target audience: TECH BUYER  Publication date: Mar 2024 - Document type: IDC Perspective - Doc  Document number: # US51833924

Tackling Tool Sprawl


  • Karen D. Schwartz Loading
  • Mark Leary Loading
  • Mickey North Rizza Loading
  • Katie Norton Loading
  • Snow Tempest Loading


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This IDC Perspective discusses tool sprawl, which happens when businesses accumulate software over time without keeping track of what is in use, how it is being used, who is using it, and whether it is still a good fit for the business. For example, it can happen when users go outside the traditional lines to purchase something they like or continue using a tool the company no longer prefers. Over time, this can cause unnecessary acquisition, training, troubleshooting, maintenance, and integration costs. Integration issues can lead to security problems. Data silos and the risk of non-compliance are other potential problems.

Addressing the problem starts with identifying all tools that exist in the environment using automated tools like those in the software asset management (SAM) category. Next, companies should rationalize their investments by understanding gaps and overlaps and then decide whether to retire, replace, rebuild, or retain. In addition, to keep software in check, organizations should centralize, publicize, and enforce policies for requesting new tools and tool use.

"Tool sprawl can result in many challenges to an organization. There are policies, processes, and software systems that companies must put in place to keep tool sprawl to a minimum," says Karen D. Schwartz, adjunct research advisor, IT Executive Programs (IEP) at IDC.


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