses can attract cyber attackers and hackers largely. 


  • Production Loss:

Today’s shelfware licenses were (probably) once desired bundles of software. However, with time, they might have got replaced by other software. In such cases, these shelfware licenses can bring down the overall productivity of the different teams. And this could happen due to the fact that the teams are using other specific software sets. 

Using other software extensively also keeps that software engaged for operations that could have been easily achieved by the shelved licenses. Hence, having more shelfware licenses can bring down the overall production of the organization.


  • Huge Financial Losses:

Shelfware licenses consume around 25% of any organization’s annual IT budget (as mentioned earlier). Thus, the more your organization have these type of software licenses, more would be the financial losses.

Paying for software licenses that are hardly or rarely put into use could become fatal for the organization in the long run.

Hire OpenLM Services to Eliminate Shelfware Licenses

OpenLM can help your organization in eliminating all your shelfware licenses. OpenLM’s software license management (SLM) tool is a real-time tool to identify shelfware licenses and eliminate them from your software inventory.

OpenLM helps you optimize all your software licenses, harvest software licenses to utilize all your software licenses as much as possible, and save millions of dollars for your organization. Here are some of the OpenLM Case Studies that showcase how OpenLM has been saving millions for organizations from almost all business verticals and industries.

Get in touch with OpenLM experts to know more about how to optimize software licenses and boost ROIs every year.

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