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Software License Management: 6 Steps to Prepare for an Audit

Software License Management Audit Tips
Issuing software licenses to employees is another one of those routine IT tasks that you may not think twice about. But what may go unnoticed is software titles employees install, the number of licenses you actually have, and licenses being shared. Software companies like Microsoft, Adobe, SAP, and Salesforce regularly conduct audits on companies of all sizes, and interestingly enough it’s more common than you may think. A recent IBSMA survey revealed small companies are experiencing more software audits than ever, an increase of almost 40 percent since 2015. With this in mind, here are 6 simple ways to stay prepared with a few software license management best practices.

  1. Implement IT asset management to audit where you stand
  2. The best way to prepare for a software license audit is by actually having an IT asset management solution in place to add visibility to what’s going on within your organization’s technology infrastructure. If you’re not aware of how many licenses you currently have available (and who has one), the process of manually determining how many you may need in the future can get messy.

  3. Detect unauthorized software to remove
  4. While there are numerous benefits of asset management and discovery, one of them is the ability to view any unauthorized software titles on your network. Various software publishers police unauthorized use of software, which can pose a major problem for organizations. It’s not uncommon for the Business Software Alliance (BSA) to impose fines in excess of $100,000 per infraction on behalf of companies like Microsoft or Adobe if unauthorized software is found.

  5. Know how many licenses you have available
  6. Even if you do not have any illegally installed software floating around, you still need to know how many licenses you have in use across the many products and subscriptions your team likely uses. With a software license management solution, you can quickly collect and analyze all the software licenses in use across your organization. If a software license compliance gap is detected, you’ll have visibility into how many licenses are missing and can take action to resolve it – either through license reallocation or by purchasing new licenses.

  7. Be proactive with vendor contracts
  8. Staying up-to-date with your vendor contracts is another safeguard for ensuring you are proactive with what your renewal needs are. Even if you are on auto-renewal, it’s a good idea to have a policy in place to review where your current subscription stands and where your needs may change. Another benefit of software license management software is the ability to view unused licenses in order to make better forecasting decisions once you have a better understanding of your existing asset needs. Similarly, if you are planning to add members to your team and notice a potential shortage of licenses, you can avoid license sharing by increasing your subscription level ahead of time.

  9. Keep good records of your data and subscriptions
  10. Odds are that your organization will be the subject of an audit at some point, which is why it’s best to have a plan in place ahead of time to help make the entire process a little less stressful. Having easy access to asset reporting is a good first step, as well as any documentation you need. It’s also a good idea to back up your data, including any vendor contracts you have on file that document your current subscription level, for example.

  11. Seek legal counsel before handing over information
  12. If you do receive a letter or notice regarding a software audit, an important first step is to run everything by your company’s legal team before taking any action. While it is important to be cooperative, you don’t necessarily want to just hand over information without understanding what the auditing firm is asking for, and if your documentation is sufficient. Deleting software and attempting a cover-up is also not as harmless as you may think. Alex Wolf, an associate at law firm Smyser, Kaplan & Veslka had this to say to Information Week:
    Forensic examinations can find evidence of deleted software, so you're potentially putting yourself in a hole because something that could have been easily resolved now looks like you're covering up misdeeds.”

What you can do

IT asset management is often the first step to being as prepared as you can be if and when you are presented with an audit letter or request. All of your renewal deadlines, subscriptions, and other important technology asset information is stored in a single, easily accessible location. Learn more about how a more powerful IT service and asset management solution with software license management capabilities can help you stay on top of your organization’s technology landscape. Start your free 30-day trial or let us give you a customized demo of SolarWinds Service Desk. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available here are for general informational purposes only. Making the Business Case for IT Asset Management
Jason Yeary
Jason Yeary is a technical expert for SolarWinds Service Desk customers and a former service desk manager in the healthcare industry. He is ITIL 4…
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