Navigate a Quest Software Audit – A Guide to the Four Phases

To effectively navigate a Quest Software audit:

  1. Preparation: Thoroughly review your software environment and licensing agreements.
  2. Response: Respond professionally and gather necessary internal teams when notified of an audit.
  3. Data Collection: Accurately collect usage data and reconcile it with licensing terms.
  4. Negotiation: Discuss with Quest to resolve discrepancies or compliance issues.

What is a Quest Software License Audit?

quest software license audit

A Quest Software license audit is a formal review process conducted by Quest or authorized third parties to ensure that an organization’s use of Quest Software products complies with the licensing agreements.

These audits can vary in type, including self-audits, audits led by Quest’s license compliance department, third-party audits typically led by one of the Big 4 accounting firms (Deloitte, PWC, EY, or KPMG), or a combination thereof.

The process is structured into four critical phases: Kick-off & Audit Scope, Data Collection, Reporting & Reconciliation, and Settlement, each carrying equal weight in determining the audit’s outcome​​​​.

How is the Audit Conducted?

The audit process begins with the Kick-off & Audit Scope phase, where the scope and depth of the investigation are defined in collaboration with the auditors.

This phase is crucial for setting the foundation of the audit and includes determining which departments, legal entities, platforms, and products will be included in the audit.

The Data Collection phase involves gathering detailed information about software deployment and usage, which is then meticulously analyzed during the Reporting & Reconciliation phase. Here, deployment data is reconciled against entitlement data to identify any discrepancies.

The final phase, Settlement, deals with discussing the findings, where any identified discrepancies between used and entitled software are addressed, and settlements or penalties may be negotiated if non-compliance is found​​​​.

What Triggers a Software Audit from Quest?

Several factors can trigger a Quest software audit:

  • Increased Audit Activity: Quest has notably increased the volume of its audit campaigns, especially since being acquired by Francisco Partners and Elliott Management Corporation. This increase is partly due to the aggressive compliance practices adopted by these firms, which are known for rapid legal escalations​​.
  • Compliance Program Shifts: Initially designed to be sensitive to customer relationships while protecting Quest’s intellectual property, the compliance program has evolved into a revenue-generating effort. This shift has made audits a central business strategy for Quest, particularly under the ownership of venture capital firms focused on maximizing returns​​.
  • Lack of Awareness: Many organizations may not view Quest as a strategic software publisher and might underestimate the potential compliance risks within their Quest software portfolio. This underestimation can lead to a lack of proper management and control of Quest software, increasing the likelihood of an audit​​.

To minimize the risk of non-compliance and prepare for potential audits, organizations should regularly review their Quest entitlements and consumption, understand license consumption metrics for Quest products, and have a clear understanding of the contracts and license metrics governing their use of Quest products​​.

Quest Software Audit – A Guide to the Four Phases

quest audit process

If your organization uses Quest software, preparing for a potential Quest software audit is essential.

These audits are structured into four critical phases, each equally important in determining the audit’s outcome.

Phase 1: Kick-off & Audit Scope

The Quest audit begins with the Kick-off & Audit Scope phase, setting the foundation for the entire audit process.

  • Initial Meeting with Auditors: In this phase, you will collaborate with the auditors to define the audit’s scope and its depth of investigation.
  • Understanding Legal Requirements: It is imperative to comprehend the legal mandates and agree on the audit clauses. Using these clauses to your organization’s advantage is a key strategy.
  • Determining Audit Scope: The audit’s scope, determined jointly by the auditing party and your organization, includes:
    • Organizational Departments and/or Legal Entities: Typically, all departments and legal entities are included. However, checking your contracts to confirm if the auditor can audit global entities and locations is crucial.
    • Platforms and Products: While the scope usually covers all Quest software products, it is advisable to focus on those relevant to your organization, avoiding the unnecessary examination of unrelated products.
    • Duration and Effort: These parameters define the expected timeline and the level of effort required from both parties for the audit.

By effectively engaging in this phase, your organization can positively influence the trajectory of the subsequent audit stages.

Phase 2: Data Collection

The Data Collection phase is the second stage of a Quest audit and is typically the most demanding time and resources for your organization.

  • Assigning SAM Responsibilities: It’s crucial to designate specific Software Asset Management (SAM) responsibilities within your team.
  • Adherence to Initial Terms: Ensure that the terms set during the Kick-off and Audit Scope phase are clearly understood and reflected in the Data Collection process.
  • Internal Quality Control: Implement a robust internal quality control process to confirm that all collected data is complete and within the defined scope.
  • Sub-Phases of Data Collection:
    • Entitlement Data Collection involves creating an accurate baseline by inventorying deployment and entitlement data. It’s important to consolidate this information thoroughly.
    • Deployment Data Collection: Ensure that your SAM tool covers at least 90% for workstations and 100% for servers. Active Directory and SCCM are preferred tools, although Quest is open to using additional tools for inventory gaps.

