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5 Essential Tips To Passing Your Microsoft Audit, Even If You Find A Mistake

By: Joshua Beitler on January 11, 2018

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5 Essential Tips To Passing Your Microsoft Audit, Even If You Find A Mistake

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Paper cuts, stepping on Legos, or even the stomach flu all seem preferable than going through a technology audit, right? This is especially the case if halfway through, you find a discrepancy in your licensing.

The truth is that many business owners find discrepancies in the midst of their Microsoft audit. If you’re in this situation right now, fear not.

Here are the five tips you need to know to pass your audit:

1. Microsoft Isn’t Auditing You To Penalize You

Microsoft is not out to get you. In fact, when you sign up for a software license with Microsoft, they let you know that in the terms and conditions that you can be audited. This audit really serves as an opportunity to check if you are up-to-date on your software licensing. 

Rapidly growing businesses are usually bogged down the most by a Microsoft audit. When you’re focused on expanding, tasks like changing user permissions, updating software licenses, and updating computers for new users can fall through the cracks. If you don’t have a good technology provider, this can become very cumbersome to keep on top of.

Before a business is told they didn’t pass the audit, it’s common for Microsoft to reach out to that business. At this time, any inconsistences or possible issues are usually clarified with a few emails. If Microsoft fails your audit at that time, they’ll point you to a local technology provider to purchase the necessary software licenses.

2. Missing A CAL Is An Easy Fix

The most common reason people don’t initially pass their Microsoft audit is that there is a Client Access License (CAL) deficit. This often happens when only 20 employees had access to the server when it was installed, but as time went on another 10 employees were added to the team, but not accounted for in the licensing of the server. 

If you’re in this situation, you need to do two things:

  • Explain the reason for the CAL deficit to Microsoft.
  • Provide proof that you are working to purchase extra CALs to fix the deficit.

Most CALs are retroactive. If you have a 2008R2 server but you’re short 10 CALs, you can purchase a 2016 CAL and it will be retroactive. Beware: there are rare CALs out there that do not offer this. Make sure you check the terms and conditions before purchasing to ensure that it does.

3. Provide Every Detail Possible

Microsoft’s audit team is looking for documentation on every piece of Microsoft software you own. Not only do you need to provide written explanation, but they’re also looking for photos, product keys and other important documents. They will ask you to provide the right Certificates of Authenticity (COAs) when necessary, invoices or receipts that show proof of purchase, and a CAL for every user connected to a server. This blog post has step-by-step instructions for collecting this information.

Register for this free webinar to discover how you can be leveraging the power of Office 365.

Even after providing heaping piles of documentation, some users still get negative feedback from Microsoft. This isn’t necessarily because their documentation was incorrect. Microsoft has extensive records on each of their users. Sometimes, they’ll find a decommissioned server under your name and ask for documentation. In those instances, you’ll need to work with them to show the server is no longer in use.

4. Steer Clear Of Illegal Software

Occasionally, we’ll come across businesses that are using illegal software or “crack” tools to gain illegal access to Microsoft software. Don’t put you or your business in this situation. Microsoft will discover the software and prosecute your business.

If you’re in the midst of an audit and/or you’re hiding software like this, stop and contact our team immediately. We can help you cut ties with illegal software and point you in the right direction.

5. Keep Calm And Talk To Your Provider

Whether this is your first time or you’re a seasoned pro, getting a Microsoft audit is stressful. Luckily, after a successful audit, Microsoft promises to leave you alone for two years while you recover.

If you need help with your audit or have any questions, contact our technology gurus here or call us at 410.685.5512.

 watch the on demand webinar here

About Joshua Beitler

Josh monitors, updates and troubleshoots network and server systems for clients. He works primarily in Windows Server, Microsoft Office and Office 365 environments, but also has experience with automated network monitoring and data backup solutions. Outside of work, Josh is a wine enthusiast. His technology background resulted in Josh creating an app to log the different wines he’s sampled.