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Be prepared for the Microsoft Software Asset Management Review 3 December 2014

How confident are you that every piece of Microsoft software running in your organisation is correctly licensed? Let’s be honest – it can be hard to keep track of the detail, particularly when the day to day issues of running a business take priority over record keeping.

But your answer could become much more significant when the question is being asked by Microsoft itself, as part of what they term a Software Asset Management Review. We’ve recently had a couple of clients receive a letter advising them to complete such a review.

In simple terms, the review is an audit. Microsoft knows what software you say you’re using under a Volume License agreement. Now they want to check that their records match reality. If there’s a significant discrepancy, you could be faced with a sizable bill for licences you’re using but haven’t paid for.


Who gets selected to face a Software Asset Management Review?

Microsoft don’t tell us how they select which organisations they choose to review, or audit, and their reach extends to both businesses and non-commercial organisations, such as schools, colleges and charities.

The basis for the review is usually the existence of a Volume Licensing agreement. The review may have been tripped by Microsoft spotting a potential discrepancy between the number of licences for two different products that are typically used together.

Whatever the reason for the review, they seem to be increasingly common, so it pays to be prepared.

What is the review process?

The first you’ll hear is a letter from Microsoft, giving notice of the review. Tempting though it might be, don’t ignore it. The letter will be followed up with an email setting out a series of engagement steps, which require you to make a response.

A key document in the review is the Deployment Summary - a spreadsheet you must to complete and return to Microsoft. This will keep you busy for a while, as it asks questions such as:

  • How many computing devices do you have, broken down into categories such as desktops, printers, hand-held devices and the like?
  • How many desktop and server operating systems are being used?
  • How many developer tools are being used?
  • How many cloud bundles have you bought?
  • List your product keys.

You will also be asked questions about how your organisation buys and deploys software, how it handles the disposal of computer hardware, and how often the number of licences used is reconciled to what you’ve purchased.

Having received this information, Microsoft analyse it and send you an estimate of your licensing position, based on their assessment. This is where potential discrepancies could appear, between what you’ve paid for and what Microsoft thinks you should be paying for.

Take action now to be ready for a review

The key to navigating the Microsoft audit is to have a comprehensive and up-to-date register of both your hardware and software assets. If your organisation doesn’t have such a register, perhaps now is the time to start compiling a list.

If you do have a register of sorts, but you know it’s incomplete or out of date, consider getting it fixed. Better to plan the time now than to wait until you get the review notification letter from Microsoft, with its strict timetable for compliance.

When our clients received this letter recently, they got in touch with us right away, because we maintain an up-to-date register of their software assets. Not only did this register allow them to answer Microsoft’s questions relatively quickly, it also provided assurance that their licences were up to date, minimising the risk of unexpected surprises.

Other benefits provided by our proactive IT support service include:

  • •  Automation of routine IT tasks to ensure systems are running smoothly.
  • •  Microsoft Patch Management ensuring that all Microsoft software is kept up to date in order to maintain optimum security and functionality.
  • •  Background fault identification and logging, allowing prediction and prevention of issues before they cause problems for system users.
  • •  Comprehensive remote management of mobile devices.
  • •  24-hour support and recovery service, helping firms recover from security breaches as quickly as possible.

If you want to know more about how we’re helping organisations manage and protect their IT systems, we’d be pleased to have a no-obligation conversation about the potential solutions. Call us now on 0808 168 9135 or email

Minimise disruption and maximise efficiency by being proactive, not reactive. Get in touch with us today.