Monday, 9 February 2015

Vendor Audits – Compliance or Revenue?

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.