In the face of increasing software audits vendors have been advised to establish formal programmes to avoid damaging relationships with customers.
The amount of activity by vendors keen to catch any lost revenue as a result of unlicensed or pirate products has risen sharply in the last two years of recession but according to a survey from Ernst & Young both users and suppliers have to make changes to how they are compliant and enforcing policies.
"The survey confirms that software audits are increasingly becoming a way of life for both customers and vendors. Faced with the challenge of doing more audits, vendors need to establish formal programmes which are conducted efficiently and in a transparent manner which does not damage the relationship," stated the report.
But there was also some advice for users that the survey revealed continue to have a patchy response to tracking their software assets.
"Users need to get a grip on their software estate so as to minimise the time and resources dedicated to audits and any subsequent penalties for non-compliance," it added.
The costs of failing to keep track of software assets has already been highlighted this week with yesterday's settlement with the BSA by a labelling firm for tens of thousands for failing to have the necessary Microsoft licenses.
Gartner recently revealed its customers have had more software audits and compliance specialists FAST Ltd have also noticed an increase in vendor activity.
The Ernst & Young report, Software Compliance without tears, pointed out that there was an increasing opportunity for resellers to step in and help users handle the pressure around the audit process.
"Audits represent a significant and growing cost to both parties, and some users proactively set up internal tracking processes, as well as bringing in external parties to carry out independent audits," it stated.
Over the past couple of years the reaction from the industry has been to promote Software Asset Management (SAM) as a way for users to track their compliance requirements but increasingly that function is being added to a broader range of services.
Ian McEwan. vice president of EMEA at Frontrange, said that the SAM specialist was extending its range into the SaaS market with the express intention of offering more services but also to provide customers with more clarity around licenses.
"There have been shifts in the last ten years adapting to the customer needs and it is now a flexible model because people don't have the skills and the knowledge to manage it themselves," he said.