Software license compliance—get your organization in order before an audit!

Knock, knock. Who’s there? The software company, we just want to make sure you have licenses for all the software you are using.” Does the thought of this scenario make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end? If you were faced with this situation tomorrow, would you panic or would you be prepared?



Let’s take this opportunity to discuss compliance management, the fourth and final major process related to Software Asset Management (SAM). In my last blog, I wrote about the internal policies and guidelines. They play a vital role with compliance management, and I want us to remember them as well.


The compliance management process reconciles the licenses owned against actual software consumption to determine the compliance status and plan for further action. This is where all the gathered data from discovery and license management is made actionable. Inventory data is converted into license liability, reflecting the vendor’s licensing model and the delta between computed and owned licenses is reported.



cube.pngWith this compliance report, software asset managers can determine whether purchased and used licenses are adequate to meet the current and future needs of the organization. If the compliance management process finds that the company has installed more software than is licensed, then some of the software needs to be de-installed or they may need to purchase additional licenses. But I warn you, take a minute and slow down before you spend more money. Before your organization purchases any additional licenses, you will have to make sure that you did not miss the number of licenses still residing on retired machines in your calculations. That could be a very costly mistake.


Counting licenses, “Did you look under every rock and every retired asset?”


I discussed this phenomenon in the blog” Inventory Management: get a complete picture of your enterprise”. In “Navigate Software Asset Management for your organization’s benefits I discussed the importance of actually applying your internal policies.  The compliance management process can be seen as a sort of internal audit—you want to make sure you know what you have before you buy more.

Therefore before purchasing additional licenses make sure you review the master license agreements and appendixes to understand the owed payments and the schedule.


Some vendors require the purchase of additional licenses when the “true-up” is due, for example, at the end of a calendar or fiscal year. Others may require that any license shortfall is covered immediately with the purchase of maintenance for the past period in which unlicensed software was used. I recommend reading my blog, “May I see your license (for asset management) please?if you have any further questions.


Practicing proper compliance management can save you a lot of money and troubles. With a proper understanding you know your compliance status before a vendor starts their audits. This way  you have time to resolve compliance exceptions and you can be confident that you provided the vendors with all the necessary inventory and license information to satisfy the audit. 


A better way to maintain compliance


With such complex process, it is inevitable that an automated tool has been developed to assist with the process. HP SAM solution, not only automates compliance management and generates the compliance reports, it can automatically trigger a remediation action: purchase additional licenses or uninstall some of the software. This solution also calculates the costs of becoming compliant when new licenses are purchased. HP SAM software also automatically applies software entitlements to software upgrades and downgrades for licenses under maintenance—all to influence the compliance status.


The only proactive method of ensuring the compliance is maintained is by conducting regular (at least once a year) internal reviews and audits using automated compliance tools. Many of our customers are producing compliance reports for their major vendors weekly, because it is now so easy, and comparing the results against previous reports. Proactive software license compliance helps you fully understand your current license position and reduce risk for failed audits.  It also empowers your organization to renew or negotiate contracts from a point of knowledge. You now know what you have purchased, what you use and what you in fact need.


What is your experience with software license compliance? If you had a vendor’s audit tomorrow, are you confident you could provide the required information to satisfy them? Feel free to share your experience in the comments section below.

For more information about HP Software Asset Management please visit our homepage here.


Vesna Soraic


Angel Marcial | ‎08-07-2013 11:11 AM

Is there a trial version of the HP Asset Manager Software?

VesnaS | ‎08-26-2013 03:22 AM



yes there is a trial version of HP AM. Please contact me at and tell me your region.


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About the Author
Vesna is the senior product marketing manager at HP Software. She has been with HP for 13 years in R&D, product management and product marke...

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