Audit: It’s a word that strikes fear into the hearts of, well, everyone. Personal audits are bad enough: Many enterprise IT professionals shudder at the mere thought of Microsoft, Adobe, or another large vendor sending a request to review licensing compliance.

Unfortunately it’s a reality for most everyone working in enterprise tech: Around 61 percent of businesses have received requests for audits in the past 18 months. If you’ve faced one you know how challenging (and expensive) they can be.

SEE: Site And System Audit Form (Tech Pro Research)

A report from enterprise tech data company BDNA has just come out, and it tells a bleak tale of billions in lost dollars from what, according to the report, could be easily avoided.

Auditing: It’s a major industry

For a lot of vendors auditing is a considerable source of revenue. With only 17 percent of enterprises using asset management to track software licensing it’s also an easy source of revenue that those vendors don’t need to spend much on.

It can be difficult to properly track licensing, and when an audit request comes in many businesses are left scrambling to collect data and run reports. That means pulling people from essential projects, causing lost time and productivity all in the name of avoiding fines, making audits expensive in more ways than one.

How to minimize the impact of an audit

The report comes to a fairly obvious conclusion: Be proactive in managing licenses to avoid audits and make any that happen go smoothly.

One tech executive (who asked to remain anonymous) says most audit requests will end at the initial stage if a business can simply provide an up-to-date automated record of its license usage. The key, he says, is appearing lean, automated, and current.

SEE: Beware of Microsoft sales representatives posing as auditors to sell Office 365 (TechRepublic)

Along with recommendations from BDNA there’s also a six-step audit navigation guide from Gartner included in the report, and it has excellent tips.

  1. Make sure audit processes are transparent and efficient. The goal is to get back to business as usual as soon as possible.
  2. Immediately highlight issues that need to be addressed. This improves audit handling maturity and makes an organization look good.
  3. Don’t neglect security and confidentiality during an audit. Gartner says a lot of businesses focus on controlling the audit activity and not what data is actually being shared unnecessarily.
  4. Use software asset management (SAM) tools to prepare for and automate the audit process. It is much easier to just hit “run report” than it is to chase down workstations that might have a program installed.
  5. Validate compliance status of your software: without it you can’t use SAM effectively.
  6. Make sure you look into multiple SAM platforms before deciding on which is right for you. Whichever you choose should have robust audit reporting included.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. A report from BDNA shows that 61 percent of businesses have faced licensing audits in the past 18 months. 17 percent of those have faced as many as three audits in the same time period.
  2. Audits are worth money to vendors: Businesses usually end up paying when a major audit is performed.
  3. You can minimize your audit impact by using SAM tools to manage licenses and by being proactive in providing reports to vendors.

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