SPLA Audit 101: What to Expect and How to Prepare

SPLA Audit 101: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Daniel Hall 21/05/2024
SPLA Audit 101: What to Expect and How to Prepare

Exploring the complexities of a Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) audit can seem daunting.

With the right information and preparation, you can handle it efficiently. This article will demystify the SPLA audit process and provide you with actionable tips to ensure you're ready when the time comes.


What is an SPLA Audit?

An SPLA audit is an examination conducted by Microsoft to ensure that service providers are compliant with the terms and conditions of their SPLA. This agreement allows service providers to license Microsoft products on a monthly subscription basis to provide services and hosted applications to end customers. The audit typically involves a thorough review of your usage reports, licensing records, and contracts to verify compliance.

Why Are SPLA Audits Conducted?

Microsoft conducts SPLA audits for several reasons:

  • Compliance: To verify that companies comply with licensing agreements.

  • Revenue Assurance: Ensuring that Microsoft receives the correct revenue based on actual usage.

  • Usage Transparency: To increase transparency in how their software is being used and reported.

Non-compliance discovered during an audit can lead to penalties, back payments for underreported usage, and potentially severe legal consequences.

Steps to Prepare for an SPLA Audit

Preparation is key to handling an SPLA audit smoothly. Here are some practical steps to get ready:

1. Understand Your Licensing Terms

The first step is to have a clear understanding of the terms and conditions outlined in your SPLA. Familiarize yourself with the specific compliance requirements and make sure all relevant personnel is also aware of these guidelines.

2. Maintain Accurate Records

Accurate record-keeping is crucial. Ensure that you maintain comprehensive and up-to-date records of your licensing usage. This includes:

Usage Reports: Regularly update and review your monthly usage reports.

Contracts and Agreements: Keep all contracts with clients and Microsoft well-organized.

Historical Data: Retain historical data that might be relevant to the audit.

3. Regular Internal Audits

Conduct regular internal audits to preempt any potential discrepancies. Internal audits can help you identify and resolve issues before they become problems in an official audit.

4. Training and Awareness

Train your staff on SPLA compliance. Ensure everyone involved in licensing and usage reporting understands their responsibilities and the importance of accuracy.

What to Expect During an SPLA Audit

Initial Notification

Microsoft typically begins the audit process by sending a notification letter. This letter will outline the scope of the audit, the time frame, and the types of information you will need to provide.

Information Gathering

During the information-gathering phase, you will be required to submit various documents, including usage reports, contracts, and other records that demonstrate your compliance with the SPLA.

On-Site or Remote Review

The audit may involve an on-site visit by Microsoft's auditors or be conducted remotely. During this phase, auditors will review your submitted documents, verify the data, and may ask for additional information or clarification.

Findings and Resolution

Once the audit is complete, Microsoft will provide you with their findings. If any discrepancies or non-compliance issues are identified, you will need to address them promptly. This may involve paying back fees, adjusting future usage reports, or other corrective actions.

How to Defend Against an SPLA Audit

An SPLA audit can be a time-consuming and costly process. If you need defense against an SPLA audit, seeking professional help can be invaluable. Engaging with experts who specialize in SPLA compliance can significantly increase your chances of a favorable outcome. These professionals can assist you in several ways:

  • Pre-Audit Preparation: They can help you prepare for the audit by reviewing your usage reports and records, identifying potential compliance issues, and advising on corrective actions.

  • Audit Representation: During the audit, experts can represent your interests, communicate with Microsoft's auditors, and provide necessary documentation in an organized and effective manner.

  • Post-Audit Support: If the audit identifies any compliance issues, professionals can help you address them efficiently, negotiate settlements, and implement measures to prevent future problems.

By leveraging their expertise, you can navigate the complexities of the SPLA audit process with confidence and minimize any potential disruptions to your business.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid


To ensure a smooth audit process, be mindful of these common pitfalls:

Inaccurate Reporting: Double-check all usage reports for accuracy. Even minor errors can lead to significant issues during an audit.

Communication Gaps: Ensure clear and consistent communication across all departments involved in SPLA compliance.

Neglecting Updates: Keep abreast of any changes in SPLA terms or Microsoft’s licensing policies. Regular updates and training sessions can help maintain compliance.

Preparation and awareness are your best defenses against an SPLA audit. By understanding your licensing terms, maintaining accurate records, conducting regular internal audits, and seeking professional help when needed, you can navigate the audit process effectively and ensure ongoing compliance. Remember, being proactive about SPLA compliance not only helps you avoid penalties but also reinforces trust with your clients and partners. If you're ready to take the next step in audit preparedness, consider consulting with SPLA experts to safeguard your business against potential risks.

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Daniel Hall

Business Expert

Daniel Hall is an experienced digital marketer, author and world traveller. He spends a lot of his free time flipping through books and learning about a plethora of topics.

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