The best way to handle software audits is to be ahead of the game: be prepared and it will make the process as smooth as possible. Even if you do not get audited, it is a good business practice to have.
- Work with a Microsoft (or any other software) value-added reseller that knows and understands licensing rules. They can assist in purchasing the correct licensing for your needs.
- Use the least amount of vendors as possible. If you are audited, you might need to call on those vendors to get invoices and receipts. If you have worked with an array of vendors, and don’t have correct documentation, it may be hard to track them all down and get the information you need.
- Keep detailed records of all invoices, purchases, receipts, vendor information etc. Make sure you know what software was included and what licensing was included.
- Educate yourself on the license agreements and entitlements. Often times these are difficult to understand, which is a huge source of disparity for business. Take the time to understand and interpret the licenses and this will save you hassle in the long run.
- Take inventory on what software is being used on what devices. You can even find that you’re not using a machine that has the software installed, and can transfer it over to another device and user. This could save you money as well, but doing this sort of internal audit helps you prepare for an additional audit.
The biggest complaint from businesses that are audited, is the amount of time that they take. From initial audit request to achieving compliance, audits can take 3-4 months, even longer depending on the size of the organization. When you’re running around trying to find invoices, contacting vendors, coming up with numbers etc, you are losing productivity and for some organizations, that is an even bigger hit than the licensing or non-compliance fees. If you are prepared for an audit though, you are going to reduce the productivity and monetary loss.
What if we are non-compliant?
If the software company finds you non-compliant, or finds that there are disparities in the software running on the network, and the number of licenses, there are two ways they can handle it. If the disparities are small enough, they will give you a time-frame in which you have to become compliant. They will give you a list of steps you need to take and you’ll have to make some licensing purchases to get back into compliance. If the audit was egregious enough, the software company can slap you with a fine plus you will still need to take the necessary steps to become compliant. We have seen fines into the “Millions” for disparities in software and licensing.
Moral of the story? You want to make sure you are in compliance with all your software when, not if, you are audited. The results of an audit could have a devastating impact on your business if you are not prepared.