Vendor audits strike fear into customers’ hearts

software asset management

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A new survey has revealed that software asset management (SAM) and IT managers are most afraid of being Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

Thirty-three per cent of organisations said they feared being audited by SAP, while 36 per cent had been engaged in audit activity by the vendor over the last 12 months, the survey by Snow Software found.

“While we expected to see Microsoft reported as having the highest volume of audit activity, it is surprising to see them take the number one slot in terms of being featured by their customers. In our experience, Microsoft is actually one of the least aggressive and difficult software auditors. We typically hear far more horror stories from customers that have been audited by Oracle or Attachmate (now Micro Focus),” said Matt Fisher, vice president, Snow Software.

When asked the reasons for such fear over audits, 29 per cent of customers said they were concerned the audit would result in additional true-up fees or fines, 19 per cent they were worried they would have to explain unbudgeted costs to business management, and 19 per cent were concerned over the disruption to normal business operations.

“The year-end audit has long been a stalwart of Q4 revenue for many software vendors, whether performed as an outright audit or disguised as an incentive to upgrade to the latest versions and technologies. These situations can actually work to customers’ advantage if they are holding the right information about their current software use and plans for the coming year,” Fisher said.

Snow’s SAM experts recommend four steps for customers to prepare and strengthen their position before an audit review:

  1. Acknowledge the audit request as soon as possible, as a prompt response within a few days of receiving the audit letter will smooth the process.
  2. Discover as much as possible about the vendor conducting the audit, to ensure you know what’s required well in advance.
  3. Conduct a self-audit, by performing a full inventory to discover all assets including hardware configuration, software deployments and usage.
  4. Compare the inventory against license entitlements and create effective license positions for all software vendors.

“Our advice is that, if you have your software assets under control, there’s actually little to be afraid of during the audit process. A fear of audit suggests that organizations recognise a lack of control and up-to-date SAM intelligence,” Fisher said.

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