We all love stories. All of us. We love to hear about good overcoming evil – the prince saving the princess, the bad guy that's captured by the good guy. In short, what we love are fairy tales. The reality is we do not live in a world of fairy tales and sometimes, yeah, the bad guys do win. The prince, admired by many, is not such a good prince after all. We trust without knowing they can be trusted. So, what does this have to do with audits?
Businesses are built based on one concept – to solve a customer's problem. You are their hero to save whatever pain they have or problem they can't seem to overcome. You, are (as the story goes) their knight in shining armour. Your customer needs someone to deliver a solution, you are just the good guy to do it.
Fast forward a couple years, your business is booming, your customers are happy, and in walks every IT nightmare…the auditor. Eye glasses the size of saucers, a necktie tied just a shade too short, and a laugh that is about as annoying as a nail on a chalkboard; you are succumbed to a software audit.
How do you defend such evil? The biggest mistake a hosting partner (or enterprise's in general) often makes is being fearful. They give the auditors everything they ask. That's not always bad, but if you don't understand why they are asking for certain things or feel they are painting you in a corner, take a step back. Don't give in without understanding what they are asking and why. Why do they want to know who your customers are? Why do they ask about customer owned licenses? Software Assurance? Historical information? If you can't answer "why" maybe you need help. In walks SPLA Man. Nah, in walks Mrs. SPLA Man, every auditor's worst nightmare. She put together the following list on how to better prepare yourself for the unexpected.
Mrs. SPLA Man's List
- Don't be fearful – no matter what, it's your business and YOUR customers.
- Have a plan. Know what's in your customer agreements. If you need to refresh your agreement language, do it. Software licensing rules change daily, if you have not updated your contracts on license mobility or datacenter outsourcing, update it now.
- Don't bring unwanted attention to your organization. Always report usage on time and pay on time. 80% of all delinquent reporting has nothing to do with the reseller or Microsoft. It has everything to do with a SPLA partner's account payable dept.
- Don't have one person manage your usage reporting. In a lot of cases, a person leaves a company who was the only one who worked with the reseller directly. When that person leaves, who is responsible for reporting?
- Don't be pressured. Audits can take up a lot of resources. Don't give up customer engagements to satisfy an auditor. Your customers are the lifeblood of your business, don't delay meetings with your clients.
- The publisher needs you. You are their sales arm. You bring the hybrid cloud to life.
- Find out from the publisher who manages your account. When was the last time you spoke to them about strategy or best practices?
- Relax. It's not the IRS auditing you (yet)
- Don't settle just to settle. You didn't grow your business to the magnitude you've grown it without having negotiating skills (and guts).
- Don't be scared to ask for help. Have a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading,
Mrs. SPLA Man
PS – Slay that dragon!