Software Vendor Audits – Is there such a thing as a winning team?

Over the last few months we’ve seen great team work with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio. With the team spirit front of mind, I thought; could organizations create an ‘Olympic’ ITAM team?

If you’re involved in the SAM process, no matter your role, it’s a sure thing that during your tenure you’ll be faced with a software vendor audit of your estate. In fact, according to Gartner your organization has a 68% chance of receiving an audit request in the next 12 months!

Now, classifying a software audit can be up for debate, and could be a post in its own right, but for this conversation I will also include the following:

  • Software Review
  • License Assessment
  • Self- Assessment
  • License Baseline

It seems that with the majority of the leading vendors now having independent audit teams, minds have been stimulated, which has led to different names being applied to what logically can only be described as an audit.  Software vendors include a ‘right to audit’ clause in their terms of use, which makes total sense – why shouldn’t they protect their intellectual property? – but we can’t tarnish all vendors with the same brush. It’s unfair to state categorically that they all operate their audit processes in the same way, or with the same objectives. What is guaranteed, however, is that the process, regardless of what the subject title states on the letter serving notice, will include;

  • Defining the scope and process timescales
  • Outlining acceptable data sets will be acceptable
  • Calculating the software utilization
  • Uncovering areas of ambiguity
  • Clarifying that any licensing shortfalls will have financial implications

This got me thinking: based on my audit experiences over the years, is there a team of colleagues you would want on your side during an audit? Is there a definitive number, and are there key positions you need to ensure are involved to obtain success?

Before we start looking at selecting our audit team, we need to cover the variables that can be applied.

The top three software vendor audit game-changers

Firstly, each organization will have their own take on what they classify as a successful audit. Some will define success depending on the financial outcome, while others will see a minimal impact on business operations as a win. Others will find that the ability to utilize the audit in securing strategic software in a future proof agreement would be the successful outcome. All very different goals, but all able to shape the audit process.

Secondly, the industry or sector in which your organization resides may result in having specific regulations (e.g. Financial institutions or Governments). The size of the organization, its available resources, and its current ITAM maturity level also must be considered when looking to build the right team.

Thirdly, which software vendor has requested the engagement and the defined scope.

Whether it’s global, specific sites, selected business entities, or certain products, they will all impact the team selection. The level of complexity involved should automatically require a more refined team – for example, a specific product request versus an all-encompassing global audit. Based on these variables, and with my experience of working with large enterprise customers, I believe the ‘Olympic Team’ should include the following members. In this day and age, with advanced communication links, this may well be a virtual team, but it’s important that the key stakeholders within the audit process are defined and roles and responsibilities are set to ensure an efficient working group.


Playing to your ITAM team’s strengths

This is my recommendation for the type of team I would put in place. Please note, this will differ due to the key variables mentioned earlier. It’s worth keeping in mind that the value of implementing the right audit team for your organization is threefold; you maximize the available expertise to benefit the organization and meet your success criteria. The intensive nature and investment required to complete any audit can be shared and the impact on business as usual (BAU) operations can be reduced.

Running an audit independently can lead to mistakes, having a team to collect, qualify and verify information prior to releasing to the software vendor is paramount to a successful outcome and bringing a gold medal home.

As with any team, there is always a natural leader, or someone who takes ownership of the team’s direction. Within the sphere of a software audit this has to be the SAM Resource(s), it is they who should connect the virtual team and be responsible for:

  • Managing relationship and process with the software vendor
  • Delegating the correct activities to the correct team members
  • Ensuring SAM expertise is applied to all data sets
  • Setting expectations of current SAM policies and processes
  • Controlling the data released to the software vendor
  • Acting as central point

If your organization doesn’t already have its winning team in place, this may provoke the implementation of such a process and help you be prepared for Tokyo 2020 (or your next vendor audit). The content of this blog provides you with a strong starting point and showcases the benefits of being part of a team.

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Ben Eagling

Ben Eagling

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