Software licenses validate the legal use of software. With a growing majority of software used by businesses being cloud-based, software licenses today are generally purchased as subscriptions.

Back when software was installed on a desktop computer by way of floppy disc or CD, the unique license number was printed right on the box. Today, however, software license keys are delivered digitally and are only good as long as the software subscription is active.

Under this subscription model, the incentive is there to let licenses expire or even to use out-of-date or pirated versions of software. In business, most out-of-date licenses are an accident due to lack of essential software license processes.

If a software provider were to audit your business and the number of devices with their software doesn’t match the number of licenses you own, then your business could be in for hefty fines. Ensuring software license compliance and avoiding fines or an interruption to business is as simple as following these 5 steps.

What Is a Software License Audit?

First, what is a software license audit? Can software providers really audit your business?

Yes. At any time, a software vendor can compare the number of software licenses your business has to the number currently installed on your computers and other devices. If the number is off and your business is using the software beyond the licenses purchased, the discrepancy results in an infringement claim by the vendor. There are only a few ways for a business to address these claims out of court, and each option is costly and stressful.

The following 5 steps are preventative measures to avoid this situation. In the case you have more licenses than those you’re using, it can also help to find areas where you’re wasting money on software spending.

Step 1: Understand All Software Contract Terms and Penalties

Ensure your IT leads, CIO or IT partner has a thorough understanding of each software agreement your business holds.

Most software contracts are straightforward, but even past the number of software licenses there are other rights and responsibilities in these contracts that your IT leadership needs to be aware of.

Keep track of any changes to software agreements from vendors over time, too. These changes will always be rolled out with some kind of notification to users.

Step 2: Define and Implement Software License Policies

Once you have a clear picture of the rights and responsibilities of each software contract, create clear protocols for installing and using each software your business employs.

Put a regular internal software license audit on your business’s calendar, too, and outline a process that states who’s responsible for the audit and how it will be conducted.

Step 3: Perform Internal Software License Compliance Audits

Audit the software in use on each device for every user at least once annually. Put the audit on the calendar and have a checklist for each employee or position or device that is kept up-to-date with all the software used. Go through each checklist for a manual review of up-to-date license keys in compliance with each software agreement.

Step 4: Employ a Compliance Management Software

Compliance management software is an option to consider for bigger businesses if a manual audit would be too expensive in time and resources. This software tracks all the information that influences software license compliance, including expiration dates, license keys, usage, and software versions.

Step 5: Update All Your Software Licenses Consistently

Online-based software is updated automatically in the cloud, but anything installed locally to your machine has to be updated regularly by each user. Your software audit will catch it if anyone misses these updates, but reiterate to staff the importance of updating software when prompted to by the software notifications.

Computer St. Louis is ready to help you manage your software license compliance. Contact us to discuss your business and the software you use today.