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BSA Offers 2-Year Vendor Audit ‘Forbearance’ in Exchange for Organizational Certification

2-Year Forbearance from Vendor Audits for Certified Organizations

Last year the Business Software Alliance (BSA) launched an industry training course and certification scheme based on the ISO/IEC 19770-1 SAM Standard (further details here).

Today the BSA launch an ‘Organizational’ certification. The BSA claim the new Certified in Standards-based SAM for Organizations CSS(O) program is ‘the first and only enterprise-level certification for Software Asset Management (SAM) in the industry based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) SAM standard.’

In a nutshell:

  1. Organizations must have certified personnel and demonstrate sustainable SAM processes
  2. The organization can be independently audited against SAM Standards by a third party auditor
  3. The organization can become certified by the BSA, which includes ‘Forbearance’ against vendor audits from BSA publishers for two years. See the diagram on this page for a broad overview.

Forbearance’ is an interesting choice of words. My interpretation of the term is that it does not mean immunity. Vendors are delaying or refraining from their legal right (as per the EULA) to audit as opposed to offering complete immunity from EULA clauses.

Semantics aside, I think it is a great step from the BSA to offer organizations yet another benefit for adopting Software Asset Management. Vendor audits are costly and distracting, with this organizational certification SAM professionals can demonstrate a tangible cost benefit of adopting the ISO standard to their senior management teams.

“The forbearance provided by BSA members to organizations that obtain the CSS(O) enables the organizations to save additional costs and focus on their core business processes, rather than be distracted by software audits.” says Abhay Gupte, senior director of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India Private Limited.

My only criticism of this news (and it is nitpicking of an otherwise positive move forward of the SAM industry) is the reliance on BSA trained personnel; the CSS(P)’s. CORRECTION: The BSA inform me that they are not tying CSS℗ to CSS(O). “An organization does not need to have a CSS℗ on staff to get CSS(O) certified. While we believe it will be helpful to have one, there is no such requirement. What is required is that the auditor, or CSS(A) be independent to the organization for the assessment”.

It would be good to see the BSA recognize other training courses that show alignment with the ISO standard. After all, the BSA are in the game of increasing adoption of SAM and reducing piracy and not market share in SAM training courses. In an ideal world it would be good to see some unity between IAITAM, BCS, BSA and others in terms of a recognition, cooperation or bridge with other training providers.

Shameless Plug & Disclosure: I am certified by BSA under its ‘Certification in Standards based SAM’ CSS(P) certification program. I enjoyed the course and have referred to the program many times during my current SAM engagement.

The certification scheme has initially been launched in India with global roll-out pencilled in for 2012.

To learn more about CSS(O), please visit:

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About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource and community for worldwide ITAM professionals.

Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.

On a voluntary basis Martin is the Chief Agitator at the Campaign for Clear Licensing, a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the SAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770 and board member of Free ICT Europe which supports the ICT secondary market.

Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Joseph Boell says:

    I too am BSA, Certified in Standards based SAM Professional. I guess we are kind of a unique breed as there sure aren’t many of us!

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