If you have ever been involved in any aspect of enterprise licensing for your company, you may have faced the uncomfortable reality of the Microsoft Audit. Not only can the Microsoft Audit process seem extremely invasive, it also requires a huge amount of your resources’ time and energy. The fact of the matter is, Microsoft Audits are on the rise. They are a huge revenue generating tool for software vendors. They are less about compliance and more about driving licensing sales. Software companies are getting creative, sometimes referring to the process as a friendly Software Asset Management (SAM) engagement. Don’t be fooled, the truth is – an audit is an audit, no matter what you call it.
The amount of data required for a Microsoft Audit – in order to determine the licenses that you own, what products you have deployed; and how many licenses you actually require – can be overwhelming. Companies that are facing an audit can often be paralyzed by the convolution and massive volume of data presented.
As a business, you need to be proactive in managing the audit experience. Here are my top 10 tips and observations to help you successfully navigate the muddy waters of the Microsoft Audit process.
Top 10 Tips on How to Handle the Audit:
- Don’t go dark on the auditor.
- Data is the key – get and know your facts
- You can negotiate what data will be shared in advance of the audit.
- Sign a NDA with the auditor stating that no data will be shared with the software vendor without your explicit and written permission.
- Be prepared to invest the time necessary to analyze the vast quantities of data and build valid proof of your claims
- Whether it’s your own SAM team (or a hired expert), the audit process is going to be time and resource consuming for your team.
- Understand your License Position
- The Estimated License Position (ELP) takes all of the deployment data (inventory counts) and provides a view of the number of each product and version deployed then compares that against the number of licenses you own.
- Prepare your positions to explain your deployment data
- You need to know the numbers better than they do.
- Do not allow external sources to make assumptions based on their limited knowledge of your software deployments and usage.
- Negotiate with the auditors prior to information being handed off to Microsoft.
- Ensure the ELP truly represents your environment prior to signing off to be released to Microsoft.
- Prepare a negotiation plan to respond to unreasonable requests.
- You need to be confident in how your numbers are represented in your ELP, or they will win.
- Anticipate their reactions to your data and know your escalation paths
- Do not be afraid to escalate when and where it makes sense
- This is business, it’s not personal
- Don’t let them play the “us versus them” game.
- Microsoft License Specialist or SAM Teams vs Account Team
- Finger pointing back and forth to avoid giving you a concession
- The best path to success is to level the playing field by engaging an outside expert like Method180.
- Method 180 has the experience, know-how and proven ability to speak the language of the vendor to represent your interest in the best, most effective way possible.
- Ensure you do not overpay millions of dollars just to settle.
- Free up your time and resources. Let the Method 180 team of experts guide you to manage the audit process to achieve the best results, for you!
There you have it, 10 solid tips on how to manage the Microsoft Audit Process and win! Without a doubt, being audited is not fun. It’s serious business with huge money at stake. Our licensing experts would be happy to have a free consultation to see how we can help you.
Method 180 is an independent consulting firm that specializes in negotiating software licensing contracts, audits and SAM engagements. Method 180 has helped clients save more than 100 million dollars over the last year alone.