The Path to No More Software Audits (Mar. 31, '16)

Return to News & Media



Terms of use

The Path to No More Software Audits

Few people in software today have the trifecta of software asset management experience that Cathie Jo (“CJ”) Ortega has, having worked both as a customer implementing SAM and licensing optimization programs as well as for software publishers in both sales and compliance roles. Most recently, she spent five years with IBM, first as a Worldwide Software ELA Sales Executive, and then, heading its North America license management team. Prior to joining IBM, she spent about 15 years on the customer side leading software licensing, IT procurement, vendor management, contract negotiations and SAM teams.

This pedigree gives Ortega a unique perspective on software asset management, which she’ll share at the SAM Summit, July 11-13, in Chicago as a keynote speaker.

I spoke to her recently to get her take on the changing relationship between software sales, software license enforcement, and software asset management.

“When I moved from IBM sales to leading the licensing management effort in North America, I was most surprised by how few customers had a robust software asset management program in place,” says Ortega. “While a larger number of customers had some level of asset management program, I expected the number who had reached a mature stage to be much higher.”

Without a complete, mature SAM program it’s no surprise that over-deployment happens, says Ortega. “Without adequate processes and controls, deployments occur without authorization from a licensing professional who is knowledgeable about license requirements and the company’s existing license status.

The lack of mature SAM programs results in customers unintentionally using more software than they’ve purchased, Ortega says. The resulting widespread over-deployment has led to our current environment of frequent license compliance audits.

“No customer likes signing contracts that say a publisher can come in and audit for compliance,” says Ortega. “Years ago, as customers, we accepted those provisions (with the best modifications we could negotiate) largely because no one ever came in and actually audited. Then when the auditing began, publishers learned that there was a significant amount of software deployed that hadn’t been purchased. So more and more suppliers developed audit programs.”

But there could be a different future, says Ortega.

“Imagine all the money that goes into developing audit programs. What if it were used to develop education and outreach programs to help customers achieve compliance,” asks Ortega.

Today, she sees the seeds of change. “Some suppliers are working on ways to either provide licensing models that make it easier for customers to remain compliant, or to help customers determine how to implement controls that will help them recognize where they have license issues, solve them and prevent future license issues,” she says.  

But why spend resources to help customers manage their software since, certainly, audits produce a higher return than SAM services?

Because more important than cost, a positive supplier-consumer relationship is built and maintained over the long term, Ortega says. And retaining customers in competitive software markets just may be more important going forward. 

Vendors have a right to be paid for their software and customers generally want to do the right thing by their vendors, Ortega reflects. Assuming anything other than good intentions leads to anger, distrust, and, potentially, decisions that are detrimental to the vendor’s business.

Ortega reminds vendors that, while they might be recouping revenue for their company or boosting their sales numbers, people lose their jobs over expensive findings. Audits are stressful and having a defined approach that treats people fairly helps eliminate emotion from the audit process. “Treat every customer the same. Be fair and equal,” she says, pointing out that the size of the customer or the amount of the customer’s investment should not change the audit process.

Ortega proposes a future in which software companies are driving sales by forging strong relationships with customers, using education, rather than chasing down non-compliant consumers.

All of this circles back to the robust SAM programs that Ortega promotes.

“The benefit of a full-blown SAM program is the ability to make choices,” she says. “You make an educated decision about what to purchase when and you have the data on internal demand that you need to negotiate the best price for your volumes. Software optimization is the whole objective of SAM.”

“And if we were all compliant and bought licenses before we deployed the software, it wouldn’t be profitable or necessary for publishers to audit (because we’d be paying for the licenses as we needed them), so audits would go away! If you drive THAT message to the executives in your organization, it will help fund your SAM resources,” Ortega suggests.

Today as a consultant, in addition to working with customers to assess spend management and negotiate transactions, Ortega helps organizations build and mature their SAM programs. She teaches her clients how to gain executive buy-in and funding for SAM, how to negotiate license agreements, and use SAM data to optimize their licensing.

Join us at the SAM Summit, July 11-13 in Chicago for Ortega’s presentation and many more. Register now at

Published by ECP Media LC
P.O. Box 1549 | Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106-1549 U.S.A. | Office and fax: 1.734.930.1925

ECP articles are provided to IBSMA by arrangement with

Terms of use

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information regarding the subject matter. Neither the publisher nor the author(s) is offering legal, accounting or tax advice. Although care has been exercised and every attempt made to verify the information in this publication, neither the publisher nor the author(s) is responsible for errors or omissions. Neither the publisher nor the author(s) is affiliated with nor endorsed by any organization listed here or by any subsidiary company. Trademarks are the property of their respective owners. ITIL® is a registered trademark of the United Kingdom's Office of Government Commerce. The Certified by logo is a licensed trademark of ECP Media. The publication may be printed for personal use. The publication MAY NOT be printed for distribution in a public or private venue (i.e., conferences, trade shows, direct mailing, etc.).

© 2016 ECP Media LC ( No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded or other) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher.