If someone from the copyright police walked into your company today and made allegations of corporate software piracy, would you be able to prove your innocence? Even if your company is totally compliant, there’s a good chance that you wouldn’t be able to find everything you need to prove it without some serious digging. This is where the Software Audit Protection Program (SAPP) by Allied Business Systems Inc. comes in. The whole purpose of SAPP is to protect you from the copyright police by making it easy to stay in compliance.

SAPP stores all your software information
The SAPP software lets you to store information on every piece of software in your organization. You can even store scanned images of receipts. SAPP does more than give you ammunition to prove your innocence: The process of entering the information gives you a chance to find compliance problems before someone else does. The coolest thing about SAPP is the price: It’s free!

Where to get SAPP
You can download SAPP in a 2.93 MB file from the Allied Business Systems’ SAPP Web site. The SAPP software comes in a self-extracting executable file. The installation process is fairly standard. You must simply acknowledge that you accept the software license agreement and tell the installation program where to install the software. When the installation process completes, you can run SAPP by using the icon that the installation program places on your desktop. There is no Start menu option.

The first time you run SAPP, it asks you for your user name and your organization. After entering this information, you’ll see an interesting warning message. Like several other shareware programs, SAPP only works for 15 days unless you register it. However, that’s no problem since the registration is free.

Filling in the Supporting Tables
After you register the product, the first thing you should do is fill in the Supporting Tables. If you look at the Supporting Tables menu from the main screen, you’ll see that there are menu options for Computers, Categories, Departments, Locations, Manufacturers, Media Types, Users, and Vendors. How well the software works for you largely depends on how thoroughly you fill in the Supporting Tables.

I recommend beginning the process by working with the Locations table. The Locations table allows you to simply enter the location of your offices and click a button to add the location to the database. You can see an example of what filling in a location involves in Figure A.

Figure A
You must initially fill in all of the Supporting Tables.

Once you’ve filled in your locations, I recommend filling in the user list. As you enter each user name, you must select the user’s location from a drop-down list containing all of the locations that you entered earlier. After entering the user list, you can continue filling in all of the other tables with pertinent information.

Entering software data
Once you’ve completed the Supporting Tables, the next step is to begin filling in your software data. Select the Update | Add To Software File command from the Software Data menu to call up the main Software List Window. This window contains several tabs that are related to the Supporting Table information that you’ve already filled in. For example, there are tabs for Software By Title, Software By User, Software By Computer ID, and Software By Manufacturer.

Since the database is initially empty, you must begin by adding some software records. You can add the software record from any of the tabs. For demonstration purposes, select the Software By Title tab and click the Add button.

You’ll then see the Add Software Record screen appear. This screen consists of several tabs, each of which asks for different types of information. The About The Software tab contains information on the software itself. This screen asks questions such as how many licenses you have and the CD key number. You can see a sample of this screen in Figure B.

Figure B
The About The Software screen asks questions about the software license.

The Purchase Information tab contains information about where the software came from, when it was purchased, and the price paid. This screen has a couple of nice extra touches, such as a pop-up calculator and the ability to send e-mail directly to the software vendor.

The User Information tab lets you fill in information about which computer the software was installed on, which persons are using the software, and the date that the software was installed and/or uninstalled from the computer. This screen also asks if the software has been registered with a manufacturer.

The Purchase Receipt Image tab allows you to associate an image file with the database. You can scan a copy of the software receipt and make it a part of the database. You can even print copies of the receipt from within the software. In addition, the Purchase Receipt Image tab contains a database record that lets you enter information about the location of the original receipt.

Finally, you can enter any additional notes about the software in the Notes tab. This might include a description of what the software does or why it was purchased.

Generating software reports
There are several different ways that you can use all this software license information after you’ve compiled it. First, you can easily search for a specific piece of information by using the Search For field on the main Software List window. This feature is useful if you want to know which machine is using a specific CD key or registration number.

If you require more detailed information, you can use the Reports section to generate software reports. You can also produce a comprehensive audit report. These types of reports are useful in a variety of situations. For example, suppose you want to upgrade Office 2000 to Office XP. You can do a Software By Title report and see exactly how many users are still using Office 2000, and thus how many Office XP licenses you need to buy. Likewise, if you want to know what software was loaded on a specific computer, you can do a report for that one computer. Finally, if you want to see how much software you’re using from a specific manufacturer, you can use the Software Listing By Manufacturer option. Once you’ve created the various reports, you can view them on screen or print them out.

SAPP keeps track of all your software and licenses, helping your organization stay in copyright compliance, as well as helping you manage your software assets.