Software self-audits are a necessary - some might say evil - component of a good Software Asset Management program. As a reminder, a necessary evil is an evil that must be allowed for a greater good to result. Let’s focus on that greater good for a minute.

Performing periodic self-audits provides the following three key benefits:

1 – You will be well positioned for the even uglier vendor audit.

This point should convince you if nothing else does. Being prepared means your SAM team knows where the software is used, how it’s deployed, what’s been purchased, what the license terms are, who the primary stakeholders are, and of course – that you are compliant. You won’t even break a sweat when that publisher’s audit notice hits your inbox!

2 – Your SAM team will have a good handle on your license position at any given time.

They know where to find the latest information, quickly update it and answer these all too familiar and pesky questions:

  • Do we have extra licenses of XYZ? Why, yes, we do, so you won’t need to spend a dime! Or, no we don’t, so you’ll need to think about purchasing….
  • Are we even using ABC software? As a matter of fact, we’re not. We should see if we can substitute it for other requests for this type of software. NOTE: This is an excellent opportunity to ensure a return on your investment – and to eliminate unnecessary spend!
  • Should we renew these licenses? Maybe, but we’re only using 60% of the licenses we’ve purchased – we should investigate, reduce the renewal quantity if needed, and renegotiate.
  • Are we using the software according to the license terms and conditions? No, we need to do this and this and maybe even this as soon as possible in order to be compliant!

I’m sure you get the idea. Of course, your SAM manager is not waiting to be asked these questions. They should be alerting you to these situations as the audits are completed; by generating reports which identify risks and provides recommendations on a regular basis.

3 – You can gauge the success of your SAM program.

The audit results provide a way to track cost savings opportunities and cost avoidance, as well as exposing compliance risks – and really, isn’t that what you want your SAM team to do?

If the above deficiencies continue to show up, it’s probably time to re-evaluate the program (or start a new ITAM Communications Campaign!) – because if the same situations keep coming up (under deployed/over deployed, etc.), then something isn’t working right. This is considered a good thing – an opportunity to improve and show value at the same time.

So, what’s the bad, you might ask.  Well, it takes time and resources to put a good self-audit plan in place and make it work. For instance, it can take one SAM manager anywhere from four to twelve weeks to complete an internal audit. This can vary because it depends on the quantity and complexity of software licenses, and it relies on the discovery data, access to license agreements, and accurate purchase records. Additionally, all stakeholders need to be engaged and accountable. Basically, it’s a lot of work!

Another bad: SAM tools are expensive. And even though they can ease the pain of self-audits and help automate, a manual, experienced touch is still necessary.

And now for the ugly - a very simple, yet painful example of how not to be prepared:

I knew a SAM manager of a program in its infancy when a major publisher came with an audit notice. The first question she asked – do we have the required tool in place, per the license requirements of our agreement? The answer was no. ☹ It took almost four months to get the tool up and running. Additionally, there was chaos due to stakeholders with different ideas on how to approach the data collection (i.e., working from entitlements instead of what was actually deployed). Unfortunately, a lot of tail chasing and wasted time ensued.  All this ill-preparedness and eventually huge fines could have been averted if the software had been part of a scheduled self-audit plan (with a set process in place).

It comes down to – do you want to invest in your SAM program to realize the benefits that self-audits provide? Whether it’s hiring more team members, investing in a SAM tool or software consultant, starting a project, or all the above, there needs to be C-level support to get it done right and to fund the effort. Are you ready to take those steps?