How to prepare for (and avoid) a software audit

Audits are time-consuming, expensive and stressful. CIO UK looks at the best ways of how to prepare for a software audit

IT departments across the world are plagued by the looming threat of costly and time-consuming software audits. Clocking in at an average of 194.15 working hours (over a duration of 7.13 months) to resolve, it's no wonder that IT managers live in fear of a first notice. 

Software audits can be launched by the software vendor itself, a watchdog organisation or a third party such as a public accounting firm and will examine whether the company is using the software within all of the stated compliance regulation.

If the company is found to be non-compliant with any one of the licensing agreements, they can face prohibitive fines, leading some to suggest that these are predominantly initiated by software vendors seeking extra sources of remuneration beyond the point of sale.  

The exact nature of the proposed audit will vary depending upon which organisation launches it and what the scope of the audit is. For example, some audits may only target certain products, certain computers or specific time periods or locations. 

In some cases, it may be possible to dodge the requirement for a full-scale formal audit, if the company can show that it is proactively addressing any issues and taking the required measures to ensure full compliance. 

It may even be possible to avoid an audit altogether by implementing a strict and well-circulated software compliance plan. Even if that fails, doing so will lay the foundations for a relatively stress-free audit.

Here are CIO UK's tips for surviving a software audit, as well as minimising the chance that they will be initiated at all. 

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Additional reporting by Chloe Dobinson