Software is a pretty big expense for companies, and the Microsoft® Office suite is one package that most businesses cannot live without. While some postpone the decision on when to purchase required licenses or do not understand the complexities of licensing they might find themselves out of compliance, Microsoft® is cracking down on under licensed businesses of all types and sizes – which can mean serious financial penalties for companies.
Recent research shows that, over the past two years, 67 percent of businesses that have been audited were audited by Microsoft – well behind Adobe’s software audits, at 42 percent of audited businesses. It doesn’t mean that companies are willfully skirting Microsoft licensing requirements;on the contrary, some just are so busy preparing desktops for employees that they let licensing slip through the cracks.
But that is a costly mistake. The research also revealed that the average licensing shortfall after an audit resulted in companies paying an average of over $300,000 to make things right with Microsoft. There is a serious financial risk for companies who are not paying attention to their licensing.
Even if companies think their Microsoft licensing is up to date, Microsoft can turn up with some surprises. There are ways to reduce the risk, which requires a significant investment of time and resources. It includes:
- Thoroughly inventorying existing software on every machine
- Continuously updating these inventories, particularly as new machines are deployed
- Recording and tracking licenses purchased
While free tools exist that can help with compliance issues, most companies end up in a panic and purchase more licenses than they need, regardless of the results generated by the tools. This is also a waste of resources, and in a time when IT departments are squeezed on both ends to make do with limited staffing and budget, conducting an internal audit prior to a visit from Microsoft may not be feasible.
What this means is that, for most companies, it makes sense to hire a third-party consulting firm to inventory and manage Microsoft licensing. That frees up internal staff to focus on day-to-day issues, as well as strategic projects. Third-party consulting companies like Emerset Consulting Group also have years of experience ensuring that its clients stay on the right side of Microsoft and avoid unpleasant surprises during audits. That experience translates into negotiations that reduce costs, a welcome touch in a rough economy.
If your company is worried about a Microsoft licensing audit (and if you’re using Microsoft products at all, you should be), contact Emerset today to learn more about how we can keep you in compliance.