How to Comply with a Microsoft Software Licensing Audit

Micro Visions AuditImagine seeing the FedEx delivery man dropping off an envelope to your place of business. The receptionist brings over the envelope and you get more excited.

Until you open the envelope, that is, and see who it’s from; Inside you find the dreaded Microsoft Audit Letter.

You may have received one of 3 types of licensing audits Microsoft uses to ensure compliance:

  • Microsoft Licensing General Partners Self-Audit Requests
  • Software Asset Management (SAM) Engagement
  • Legal Contract Compliance (LCC) Audit

Thousands of small and mid-sized businesses are receiving these audits as part of Microsoft’s aggressive growth goals, and their attempt to grow their market share. Not only will Microsoft get companies to become compliant with the software licenses they’re using, but the audits will typically result in additional license sales. They see this as a win-win situation for them.

What Do These Audits Mean?

Most businesses will receive the Microsoft “Self-Audit Request.” This letter typically starts out something like this:

Dear <<CUST_FNAME>>,

In accordance with the Verifying Compliance clause of the Agreement, Microsoft respectfully requests that <<COMPANY NAME>> conduct an internal audit of all Microsoft products in use throughout your organization, comparing the number of products in use to the number of effective licensing the Company is entitled to use through purchases made in <<COMPANY_NAME>>’s name with Microsoft.

Receiving such a letter can cause a panic, especially if your’e not compliant. You begin to run through the scenarios of what could happen:

I’m going to have to face my boss with the truth that I haven’t done a good job in managing our Microsoft licenses. Will I be fired for this oversight? Could I be put in handcuffs and hauled off to jail?

Before too many of these thoughts run through your head, realize they’re most likely not going to happen. Especially being hauled off to jail. But this doesn’t mean you can ignore the letter. You need to respond and provide the information Microsoft has requested.

How to Complete the Audit

Executing a Microsoft audit can be difficult and is always time consuming. To complete the audit, you will need to record what Microsoft products your company is using, how many licenses you have purchased, and whether or not you’re in compliance with your Microsoft licenses. Microsoft does provide a Planning Toolkit that can help with the process.

If you’re in compliance, you return the information and a letter stating that you’ve completed the self-audit and you’re in compliance. Good job! You have maintained excellent records and have proven yourself an expert in SAM!

On the other hand, if you are out of compliance, things become a bit more complicated. You need to complete the letter but state you were out of compliance. Then you need to provide proof to Microsoft that you’ve purchased the correct number of Microsoft licenses to restore compliance. This can be an overwhelming task for a systems administrator, but considering the importance of the activity, one that must be completed timely and with the utmost accuracy.

Are You Ready For An Audit?

Understanding Microsoft’s complex licensing regulations and maintaining thorough records is crucial preparation for the possibility of an impending audit. If you don’t have someone on your team  capable of producing reliable SAM reports, consider hiring an expert. If you are currently facing an audit and need some assistance, give us a call at 616.776.0400. Our technicians will help you determine what, if anything, is needed to bring you into compliance and ensure that you have the necessary support to keep you there.

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