Is your Office 365 spend optimized? Here’s how to make sure.

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If it feels like your Office 365 (O365) cloud spend has gotten out of hand, you’re not alone. The ease of deploying cloud technologies can sometimes cause organizations to lose oversight of their spend without realizing it.

With Microsoft’s Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) program, more organizations are switching to its flexible “pay-as-you-go” licensing model. But rather than focusing on actual usage when purchasing O365, many IT departments are going for the simpler administrative solution of provisioning the same subscription across the organization.

You must track everyday cloud consumption

The “pay-for-what-you-use” model can yield cost savings. But it’s only optimal if you’re truly paying for what you actually use.

If you have 5,000 employees and you purchase 5,000 O365 E5 licenses, sure, everyone is leveled up. But how many of your employees truly need E5 licenses? Who’s taking full advantage of the subscription, and who’s only using some of the available programs? Maybe only 1,000 of your employees need E5 licenses, and the rest will be fine with E1 subscriptions.

To make the model work for your bottom line, you need to start tracking O365 service usage levels and adoption.

2 ways tracking can optimize your O365 license spend

The golden rule is “you can’t measure what you can’t track.”

With efforts concentrated around the “select” and “deploy” phases of annual subscriptions, organizations sometimes move on without considering how they will manage subscriptions on a month-to-month basis. If you want to gain real visibility, then you need to make regular tracking a priority.

The old posture of overprovisioned licenses to mitigate perceived compliance risks has been essentially negated because subscriptions can be adjusted month to month to accommodate changes in the user base. However, for corrective action to be meaningful, customers must be ready to pivot in real time by committing to tracking O365 application usage daily.

The other way to optimize is by matching adoption levels to your organization’s O365 deployments. That can feel like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole, as you must either true-down or true-up to make the numbers work in your favor.

One way to drive usage of underutilized O365 services is launching an internal campaign based on tracking data that drives adoption of some of the more advanced workloads – things like file sharing, collaboration, and instant messaging (IM) that come with most Enterprise O365 subscriptions.

Use these campaigns to showcase how features with low adoption can help employees be more productive. At the same time, identify and celebrate the changemakers within your organization.  Empower them to lead by example and show coworkers how to get the most out of the technology.

How to optimize your O365 spend

In January 2018, Gartner reported that 80% of businesses will overshoot their cloud budgets through 2020 due to a lack of cost optimization. But there are ways to nip this in the bud.

Be mindful of spending on features that your users don’t need. Assess your O365 usage levels daily and be ready to act in real time.

At the same time, make sure your O365 subscriptions are based on actual user profiles, and not on one-size-fits-all licensing assignments. After all, there’s no payoff if you don’t actually know what you use.

If you’re looking to reel in your O365 cloud spend and optimize its value, SHI now offers O365 Optimization Services. To learn more, contact your SHI account executive or request a call back from one of our Office 365 licensing specialists.