How to Survive a Microsoft Audit
Avoiding unforeseen liabilities is an ongoing reality for most businesses, and one of the biggest expenses can come from the licensing problems associated with Microsoft software. The management of such high-value software can be a difficult problem, exasperated by ever evolving licensing agreements with greater levels of complexity and lack of best practices for software license management.
In medium to large companies, the risk of fees associated with failed audits is compounded due to the sheer number of software license contracts they must manage. With an average of 70 software license contracts, determining compliance can become almost ambiguous until an actual audit is performed. A failed audit can lead to company embarrassment and fees that can negatively impact company profitability.
Internal Management Is Costly; Outsource SAM to a Partner
Microsoft is reported to have an especially aggressive audit strategy, from informal audits through audit partners and workshops, to more formal, official on site audits. These expensive ordeals are highly likely for medium and large sized companies, with over 60 percent of executives reporting some sort of Microsoft audit associated activity occurring in the last 12 months. Preparing for an audit begins with understanding the terms of your software license agreements.
Until recent years, internal SAM management systems haven’t aligned with the cost-conscience business models most companies utilize, encouraging the tendency for reliance on poor data. This leads to costly miscalculations and mistakes, but is also where Software asset management systems come into play. These services handle the complex issues presented by high value enterprise applications. The best methods for asset management include maintaining continuing compliance utilizing SAM services, keeping a roster of active software licenses (using VLSC or others) and ensuring constant preparation for any potential upcoming audit.
Centralizing license operations can give managers access to all agreements for tracking and maintenance. Automating licensing operations also ensures software availability and easy reassignment or bill-back. One best practice is to analyze usage reports, in order to make sure usage data is as accurate and complete as possible and adopt the right management tools. Effective management of software assets is almost impossible without effective tools and software.
Preparing for a company-wide SAM audit can be as simple as meeting with a Microsoft Certified Partner, and setting up an free consultation. With the right plan and tools, maintaining compliance can be largely automated and easily managed to prevent future worries.