Phase 3: Reporting & Reconciliation

The Reporting and reconciliation phase is the third stage of the Quest audit.

  • Auditor Analysis: The auditor will analyze the data about your license agreement, contracts, and licensing rules.
  • Reconciliation of Data: Deployment data is reconciled against entitlement data, forming a report that lays the groundwork for the Settlement phase.
  • Review of Findings: Carefully examine the raw data for errors or inconsistencies. If discrepancies are found, prepare a well-supported case from technical and contractual perspectives before challenging Quest.

Phase 4: Settlement

The Settlement phase is the final stage of the Quest audit.

  • Understanding the Audit Report: The auditor will present a report outlining the software used, the entitled software, and any discrepancies.
  • Review Before Acceptance: Thoroughly review the report and ensure all claims are backed with clear evidence.
  • Addressing Non-Compliance: If non-compliance is identified, Quest may impose fees, penalties, or extra charges. Verify that these costs align with your historical contracts and product terms.

By meticulously navigating these phases, you can ensure a more controlled and informed audit process with Quest.

Common Reasons for License Compliance Risks with Quest Software

Common Reasons for License Compliance Risks with Quest Software

License compliance risks with Quest Software often stem from a few common issues that organizations encounter.

Understanding these risks can help in mitigating potential problems and ensuring compliance.

  • Complex Licensing Terms: Quest Software’s licensing models can be intricate, with terms varying significantly across different products. Misunderstanding these terms can lead to unintentional non-compliance.
  • Overlooking Virtual Environments: Virtualization can complicate license compliance, as virtual machines can be moved and copied easily, increasing the risk of exceeding license entitlements without realizing it.
  • Inadequate Software Asset Management: Without robust software asset management practices, organizations may lose track of software installations, usage, and entitlements, leading to compliance issues.
  • Rapid Organizational Changes: Mergers, acquisitions, and restructuring can affect license requirements. Failure to update licenses to reflect these changes can result in compliance gaps.
  • Lack of Centralized License Management: When license management is decentralized, it’s challenging to maintain an accurate overview of software usage and compliance status, increasing the risk of non-compliance.

By addressing these common issues, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of license compliance challenges with Quest Software, ensuring a smoother management process and avoiding potential financial penalties.

Quest Software License Types

Quest Software License Types

Quest Software offers a variety of license types to accommodate different user needs and deployment scenarios.

Understanding these license models is crucial for ensuring compliance and optimizing software investments. Here’s an overview of the most common Quest Software license types:

  • Perpetual Licenses: This traditional licensing model allows customers to use the software indefinitely. The initial cost is higher, but there’s no need to renew the license annually. Maintenance and support services may require separate annual fees.
  • Subscription Licenses: These licenses are valid for a specific period, typically one year, and include access to updates and support services during the subscription term. Subscription licenses offer a lower initial cost compared to perpetual licenses and provide flexibility to adjust licensing needs over time.
  • Concurrent User Licenses: This model allows a set number of users to access the software at any one time. It’s ideal for organizations with users who need access to the software but not simultaneously.
  • CPU/Core-Based Licenses: Licensing based on the number of CPUs or cores on which the software is installed. This model is common for server-based applications and can vary significantly depending on the server’s size and configuration.
  • Site Licenses: These licenses provide unlimited use of software within a particular geographical location or site, offering flexibility and simplicity for organizations with high usage demands in a single location.
  • Named User Licenses: Specific to designated users, named user licenses are not transferable. Each license allows only one named individual to use the software, suitable for software that will be used regularly by the same person.

Understanding the specifics of these license types, including their limitations and requirements, is essential for managing Quest Software licenses effectively. Organizations must carefully assess their needs and usage patterns to select the most appropriate license type, ensuring compliance and optimizing their software investments.

Quest Audit Defense Service

  • Quest Audit Defense Service
    • Specialized support for organizations facing software license audits.
    • Expert analysis of software usage and compliance status.
    • Strategic guidance to navigate through audit processes effectively.
    • Tailored recommendations to improve software license management.
    • Support in negotiations and resolutions with auditing entities.

For dedicated assistance and to ensure your organization is fully supported during an audit, contact Redress Compliance for expert guidance and support.

Need help with your Quest Software Audit? We’re here to help.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson brings two decades of Oracle license management experience, including a nine-year tenure at Oracle and 11 years in Oracle license consulting. His expertise extends across leading IT corporations like IBM, enriching his profile with a broad spectrum of software and cloud projects. Filipsson's proficiency encompasses IBM, SAP, Microsoft, and Salesforce platforms, alongside significant involvement in Microsoft Copilot and AI initiatives, enhancing organizational efficiency.