By Jeremy Sayler\nThe words \u201clicense audit\u201d are guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any Oracle customer today. At best, going through the audit process is a hassle. At worst, it can result in an unexpected hit to the IT budget \u2013 even if you\u2019ve been trying in good faith to play by the vendor\u2019s rules.\nAcross the globe, CIOs are working to optimize IT budgets and reduce the burden of costly annual vendor maintenance fees. They want to focus on driving innovation and growth into their businesses. But like death and taxes, vendor audits are inescapable \u2013 typically occurring at least once every three to four years for Oracle. If your organization is not prepared, an audit could divert thousands, if not millions of dollars away from critical projects. Proving that you are in compliance and clearing up any problems can just be expensive and a drain on resources.\nIn today\u2019s market, where new licensing revenue can be harder and harder to find, software vendors are likely hungry to find their next meal. Don\u2019t throw chum in the water by being unprepared or uninformed about your software license rights and obligations. It\u2019s wise to understand your risks in a vendor license audit and guard against them.\nMany industry analysts estimate that a software licensee can expect an Oracle or other major vendor audit every three to five years. These vendor audits are costly, not just with potential non-compliance findings, but with demands on internal resources to support audit inquiries or vendor scripting requirements.\nAccording to a study conducted by the ITAM Review, the average software audit takes more than seven months and consumes nearly 200 hours of IT department time. That is time that could have been spent creating efficiencies or innovation.\nBut vendor audits are not going away. Audits are proven to drive license sales revenue for vendors and can provide the vendor with leverage when they want to push a client to adopt emerging revenue streams like cloud product lines. Therefore, software licensees need to prepare themselves for the inevitable audit and, through this diligence, mitigate the risk of a license compliance finding and excessive demands on internal resources.\nMany organizations think they are compliant with vendor license agreements and yet most of these organizations don\u2019t fully understand the many licensing pitfalls that can ensnare even the most diligent of asset management teams.\nSo how does an organization implement a license compliance strategy that will successfully mitigate the risk of compliance findings in future vendor audits? Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to eliminate all license compliance risk, but here are some best practices to reduce risk:\n\nImplement a Software Asset Management (SAM) program: Assign a resource to manage licensed assets and asset consumption by internal teams. Require internal staff to submit change requests before modifying system configurations or software usage, including use of software option packs. SAM tools are a great resource for managing license inventories and even measuring license usage. However, these tools still require experienced license analysts to correctly manage license compliance positions.\nInventory your software license assets: The foundation of any Asset Management program is the complete accounting of license assets owned by an organization. Review vendor ordering documents and support quotes to identify current licensed assets. Maintain a record of licensed assets in a centralized location for easy reference.\nMaintain an Oracle Server Worksheet: Document all Oracle software implementations to accurately track where licenses are in use. All environments (Production, Test, Development) should be documented and make note of hardware CPU allocations to allow for accurate license usage counts. Some SAM tools offer a version of an Oracle Server Worksheet as part of their offering.\nPerform an annual internal audit of license usage: Evaluate the usage of all Oracle products and compare findings to the Oracle Server Worksheet and existing quantities of licensed assets. An accurate measurement and allocation of license usage can be challenging. Many licensees will need assistance from a qualified and independent license compliance firm to correctly assess their license compliance position.\n\nVendor licensing policies are often complex and can change with emerging technologies, and this makes it difficult for licensees to stay informed. The key is to be well-educated on the Oracle audit process, licensing concepts, and Software Asset Management strategies to better prepare internal resources and mitigate the organization\u2019s risk in the event of a vendor audit.\nDon\u2019t wait until the jaws of an Oracle audit are closing on you \u2013 Watch the on-demand webinar 5 Pitfalls of Oracle Licensing and Support to learn more.\nRimini Street License Advisory Services offers a complimentary, 30-minute consultation on Oracle licensing concepts. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.\n_____________________________________\nAbout Jeremy Sayler\n\u00a0\nJeremy Sayler is an enterprise software industry veteran with nearly 20 years\u2019 experience in support delivery, software license audits, account management and project management.\u00a0As Director of License Advisory Services at Rimini Street, he is responsible for empowering clients to more confidently manage their software license agreements by providing guidance on vendor contract terms, license metrics, audit processes and methodology for how license usage is calculated by software vendors. Prior to joining Rimini Street, Mr. Sayler spent 8 years at Oracle Corporation serving as a license auditor for Oracle License Management Services.