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Image: Does Software Asset Management (SAM) Really Help the Software Audit Dilemma?

The last thing any organization wants to hear during a software audit is that they not only owe money for licenses that they have been unknowingly pirating, but to pay what is known as “true-up” costs.  “True-up” costs are the penalty costs associated for the unauthorized use of software often imposed by software vendors, and have been known to impact companies with fines in the millions.

Software audits, in general, are on the rise with little to no indication that they will be slowing down soon. According to our BDNA survey, 61 percent of companies surveyed said they experienced at least one software audit in the last 18 months, which was close to analyst findings of 68 percent. And while 85 percent of those BDNA respondents said they had an IT Asset Management (ITAM) practice in their organization, the challenge was that only 17 percent have ITAM tools in place to actually manage compliance. ITAM includes both hardware and software asset management.

Many times software audits are conducted in a manner in which the software vendor has tools already embedded in their system to provide an account of software license usage. The vendor often provides this count as part of the audit process for their customer. The challenge is that if a company has no software asset management program in place, the reliance of the data reflecting software license usage remains in the hands of the vendor.

Software asset management can enable companies to take a proactive stance with a defensible audit position. By having a program in place, companies can eliminate the reliance on software vendors for software license usage by having their own account of their software usage and licenses.

Software asset management enables vigilance in your software vendor audit negotiations and can help to minimize overspending on unused software licenses. A recent InfoWorld article stated that more than a quarter (28 percent) of software deployed in an enterprise is unused or rarely used, and accounts for almost $7 billion of unused software worldwide.

Some companies may react quickly to software audits by running out to purchase complex software licensing optimization tools. What they quickly learn is that implementing such a tool includes harnessing a large budget to approve across multiple organizations and a complex implementation process. However, the key to keep in mind is that visibility of your software assets is really what is needed to enable a defensible position. Implement a software asset management tool that is cost-effective and easy to deploy.