Conduct Your Own Software and Services Audit
In your small business, you may be a staff of one or you may employ a handful of people. When you purchased software, the license was for one user. You likely used a personal email address and bank card to make the purchase. At some point, you hired or contracted someone to create a website, or even to purchase additional software, on your behalf. If any of this sounds familiar to you, then it is important that you protect your business from software license and service issues, such as violations, cancellations, or inaccessibility. A small business attorney can help you with all of your intellectual property and licensing concerns.
Do Not Leave Your Small Business Exposed
It has become increasingly essential for small businesses to have an online presence, but finding the right web designer can be difficult, especially for the long-haul. But, outsourcing web design as well as having shared accounts with multiple users, such as the owner, employees, and contractors, can leave you prone. Failing to audit these various accounts can have a big impact on small businesses. Imagine the effect on your daily operations if the person who was developing your website leaves abruptly with no forwarding contact information. This can leave you with an unfinished website and no idea of how to access your license information or password. What if services are canceled because someone did not pass along a reminder that the credit card on file expired? If your domain fails to auto-renew, you will be in danger of losing it. Your attorney will not only help you stay compliant with your software licensing, but also advise or represent you if an employee or contractor misuses or violates the terms of an agreement.
Where To Begin Your Software and Services Audit
The scenarios above are just a few of the potential disasters you can easily avoid by conducting a software and services audit. Your audit will be made smoother by keeping organized records of receipts, license certificates, and other contracts or purchases related to your business’s software. It is important to maintain an inventory of all programs installed on desktops, laptops, or any device used for company purposes and to establish a usage policy. The policy should include privacy and confidentiality rules for employees during and after employment. Here are a few other important places to start your audit.
- Email – Know how many email accounts are being used in your business and whether you or your employees are using personal addresses for company business. If you use email to communicate with clients, be aware of who else has access to important or sensitive information as well as the history of conversations.
- Domain/Domain Name Server (DNS) – Track expirations dates on all of the domains you own, and be sure to submit and keep current payment and contact information. There are services available to host your domain and manage your DNS if you would rather not have your domain registered alongside your webhosting.
- Software – If your website uses paid software or add-ons, know who owns these software licenses and to which email they are linked. This will ensure you receive important security updates and have access to web support. If your business develops websites for others, you can help them manage their site by providing a handover pack with important details and instructions. For example, I let a paid add-on for my credit card processing add-on expire which caused my credit card processing not to work when the credit card add-on was updated. The two add-ons were dependent on one another and updating the paid resolved the issue, but it took several emails from clients asking why it wasn’t working for me to figure it out!
While it seems like a monumental undertaking, auditing all of the software programs and services your business uses will save you time and stress down the road. You do not have to address everything at once – start with something small and continue to work down the list whenever you have a little time.
If you need help with software licensing, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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