Office 365 Planning with SysTrack

Introduction

Strategically provisioning Office 365 licenses can lead to a variety of valuable benefits for a company. There are many components to planning what the ideal Office 365 license for each user is that involve understanding the value of each license and how to efficiently switch over. Deciding what the best license is for a user involves knowing the frequency of usage for each application and understanding what comparable applications can be swapped for their Office 365 variants. Having a full understanding of these concepts can simplify the overall software portfolio and reduce licensing costs, saving the company time and money. While determining the best license for each user may seem like a complicated task, SysTrack's Office 365 Planning Kit offers suggested licensing, making the process easy and straightforward.

Why Switch Licenses?

The task of switching users to their optimal licenses may appear tedious. While there are a lot of steps to consider before making the big leap, the resulting benefits make doing so worth it. Having each user assigned to their optimal license can save the company valuable money, time, and resources. If all the job roles in a company are on the same license despite their needs, the company may be overpaying. If some of those job roles can function with a reduced license, the company can potentially save money. The SysTrack Office 365 Kit highlights the projected cost based on the suggested fit as displayed below in Figure 1. This can be compared to current costs to see potential monetary savings.

Figure 1: License Cost Prediction

In Figure 1, one may have noticed the E3 to E1 and the E3 or E5 license suggestion. Switching from E3 to E1 can save money at the infrastructure level since web-hosted applications and light bandwidth use for the applications can be cheaper and easier to maintain than locally installed instances. The locally installed applications are also more difficult to update and can introduce versioning issues and a whole slew of other problems into the environment. The primary saving of switching from E5 to E3 stems from the licensing cost. If a user only uses the E5 category applications for viewing purposes and not for editing purposes it could be argued that they can use a different app for viewing and forego the inflated license for rather significant savings.

Provisioning optimal licenses also promotes a streamlined computing environment, as end users will have redundant, comparable applications removed from their software portfolios in favor of the Office 365 alternatives. The miscellaneous applications can not only clutter and slow down the environment, they are also another potential problem for IT to handle. Having a more condensed set of applications for users will result in less potential sources of error in the environment and add to the potential monetary savings by reducing IT workhours that would be required for maintenance and troubleshooting. This ultimately allows IT to learn the potential impacts of those limited applications so they can act on the impacts faster and more accurately. In the end, the company saves money by reducing oversight and allowing IT to spend their time on more valuable projects.

The Planning Method

All users have software applications that they either use daily for their job role, less frequently for special cases, or not at all. However, these application-use requirements heavily influence the type of licensing that a user is given, and without proper provisioning, the user might lose valuable applications or have a cluttered environment, leading to poor user experience. The first concept to consider while planning to switch licensing is to understand what each suggested license offers. Table 1 below displays each suggested license category and the available applications for each license.

Table 1: What is Offered in Each License Type

As highlighted above, E1 licenses involve web based applications while E3 licenses involve the full installable application. What makes E5 licenses distinct is that it includes database and publishing applications.

Table 1 also provides the applications' 10 distinct categories that capture Office 365's different levels of licensing. The categories make it easier to visualize what kind of applications can potentially replace the unused/lightly used applications for each user. While there is one Office application per category, each category can have various applications that all have the same overall functionality. The Office 365 applications are the most compatible together in terms of the ability to sync together, but users may prefer other applications based on usability or popularity. For example, the Office Suite works best together, but it is common for users to use different meeting applications other than Skype. While Skype is the most compatible, it may not be the most popular among users and therefore it goes unused. The categorization of applications highlights how if certain categories have less usage, they can be removed or replaced with other compatible applications allowing an adjusted license as displayed in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Categorized Application Usage

Each license has its own unique advantage as stated before, but how do these categorized applications fit into them? It's mainly based on how much each application is used and fitting the user to the lowest license that covers their application use. If the user has a low to no usage for most of their applications, they will receive a suggested fit to be Unlicensed. If a user shows usage in only the File Share, Group Chat, Email, Word Process and Spreadsheet categories, they will ultimately be recommended the E1 fitted license. The user may fall in the E3 to E1 category because they may use the full installable version of the Email, Word Process and Spreadsheet category. However, if they don't use any other applications, the user's needs will easily be met with the web based versions of those three categories. The E1 license suggestion provides online applications that will fit the user's needs and save the company money. If the user typically uses applications in the E1 categories and any applications in the Presentation, Document Sharing or Meeting categories, they will be suggested an E3 license. If the user utilizes applications that fall into E3 licensing, but also use applications in the Database or Publishing categories, they will be suggested to go on the E3 or E5 license. This license is suggested because the user could be simply viewing files with the application or using it to produce content. Depending on how heavy the usage is for the Database and Publishing category, the IT administrator can decide what the best fit license is for that user. Ultimately, each user is assigned their best fit license based on their final objective, observed application use, as shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Suggested License Based on Application Use

Use Case

An IT administrator decides that they want to give everyone the best fitted Office 365 license. They begin by using our Office 365 Kit, starting with the Office 365 Planning dashboard. The dashboard immediately summarizes how many users have been fit into each license as displayed in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Suggest License Distribution

The administrator progresses through the dashboard and sees the projected monthly costs based on the new license suggestions broken down from how much each license costs to the total amount for all users. This allows the administrator to quickly and easily see how the suggested license fits affect the monthly license cost. They then progress through the dashboard and see the suggested license type for each user with complementary graph showing the overall usage of each application category for a given license fit, highlighting the main drivers of that category. This graph essentially highlights the frequency of usage for each application category allowing the administrator to make their own decisions on edge case users like the E3 or E5 suggested license. Upon selecting an application category, the dashboard reveals further details on the focus time and active time for that application category including the application they choose to use as displayed in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Details on Application Category

These details allow the administrator to clearly see the determining factors for each user's suggested license fit. This data can provide strong and directed justification for the licensing of many job roles. For those users that do not fit cleanly into a single license and require additional consideration, this detailed usage data can be utilized by administrators to confidently make the final call.

Conclusion

Strategic planning on the provisioning of Office 365 licenses can lead to many benefits for a company. It saves the company money when certain job roles and users can go down a license level. It also leads to a healthier environment by reducing the total number of applications that need to be supported. With the help of SysTrack's Office 365 Kit, IT administrators can easily understand the needs of their end-users and confidently provide them with the optimal Office 365 license. Interested in learning more about SysTrack's Office 365 offerings?