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Software compliance audits increasing in the UK

FAST Corporate Services : 03 September, 2009  (Technical Article)
FAST Limited is warning UK software users of an increase in audits which has taken place during the last 12 months on software licensing compliance
The number of organisations being audited by their software vendor has increased by almost 50 percent, according to a survey by FAST Ltd, a UK authority on Software Asset Management (SAM) and IT Compliance, providing software, education, consulting and managed services.

Nearly 30 percent said they had been audited or inspected by a software publisher, against 20 percent in 2008. The figure supports recent evidence of a change in the software compliance landscape, with audits on the increase. Over the last 6-12 months, nearly 17 percent of FAST's respondents said they had faced an audit.

Independent UK research conducted by IDC in October 2008 cited that 52 percent of all companies have been subject to a vendor audit or review in the past 12 months, whilst 23 percent have been subject to three or more audits or review during this timeframe.

These results show that with an estimated 60 percent of companies being under-licensed and 40 percent over-licensed, the software compliance industry is really cracking down and highlighting the consequences for organisations of not having effective SAM programmes in place.

Andy Pearce, Managing Director at FAST Ltd said that there continues to be considerable risk associated with non-compliance. However the threat of hefty fines or a detrimental effect on corporate reputation shouldn't be the sole driver for compliance.

"Our research shows that although nearly half (45.4 percent) of organisations joined the FAST Compliance Programme because they were 'concerned with the legal implications of not being IT compliant' or that they 'needed help to get their software licensing in order', detailed financial control is also a key driver, especially given the current economic climate.

"In uncertain times, what organisations must get from their IT estate is predictability and reassurance, not unexpected, unbudgeted costs. Similarly organisations want to ensure that they are not spending money on software licensing unnecessarily, so SAM and compliance become even more pertinent as organisations attempt to rein in their costs during a recession. FAST is here to raise awareness and help organisations become more proactive in their licence management and compliance activities."

The FAST annual customer survey, which tracks FAST customers' adoption of its software licensing compliance programme showed that for FAST's customers, the overwhelming main compliance priorities are software licence compliance (27 percent) and software asset management (24 percent).

The survey also demonstrated that customers' compliance activities are benefiting from strong executive support. In 2009, more than three quarters (77 percent) of FAST members said their Board had been either supportive or very supportive of their software compliance project.

Pearce continued: "These figures are extremely encouraging to see as it has been a challenge for us and the industry to demonstrate the benefits of having a successful SAM programme. Understanding the consequences of not complying coupled with gaining executive support for a compliance programme is very important."
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