How to powerfully negotiate in software audits

Having the right planning and project management in place to coordinate data gathering is critical to maintaining power in audit negotiations. Especially when timelines are short, we advise clients to appoint a project manager either from their company or a person who has successfully worked with them before and understands the company.

In audit negotiations with software publishers, any inaccuracy or missed obligation on your part can give auditors more power to demand reparations. You can prevent embarrassment and the unintentional empowerment of software publishers by adhering to 5 crucial aspects of every audit settlement:

  1. Accurate audit results;
  2. Pay the agreed settlement sum;
  3. Circulate a software code of ethics to employees;
  4. Complete a certificate of compliance;
  5. Submit documentation to demonstrate software compliance.

Accurate numbers (1) and documentation (5) can be especially challenging. Often, audit results are put together in aggregation spreadsheets with data provided by people in the organization who have little to no insight into the terms and conditions of software usage, or who have a limited notion of the depth and complexity of  conditions. On the aggregated level, numbers that were submitted as best of knowledge are seen as facts and assumed to be accurate numbers of software usage and consumption.

It doesn’t take much effort for an experienced auditor to demonstrate the inaccuracy of these numbers, resulting in a bad commercial position for the company under audit.

The same goes for the gathering of the proof of entitlements and other documentation from various sources within the organization. We frequently hear from clients they are sure to have agreed on particular rules of calculation, but the written proof is missing. Again, this weakens the company’s position and power in audit settlement negotiations.

Although it sounds simple, having the right planning and project management in place to coordinate data gathering is critical to maintaining your power in negotiations. Especially when timelines are short, we advise clients to appoint an project manager either from their company or a person who has successfully worked with them before and thus understands your company.

Supported by the proper knowledge and workflow as provided by B-lay, and the appropriate management support, it is possible to gather accurate data and compile the required documentation in a way the software publishers can accept, thereby focusing the settlement on the commercial debate instead of being caught off guard due to lack of quality or completeness.

Mark co-founded B-lay in 2008 and is the company’s managing director since then. Additionally, to his managerial role, Mark is using the extensive software compliance knowledge he gathered since 1997 to help organizations worldwide get insight into the risks associated with using and managing their software licenses, as well as preventing compliance issues and save costs. This is also strongly visible in the Zyncc product line of B-lay. Prior to founding B-lay, he was responsible for all compliance activities in Europe, Middle East and Africa at Oracle. This included building the foundation for what now is the global Oracle License Management Services (LMS) team and onboarding the many acquisitions Oracle made over the years into the compliance program of Oracle.

Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in Company Economics and IT from Hogeschool Enschede in the Netherlands.