Software license management is a critical IT activity, helping companies ensure that they are in full compliance with vendor contracts at all times, so they can avoid potential fines and penalties during a license audit. Yet, many companies mistakenly believe that tracking license keys (the number located on a sticker on the back of a software CD case) is enough to facilitate adherence to software license agreements.
Whether your software came pre-installed on your PC as an OEM, you bought a multi-user license directly from the vendor or reseller and installed copies yourself, or you purchased an OEM license, this approach is fraught with risk. In fact, according to many renowned license compliance consultants, license key codes are not considered viable proof of authorized ownership and use if an audit occurs.
What do you need to demonstrate software license compliance and mitigate legal risk? Documents that clearly convey legal ownership and use of the software. All companies should maintain a comprehensive proof of purchase trail that includes signed and dated license agreements, purchase verification records such as an invoice with the correct company name, and packing slips or cash register receipts that state the product name, version, quantity, and price paid.
Capture the proof of purchase
To demonstrate proof of purchase, you need to capture and maintain:
- The paper license, or COA with unique serial number, or other indication of possession of license
- A receipt, PO + cancelled check, or other purchase verification.
But gathering and organizing the needed materials after you’ve been notified of a pending audit can be a time-consuming and harrowing endeavor. The last thing you want is to be scrambling to collect the right documents when you’re under that kind of pressure.
That’s why so many companies are proactively facilitating software license compliance with comprehensive software asset management solutions. Software asset management makes it easy to store all required information, so it is easy to retrieve at any time. Whether you need it perform your own internal audit, or to respond to a request from a vendor or the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA), software asset management helps ensure that the right documents are always at your fingertips.