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November 17, 2016

Preparing for a Software Audit - What Does it Really Entail?

By Special Guest
Cathy Won, Director of Product Marketing at BDNA

The top goal of ITAM practitioners today, according to the IAITAM Practitioner Survey for 2016, is improving software license compliance. In a recent BDNA survey of information technology (IT) professionals, more than 61 percent of companies experienced a software audit within an 18 month period, with 17 percent of these companies subjected to a software audit more than three times within that same 18 month period.

A significant amount of time and effort – not to mention money – is expended on audits.

Software license management can be a complex target to achieve without the proper systems and tools. It’s become even more complex when incorporating how the software is deployed—especially with Internet of Things (IoT), SaaS (News - Alert) and other cloud-based products and how that software license affects other licenses in the IT environment.

What would happen, for example, if a software license was out of date, the software subsequently stopped people from logging on and that software was connected to a crucial business function, say a customer portal in the cloud? Chaos. And quite possibly, angry customers.

Are You Asking Yourself the Right Questions?

You can start to make sense of it all by asking the right questions:

  • WHAT: What type of software in my IT environment has the most potential to cause compliance concerns or cost the company for being out of compliance? Does the compliance expose business vulnerabilities or security concerns?
  • WHO: Are we underutilizing licenses and not optimizing our costs as a company?
  • WHEN: When do I need to update my enterprise agreement or when does the license expire? Will I need to pay any additional penalties for utilizing licenses that have expired?

Choose the Software Asset Management Tool That’s Best for You

Software asset management can enable companies to take a proactive stance with a defensible audit position. By having a program in place, companies can eliminate the reliance on software vendors for software license usage by having their own account of their software usage and licenses.

Some companies may react quickly to software audits by running out to purchase complex software licensing optimization tools. What they quickly learn is that implementing such a tool includes harnessing a large budget to approve across multiple organizations and a complex implementation process. However, the key to keep in mind is that visibility of your software assets is really what is needed to enable a defensible position. Implement a software asset management tool that is cost-effective and easy to deploy.

Important Elements to Consider

One of the most important elements to consider for audits is finding a flexible tool or system that is capable of providing relevant and key information about your software assets. The tool should provide automated capabilities to provide a view of assets for any given point and time.

With daily changes, a manual process of collecting asset data is usually obsolete before the process is complete. Even worse, the task is not only usually monumental, it is also filled with inaccurate data, irrelevant data, duplicated data and a data resolution process that is almost futile without an authoritative standard to leverage and follow.

Important elements to consider:

  • Consider using a comprehensive asset management tool for both your software and hardware
  • Ensure time to value is a part of your assessment to ensure there is no unwarranted complexity in the system or tool
  • Confirm the system contains an authoritative standard of IT asset data to leverage
  • Utilize a system that can easily import and export asset data for utilization beyond asset management
  • Ensure the system has other market data to leverage, such as support lifecycle dates, contact information, etc. to aid in the overall management of software licenses

Eliminating vendor audits is an achievable goal if organizations can do the initial groundwork to create a proactive position from which they can confidently respond to an audit notice, as opposed to a reactionary stance that automatically puts them on their heels. Luckily, achieving this position does not have to increase complexity; oftentimes the greatest ROI can be achieved by creating accurate visibility and knowledge of your entire asset inventory – essentially, an actionable, automated accounting of the entire IT estate.

Discover Ways to Save

Cost-control efforts are always a priority for most IT organizations. Data and application needs continue to grow, while budgets remain flat. Some analysts predict that by 2018, up to 60 percent of software currently priced by user metrics will be moved to alternative pricing schemes, triggering higher software costs. New subscription-based software pricing and traditional software license models introduce added complications by forcing companies to manage a hybrid model of software assets.

Pain from unnecessary spending and unexpected surprises uncovered in a software audit highlight inaccurate assumptions about asset data. The last thing any organization wants to hear during a software audit is that it owes money for licenses that they have been unknowingly pirating.

The most crucial step in preparing for a software audit is visibility. This enables better negotiation power with your software suppliers by just knowing what you have and what is being utilized, ultimately saving your organization costly audit fees and wasted staff manpower.

Start Your Inventory Today

Demonstrating ITAM maturity or having the knowledge of your asset inventory can help deflect the vendor audit process entirely, or at least make things easier on your IT department when the time comes. Taking inventory of existing hardware and software assets and matching that up with what you’ve purchased is key to visibility into your enterprise IT infrastructure, ultimately enabling better negotiation power with vendors.

Set your IT department up for success during your next software audit by asking yourself the right questions, implementing SAM and configuration management solutions that are right for your enterprise, and looking for ways to cuts costs from unnecessary spending.

About the Author

Cathy Won is director of product marketing at BDNA. Cathy has extensive product marketing and product management experience, including positions at NetApp, Juniper Networks, EMC, VERITAS, Legato and Brocade (News - Alert).

Edited by Alicia Young

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