We are constantly asked how to prevent an audit from Microsoft. We wish we could have this really profound, interesting answer, but we don’t. There is no magic trick or piece of software that prevents an audit. The only two things you can do are (1) be prepared and (2) manage the audit as soon as you are notified.
A sound software asset management (SAM) program which should be created by trained and qualified teams from IT, Procurement, and Internal Audit. These team members should have an expertise in the particular software vendor. And a process for ensuring proper software licensing needs to be introduced into your System Development Lifecycle. All of this will help ensure that the appropriate communications exists in your organization and you will be in your best position against an audit.
Unfortunately, we find time and time again that there is not an identifiable individual or team that is responsible for SAM. Way, way too often a disconnect exists that isolates entitlements from the deployments and nowhere along the line is someone challenging whether a defensible license position is being maintained. Software licensing and support are very, very expensive line items. Perhaps not nearly as expensive as Human Resource-related expenses but not terribly far away either!
So many organizations ask “Where do we begin?” We recommend getting outside help to develop and implement your program, even if just to kick start the program. The main reason is expertise in a specific software vendor. If an investment just isn’t in the cards, performing regular periodic health checks can be a far more modest investment that will help limit both your exposure and any resulting surprises.