Are You Prepared for a Microsoft Licensing Audit?

It would seem as if Microsoft is stepping up their license auditing of small to medium businesses. This has left many companies scrambling to find old license numbers and long forgotten records. This procedure can be extremely time consuming and potentially costly.

As much as I would like this article to be the magic key that allows you to avoid any chance of an MS audit, that’s just not possible. And while audits are never fun and often drive up the stock of aspirin, there are a few things that your company can do to be more prepared.

License Types
It’s important to know the different types of licenses you may hold. For instance, much of your software may carry an OEM license.  These licenses are attached to the hardware the software came installed on. For instance, an Office program may be licensed to a certain batch of computers bought from Dell. These licenses cannot be transferred to a new batch of computers from HP. Your technology provider should be able to help you sort through the different types you have.

Keep Records
The most practical and useful practice your company can engage in is precise record keeping before an audit begins.  Having a master spreadsheet or database for all this information is highly recommended. Make sure any new licenses are recorded. This practice also gives the additional benefit of being able to dig through records at your own pace, without the stress of doing so during an audit.

Stay Calm
Panicking never helped anything, and a license audit, while a pain, isn’t the end of the world. These audits take time and a lot of back and forth communication. You still have a business to think about.  There are obligations to be met, and clients to serve. And always remember, your technology provider can help you identify which licenses you need and round up the actual license information.

Know who you are dealing with
Many, if not most, of the audits being done are through SAM (Software Assessment Management) partners. They act as a third party to audit for compliance. These sort of audits are completely voluntary but refusal to engage may very well lead to a more legal and mandatory audit. Often they have tools to help with the process. They are also known for trying to sell different software solutions to fill in gaps they see. Make sure that whatever they offer is truly needed. They may also offer a new license agreement, referred to as a “true up”.  Any purchase suggestions should be evaluated before agreement.

It’s hard to say if Microsoft will continue this push in audits or not, but preparation and good record keeping are the key to avoiding major headaches or unnecessary payouts. If you do get caught off guard with an audit request, just remember to stay calm and focus on what’s important, your business. 

If you need assistance with a Microsoft Audit, contact the network engineers at DWD.  We're here to help!