A recent report in CIO magazine on software compliance audits found 65% of enterprises surveyed had been audited in the past year, and that 44% of them paid an average of $100,000 USD as a result. This trend isn’t surprising now that software vendors have realized that these audits can be a profitable revenue stream.
To prepare for what may soon be the inevitable audit, your company must put systems in place to manage user accounts across all services. The best of these systems enable IT administrators to quickly respond to user requests for new services and keep track of whether users are using the services they’ve been given access to.
Most license-audit software allows you to manage licenses at the individual level or across the enterprise by OEM, or create and manage suite licenses for software provided by vendors such as Microsoft® or Adobe®. They can provide an interface from which you can upgrade or downgrade licenses across sites as needed, or filter software based on location to simplify license allocation and tracking. Some software packages automatically track and reconcile installed software with the number of purchased licenses, then generate reports to help assure management that the company is in compliance.
These programs enable you to see at a glance where the software you use is over-licensed, under-licensed or licensed just right. This kind of “Goldilocks” picture of your licensing situation helps prepare you for that inevitable audit. In fact, by making sure your license contracts are always accurate and up to date, you can help reduce the chances of being audited.
If your company has an in-house legal department, inform them right away about the audit. If you don’t have an internal legal team, consider seeking outside legal advice before responding. This will help avoid exposing your company to unnecessary risk. Don’t destroy any records or delete any software. (Forensic examinations can always find evidence that you’ve done either.) Also, don’t make panic buys. Auditors look at both the number of licenses and when you purchased them.
Generally speaking, when a vendor informs you of an audit, they should explain to you the audit’s scope and time schedule, and who will be the lead auditor. Depending on the license contract, you should be allowed to adapt the schedule to meet any internal time constraints, and be able to restrict access to only that data that’s relevant to licensing. You should be able to ask the auditor for a guarantee of confidentiality, be provided with all of the vendor’s relevant licensing documentation and restrict access to any person, facility or device. Finally, you should be able to bring into the process any of your company’s employees or departments, and be accompanied or represented by external support such as licensing experts or legal teams.
A good approach to an audit is to approach it with a positive attitude and put yourself in the vendor’s shoes. In most cases, vendors simply want to make sure that the number of employees using its software matches the number of licenses you purchased. By putting in place programs that help you manage user accounts for the software your company uses, and with the right attitude, you should be well prepared if and when that software licensing audit comes along.
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