There’s a simple fact about Microsoft SPLA (Service Provider License Agreement) that many partners overlook: Partners are contractually obligated to report monthly usage and keep records of all their monthly usage. But why is this a problem?
The challenge for service providers each month is to gather all the data, understand the data, and accurately report usage. This is something enterprises only have to do once a year with a “true up” but which service providers have to go through every month. During this process there are many variables that not only create unintentional non-compliance, but partners often end up over paying for software licenses.
When not working in this area full time, it’s easy to continue on each month with the same approach as the month before. This means you never really double check even the most basic elements – such as the physical infrastructure, the new deployments, the additional user access, managing and monitoring AD, learning the latest license rules…the list goes on.
The truth is that Microsoft SPLA licensing is incredibly complex. The constant changes and the new agreement structure has forced a shift in the management of this operational obligation away from in-house staff to contracted specialists. This is because the in-house staff often have another role and ‘reporting SPLA’ is simply seen as an add-on to their existing role and learning licensing is simply not worth the time. However, if this is not properly managed, it can lead to under-billing your customers, over-paying for software, and significant audit risk. So what to do?
Some practical starting points
As a SPLA partner, you need to have the answers to some fundamental questions:
When was the last time you cleaned out your ADs?
Did you know that, under and audit, you must report anyone who has access to a product, regardless if they actually exercised that access or not?
Are you properly tracking how your customers are using your services? Do you just rely on their reports?
Do you have a tool in place? Or do you collate data with spreadsheets?
Once you’ve taken stock of your key processes and potential exposures, you can begin to turn these pitfalls of SPLA licensing into opportunities. In my work, I’ve seen that most SPLA partners are actually under billing by around 30%. By getting on top of this element of their business, they not only save time and money but find missed billing opportunities that help grow the business.
A mature license management practice has many benefits
Identify any over payment of software licenses occurring each month
Identify missed billing opportunities and increase hosting revenue
Efficient use of time for your staff – focus on the important projects
Risk mitigation - achieve and maintain vendor compliance and avoid any unbudgeted software spend or audit risk
But as I said, the reality is that embarking on this process of SPLA license optimization can be too much for your in-house team. With a proven global practice and process that delivers consistent results for service providers across the world, SoftwareONE helps organizations remain focused on their core business whilst being confident their licensing is being taken care of.
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