Leading U.S. Transportation Company Eliminates Audit Uncertainty with Origina
With beginnings as a regional service, this international transportation company has enjoyed sustained growth and built a sterling reputation with travelers thanks to its focus on innovation and experience.
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“It was a full-court press to help with our audit defense. It was very impressive to have.” — IT asset manager, international transportation company
ACTIVE AUDIT DEFENSE | ONGOING COMPLIANCE ADVISEMENT AND SUPPORT
When the pandemic hit in 2020, transportation companies of all types – and success levels – were forced to pump the brakes and reevaluate supplier relationships. In a leading U.S.-based transportation company serving international customers, the discussion quickly fell to software vendors, which IT acquisition and asset management leadership felt charged too much to be cost-effective in the post-pandemic business landscape.
A thorough review of software licenses and usage uncovered fears that an IBM software audit – commonly used as a tactic to force renewals when the current license is close to culmination – could further add unwanted expenses. Having already been subject to over $1 million in audit fines in the early 2010s, this rightsizing enterprise-level company had little interest in going through the process again.
Wishing to improve its compliance posture and illustrate its willingness to remediate any other issues in good faith, the transportation company sought direct help from IBM. However, the megavendor was unable or unwilling to provide sufficient guidance.
Undeterred, the company pushed forward with its own internal analysis. This led to substantial changes within the organization, including a $150,000 spend to reactivate unsupported licenses.
Despite these moves, the sheer complexity of the landscape left the transportation company concerned. Timelines that made it difficult for stakeholders to keep their eyes on the ball the duration of a lengthy audit process only heightened the sense of pressure, yet another experience the company had undergone during the first audit and wished to avoid in subsequent encounters.
The company needed support that could cut through the murk, build an active defense, and strengthen its ongoing compliance posture if it wished to align technology spending with business growth plans. That was only achievable with a partner that made niche expertise available on short order – something Origina could provide.
FROM FIRST CONTACT TO MILLIONS SAVED
Keen to innovate and achieve an aggressive growth plan following their rightsizing endeavor, the company first turned to Origina for intermittent help with IBM Informix, based upon a recommendation from another third-party software maintenance (TPSM) provider with which they’d previously done business.
As an IT asset manager within the company said during an interview, third-party software maintenance providers are a strong choice when the client company eventually intends to deprecate the supported product, or when it wishes to support and maintain a product in the long-term without undergoing a costly, risky upgrade. Origina provided the enhanced, personalized support the transportation company had been searching for, making its talent pool readily available when the odd question came up. The concierge-level approach immediately impressed, deepening the company’s appreciation of the TPSM model in general.
Based on that experience, the transportation company knew who to call to prepare their compliance posture in the event of a second audit. Leadership initially wished only to retain Origina’s services at the time an audit occurred, but lingering memory of the previous investigation – during which extensive timelines made it difficult to keep track of the complex agreement terms and landscape – pushed them to consider a more proactive defense.
Thus began the first phase of an extensive audit defense project designed to keep the concerned company on its own roadmap, not IBM’s profit model.
First, Origina’s experts examined the business’s entire IBM estate, hunting for configuration issues, agreement term verbiage, workloads, and other complexities that might cause IBM’s auditors to submit a finding. Working with Origina’s experts helped the team classify its software correctly and understand complexities and snags in licensing rules that could’ve led to costly misuses.
Phase one gave way to phase two, active audit defense, when a new IBM audit notice crossed leadership’s desk in late 2021 – not surprising considering the company’s desire to rightsize its estate and the tactics software megavendors use to boost customer retention.
At this point, Origina stepped into a wingman role, relying on the proactive prework the team had carried out to enable a reactive situational defense.
With the TPSM industry’s leading independent IBM expert in the wings, this international transportation company was able to sidestep issues that might have caused a less prepared business to sigh and break out the checkbook. Origina provided consistent access to the highly specialized skills the organization needed to understand the realities of its IBM compliance posture, making its expertise freely and contextually available in follow-up meetings that occurred after calls with IBM auditors.
Origina further helped determine what data to send following requests from IBM and quickly fielded questions that a tiered support model would struggle to efficiently answer, freeing the company from a faceless, inefficient support system.
In one specific incident, auditors submitted a finding of more than $3 million. Upon reviewing the terms of their IBM agreement, Origina helped the company put forward a counter that whittled it down to a much more agreeable figure — $0.
Following the successful save, Origina now performs continued defense for future audit issues, utilizing its deep expertise to ensure ongoing health and compliance and lowering ongoing financial stress for stakeholders.
“They’re knowledgeable, but patient enough to make sure there’s an [appropriate] knowledge transfer,” one IT leader within the transportation company says. “We want to not just get through the audit but learn about the licensing and IBM environment. It was great, the way [Origina] was able to help the team learn.”
Origina’s managed service keeps thorough watch of the ILMT deployment, with quarterly meetings to ensure the next audit doesn’t create shockwaves in the company.
In that sense, the company views its relationship with Origina as less of a vendor-vendee transaction and more of a partnership.
“Origina is very much a valuable partner,” the IT leader says. “The level of representation we got was pretty impressive. They’re very consistent and very focused on the end result. And they want you to be happy with the product.”
The consistency of the partnership transformed into significant bottom-line savings. The team estimates Origina’s assistance helped erase around $24 million dollars in risk exposure.
“They’re the preeminent IBM experts,” the IT leader continues. “The amount of expertise they bring is very appealing. They partner with you in lockstep all the way through [the audit] process. And they care about the result.”
By partnering with Origina, the company was able to:
Extend the life and value of legacy IBM systems, making room for the team to focus on their modernization strategy
Approach a daunting audit process with a trusted partner at the ready
Take proactive steps to mitigate the effects of a potential ILMT audit, saving tens of millions in risk exposure
Achieve a feeling of ongoing security, knowing its risk surface from a potential audit is greatly reduced
“[Origina is] the preeminent IBM expert. The amount of expertise they bring is very appealing. They partner with you in lockstep all the way through [the audit] process. And they care about the result.” — IT Asset Manager, international transportation company
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