Anyone who has experienced an official software vendor audit knows it can be daunting process – vendors are adept at timing when to send that letter, often on a lucrative 3-year cycle or when business changes like mergers and acquisitions have increased the risks of not being fully in control. Furthermore, if you know you’re not in full control and haven’t got a firm handle on what software is out there, how it’s being used and where you are with your Effective License Position (ELP), then you can pretty much guarantee there’s going to be a costly compliance issue somewhere – probably as well as unidentified over-spending on software the business doesn’t actually need. The (often literally) million-dollar question is… by how much?
How to respond to an audit letter
The ideal scenario is obviously to already be in control, with a robust SAM solution and either an in-house or outsourced skilled SAM team. This team should provide the required evidence of control that would satisfy the vendor that software is deployed and accessed correctly and in full accordance with license entitlement. The inevitable audit risk is proactively avoided and it’s likely these organizations are also actively optimizing software spend and cutting software spend by an average of 30% (Gartner).
For those perhaps not in control and very much on vendor’s radars – one of the 65% of organizations that Gartner research shows can expect at least one Software Vendor Audit each year, then the next best tactic when that audit letter lands is to invest in a rapid audit-defense strategy with a trusted Software Asset Management Partner – someone who will be able to inform you on how best to navigate the process and maximize your ability to respond to the vendor.
This is what Certero do; a trusted SAM partner that can help you to solve any IT Hardware or Software challenge through any combination of direct ITAM /SAM technology and SAM services, both proactively or with a rapid and extremely effective SAM Audit Defense Service when required.
Identifying a trusted SAM partner
What’s important when it comes to trust and expectations, is understanding exactly what the roles and relationships are with the software vendors, the vendor’s commercial reseller channels, the officially appointed auditors and who you choose to be your trusted SAM Partner.
Especially when being audited, independence and dedicated SAM proficiency are key attributes to look out for in a trusted SAM partner. For example, ask yourself these questions:
Does the SAM Partner have any vested interests to sell you licenses that may be required to atone for any none-compliance?
Is the SAM Partner a specialist in license Optimisation or simply identifying licensing requirements for commercial purposes?
Do they have the latest technology to really delve into the detail required to identify your software accurately or are they just running scripts?
Do they really have the skills – and the desire – to go to the nth degree to interpret data and rules in your best interest?
Do they offer transparency and sovereignty over your own data? Can you see what’s occurring?
The alarming truth is that the results of an exercise to identify an Effective License Position (ELP) for a single vendor can vary considerably according to who conducts the process. Vendor licensing rules and scenarios can be down to interpretation and there are often wildly varying degrees of accuracy from the outputs of different SAM / inventory solutions. Assumptions and false-positives are common, the underlying data used to calculate the position is often not available to be scrutinized and verified, and ultimately the audit processes can be a crucial revenue-generating exercise for the software vendor. So, who can you trust? Who works for you and who works for the vendor?
So How Does Software Audit Defense Work?
Interestingly, an independent Software Audit Defense service can be extremely beneficial, even after the officially-appointed auditor has produced their report. SAM and vendor audits are just a case of providing the vendor with evidence that you’re using their software appropriately – this is all the vendor wants and the inherent complexity of software licensing can lead to many challenging scenarios – difficult to identify, difficult to control correctly and difficult to report upon accurately. Therefore, navigating the software vendor audit process does not need to be adversarial, but with a trusted SAM partner in your corner who has both a deep knowledge of the vendors’ licensing rules AND the most accurate ITAM / SAM technology at their disposal, then you have more powerful means at your disposal than even the software vendor to really identify your best-case licensing position and be able to prove it.
Here’s an example of how Certero as a trusted independent SAM partner, helped a customer through a rapid Audit Defense Service. The process validated the Microsoft auditor’s findings and identified a number of significant errors that if left unchecked, would have cost the business over $140k to rectify. Certero’s evidence reduced this cost to $0.
This User Case explains what errors were made by the official auditor – some seemingly due to accepting ‘bad data’ from inadequate inventory tools and others could only be due to human error and a lack of due diligence when going back through the customer’s entitlement history – failing to recognize old upgrade rights that would ultimately mean that the customer was actually over-licensed for certain products listed as non-compliant.
One highlighted ‘exposure’, equating to $40,000, was for a SQL product that the customer did not even have installed… fortunately this was accurately identified and corrected by the more thorough Certero Audit Defense: Read the User Case Here.
Certero Audit Defense: At a Glance
Certero’s Audit Defense is particularly powerful because Certero are uniquely a true independent ‘one-stop-shop’ for any software licensing challenge, no matter what, no matter where:
- Technology-led Services: Certero have the technology in the form of the most advanced ITAM & SAM platform on the market, covering all IT assets and software vendors from mobile to mainframe to SaaS & Cloud. This removes any ambiguity or guess work and ensures the completeness of coverage and that the ultimate level of detail is retrieved.
- In-House SAM Team: Including dedicated specialists for Microsoft, Oracle, IBM & SAP, Certero don’t need to rely on partnerships – we have the skills. So, the success of the project is simply down to one trusted partner with Certero.
- Independence: Certero have absolutely no commercial interests to sell you any licenses or share information with any 3rd parties; it’s just not part of our business model.
- Rapid time to value: Certero have some of the fastest solution deployment times of any SAM vendor, so the solution can be deployed extremely quickly and the in-house SAM team can get straight to work analyzing your data to achieve meaningful results.
- Experts in Your Corner – As the user case shows, even the mega-vendors’ auditors can get it wrong and it’s never too late to bring Certero in to get your own view – particularly if facing a hefty exposure.
- Trusted SAM Partner, Driven by Results – Gartner peer insights reviews show that Certero has some of the happiest customers in SAM with an average rating of 4.8 out of 5.
- Enterprise-Level Scope – Certero can cover everything from mobile to mainframe to SaaS & cloud, globally.
- Longevity: Establishing an ELP is a valuable exercise – so why throw it away? By using the Certero platform to generate the compliance and potential optimization reports, you always have the option of investing in the solution or a strategic SAM Managed Service, sustaining the value of the audit defense and transitioning to an ideal state of sustained visibility and control.
To find out more about Certero’s tactical Audit Defense services, contact Certero today.