The odds of businesses of all sizes being reviewed by Microsoft for licensing compliance has increased.  Since the beginning of 2015, 12% of CRU clients have received Microsoft review requests, and we expect that number to grow. Microsoft plans to conduct these reviews with customers every 2-3 years.

Called the Software Asset Management (SAM) review, it’s Microsoft’s first step toward ensuring that all businesses understand their licensing agreements and are in compliance.  The SAM includes a review of all Microsoft products on your network, including Office, Office 365, Windows, Server, Server CALs, etc.

Here’s how it works:

  • Your business receives an email and possibly a phone call from Microsoft inviting you to participate in a SAM review.  The email includes the required steps and an expected timeframe.
  • If you work with an IT provider, this is the time to engage them.  Your IT company can use its own automated inventory tool to provide the required data, or Microsoft also provides a tool
  • When the data is collected, you return it to Microsoft, and they will send you an Estimated License Ownership Position document based on their records.
  • Any discrepancies are brought to your attention, and you are given the opportunity to correct any non-compliance issues.
    • Depending on the discrepancies, you may communicate back and forth with Microsoft to clarify any questions.
    • Microsoft has not enforced penalties if shortfalls in licensing are found, as long as they are corrected immediately.
  • When the SAM review is completed, you will receive a final License Ownership Position that outlines the licenses your organization owns and the licenses in use.  Microsoft suggests you continue to use this document to keep your licenses in compliance.

If your business doesn’t voluntarily participate in the SAM review, Microsoft has the option to perform a Legal Contracts and Compliance (LCC) audit.  This audit is not voluntary and could result in penalties for non-compliance.  These audits are handled by the Business Software Alliance, the anti-piracy group.

If you have any questions about your software licenses and compliance issues, contact your IT provider.  They can help you ensure that everything is in order when it’s time for your business’ SAM review.