Software License Audit Services

When it comes to software license audits, don’t go it alone. It’s a decision that could save you millions.

Software license audits are on the rise. These unbudgeted events are scary, disruptive and a drain on resources. Vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Micro Focus and Quest (the list goes on) are using software license audits to generate billions of dollars in revenue each year as well as push customers from legacy on-premise solutions to newer cloud offerings. Did you know that some of these vendors have dedicated audit teams that carry a revenue quota?

Multi-million dollar penalty claims are the norm, and that doesn’t include the soft costs. To minimize risk, here are two best practices:

  1. Best Practice #1
    Proactively perform internal license position assessments on your biggest software estates.
  2. Best Practice #2
    If you get an audit notice, bring in a licensing expert to help you control the process and optimize the outcome.

NPI can help on both counts. Our team performs internal license position assessments for clients and, when the audit shoe drops, we help clients skillfully navigate software license audits.

NPI’s Software License Audit Services

NPI helps you minimize your software license audit risk and penalty exposure – on your terms and at any stage of the audit lifecycle. The three ways we typically engage with clients are:

Proactive License Position Assessment

When you want to conduct a “self-audit” for specific software estates to identify over and under usage, define a remediation plan for right-sizing, and establish a true baseline to feed into requirements for your next renewal.

Audit Management and Defense: From Day 1

When you’ve just received an audit notification and want to be sure you manage the entire process optimally from Day 1.

Audit Defense: Mid Stream

When you’re already going toe-to-toe with your vendor’s auditing team, and suddenly realize you need help.

License Position Assessment

Think of it as preventative maintenance. Proactive self-auditing of your largest software estates is a risk management best practice, and NPI delivers support well before your next renewal or true-up, allowing you plenty of time for decision-making and implementation.

What Do We Do?

  • Using your tools and NPI’s recommended 3rd party tools, gather accurate deployment data
  • Analyze agreements and purchase history to catalog entitlements
  • Reconcile titles for asset management
  • Compare deployments to entitlements and report gaps (over-and-under-utilization)
  • Define remediation options
  • Establish remediation plan
  • Identify potential gaps in asset management

What Are The Benefits?

  • Identifies unintentional installs that can be easily corrected
  • Identifies compliance issues to be addressed
  • Provides remediation options to consider, and their pros/cons
  • Allows time for environment optimization in support of remediation strategy
  • Identifies over-licensing for correction/leverage at next renewal
  • If a purchase is required for compliance, typically get higher discounts than purchases under pressure from vendor audit
  • Provides accurate usage baseline for upcoming purchases and renewals
  • Identifies SAM deficiencies
  • If audited subsequently, you are well-prepared; and often the documented license position causes the audit to be cancelled

Audit Management and Defense from Day 1

Once a software license audit has been initiated, our vendor-specific license and audit management experts will guide you through every step of the process. NPI helps you control the cadence, avoid self-incrimination, establish an independent license position, validate the vendor’s data accuracy, identify vendor misinterpretations and negotiate the optimal outcome. We work with you to minimize and mitigate penalties and reduce future audit risk.

What Do We Do?

  • Screen data and reports for appropriateness
  • Advise on communication to vendor
  • Assess vendor’s audit findings for accuracy
  • Provide defense against faulty findings
  • Prepare license position for comparison to vendor’s findings
  • If a purchase is necessary, provide price benchmark analysis and negotiation intel to achieve optimal outcome

What Are The Benefits?

  • Influences audit cadence
  • Minimizes self-incrimination
  • Ensures report submissions from client to vendor are limited to those that are within audit scope and contractually required
  • Identifies misinterpretations, misrepresentations, double-counting of data
  • Identifies invalid assumptions and conclusions
  • Produces reduced settlement amount
  • Explains complex licensing concepts and audit management strategy to stakeholders

Audit Defense – Midstream

Vendors’ audit findings are usually inaccurate – let NPI find the errors. Sometimes, clients choose to go it alone until the findings of a software license audit are dropped on their desks along with an invoice for penalties and fees. NPI can work with you to validate and challenge the accuracy of audit findings, defend your position and negotiate an optimal settlement.

What Do We Do?

  • Assess vendor’s audit findings for accuracy
  • Provide defense against faulty findings
  • If a purchase is necessary, provide price benchmark analysis and negotiation intel to achieve optimal outcome

What Are The Benefits?

  • Identifies misinterpretations, misrepresentations, double-counting of data
  • Identifies invalid assumptions and conclusions
  • Produces reduced settlement amount
  • Explains complex licensing concepts and audit management strategy to stakeholders

What NPI Brings to the Table

  • Unmatched software license audit experience to guide you through the audit process
  • Coaching on deployment data collection, and curation of reports before they are provided to the vendor (customers usually provide more information than they are contractually obligated to!)
  • Deep subject matter expertise regarding vendor-specific licensing programs and product usage rights that are the foundation of compliance disputes
  • Remediation decision support – we help your stakeholders understand the options, and their pros and cons
  • Advice on how to handle vendor communications, including ghost writing and play-by-play communication strategy
  • Recommended negotiation strategy and tactics to minimize settlement fees and penalties
  • If you do end up with a bona fide compliance issue that requires a license purchase, NPI can provide benchmark analysis and negotiation intel that helps you get the best deal

Real-World Results:

  • Microsoft's auditors reported $10 million in non-compliance under a SAM Engagement. The client went back and forth for six months and couldn't get anywhere. After engaging NPI, the audit was settled at $700K.

  • A SQL infrastructure audit resulted in a claim of $14 million from Microsoft. End result with NPI assistance was $5 million.

  • The client engaged NPI to perform a Self-Audit Project. When Microsoft subsequently initiated an audit, the client handed them the self-audit license position document and the audit was cancelled.

Interested in software license audit defense? Let’s talk.