Ten years ago vendor audits were few and far between, focus being
mainly on the large enterprise customers with huge IT teams, purchasing
departments and compliancy procedures; but things are changing…
Whether it’s the clever license tracking, online
registrations or just lower revenues that are pushing vendors in this
direction, it’s definitely here to stay and the vendors are making hay!!
Microsoft, Oracle, IBM and SAP are just a few of the many
vendors out there making it a totally new, targeted revenue stream within their
organisations. Large compliance teams are emerging within these organisations
to push hard on compliance/revenue.
Markets are either becoming saturated or stagnant for these
companies so focus is moving fast;
Damien Dalton – SAM Audit consultant at Systems Assurance
Ltd
“Customers coming to
Systems (Assurance) for help with their audits have tripled in the last 6
months. And vendors aren’t playing nice like they used to, compromise isn’t an
option any more. A customer recently approached me to help with their
negotiations with a certain vendor; they had been mis-advised by their existing
IT dealer and the vendor was demanding they buy all their software licenses again.Work
with a SAM partner or at least a dealer with advanced knowledge of licensing
before you make any large purchases of software.”
Tough times…so what can we do, how can Systems Assurance
help?
We’re not here to police your software estate and report
short falls back to vendors to gain a quick buck. Our consultants work with
your business, educate your team and implement very light touch approaches to
your organisation that make a real difference come audit day.
Some key benefits to workings with Systems Assurance Ltd:
§  Vendor
Compliancy
§  Identify
License Imbalance
§  Better
understanding of licensing models
§  Utilise
benefits and reduce licensing costs
§  Lower
IT Support Costs
§  Improve
tracking procedures
Give your account manager a call to discuss how we approach
vendors on your behalf, how we educate your team and how we make this whole
awkward part of your job easy again.

The Software Asset Management Process

Unlike computer hardware that you can touch and feel,
software is by nature ephemeral and more difficult to track. By utilizing a
process-driven software asset management program to analyse what you own and
how you’re using it, you lighten your load at the time of an audit by being in
command of the information your software vendor will demand. You also stand to
trim your costs by recovering and reallocating underutilized licenses, buying
only what you need when you need it, and making more lucrative agreements with
your software vendor.
The foundation of SAM is entitlement management. This is the
practice of assigning the right to use a managed software title, and it creates
the administrative policy that you can then reconcile discovered installs
against. With this core practice in place, SAM discipline then offers the
validation you need to protect yourself at the time of an audit and to
effectively plan for the future by:
 1) ensuring the
consistent capture of data over time,
2) providing a history of changes over time, and 3)
demonstrating control at any given time of your software asset entitlements.
The benefit of having SAM in place is that it significantly
changes the way your organization views and manages its software assets. With
SAM, requests for software installations go through a request-and-approval
process that takes into account the role of the requester and the available
entitlements to ensure proper administrative tracking and oversight. When
supplemented with a standardized catalogue of approved titles, SAM practices
build the structure and context for active software resource tracking,
maintenance, and planning. This disciplined, process-driven approach enables
cost management and chargeback. It also helps internal consumers understand the
budget impacts of requesting and installing software.
Implementing
SAM Components
An ideal SAM program includes several key components. To
function effectively over time, each component requires an organization-wide
commitment to ongoing procedures. The following best practices for developing a
fully functional SAM discipline not only take the pain out of software audits,
they empower you to make smarter software purchases and negotiate
cost-effective agreements.
Develop
an integrated structured asset repository
Start your SAM discipline by collecting key information
about your software, such as entitlements, license agreements, contract terms,
proof of purchase, departmental allocations, and warranties. To keep this
information continually current, organize it in a structured asset repository
that contains a software catalogue of owned and available software titles and
licenses. A consistent update process will result in an up-to-date catalogue
that quickly answers auditor queries. By integrating the repository with other
SAM components, you can deduce chargebacks, potential upgrade paths, and the
number of licenses still available for assignment.
Discover
where and how you are using your software
Whether you want to renegotiate a software vendor license
agreement or reassign unused or underused software, you first need to discover
how and where you are using your software. By combining internal processes for
tracking software with an automated SAM discovery engine, you will be able to
locate your software, analyse usage, and reconcile that information against
entitlements, which you have stored in the structured asset repository. A
company-wide discovery discipline serves your organization far beyond the audit
by providing the necessary information to drive entitlement policies, recovery
processes and purchasing.
Control
when software enters and leaves your organization
Until you take control of software entering and leaving your
organization, you remain exposed at the time of an audit. By centralizing the
management of software installation requests and fulfilment, you gain the
control mechanisms you need for tracking when authorized software leaves your
environment or unauthorized software enters it. Centralized management proves
that
you have a discipline in place for specifically and
consistently assigning software rights. Automated request handling and
fulfilment engines interfaced with an asset repository not only allow you to
satisfy auditors by ensuring compliant software use among employees, they
enable internal audits, which yield information you can use to negotiate better
deals with software providers.
Support
SAM with reporting and analytics
Use the SAM disciplines you put in place in your
organization to generate reports that prove your company’s software usage
patterns. A company that can track usage patterns over time enters a software
audit with strong defences. By using automated reporting tools that integrate
with the structured data repository and the engines for software discovery,
request handling, and fulfilment, organizations can support a wide range of
decision-making, from evaluating and revising internal policies to providing
leverage during purchase and contract negotiations.
Conclusion:
Survive Audits, Contain Costs and Drive Efficiency
Industry analysts expect software audits to increase as
vendors continue to collect on revenue losses from unlicensed software.10 In
addition to government copyright laws that permit extreme penalties, an audit
burdens your staff, disrupts productivity, and jeopardizes your organization’s
reputation. With so much at stake, it makes good business sense to prepare for
an audit with a SAM program.

At the time of a software audit, a SAM program helps you
avoid increased license fees and penalties and keeps your employees engaged in
your key initiatives rather than burdened by an auditor’s requests for
documentation. Adhering to a SAM discipline beyond the audit provides the
structure and analysis a company needs to forecast purchases and negotiate
better license agreements from a position of strength and knowledge.