When we conduct our IT audit for new customers, we usually end up finding all sorts of issues – some obviously more critical than others – however, no issue is as easy to spot or as frustrating to find as a business literally throwing thousands of pounds down the drain on an Office 365 licence that isn’t right for them. I say “frustrating to find” because most small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) don’t have the luxury of throwing away even a penny, and even when we do work with an SMB that has the luxury of a generous IT budget, we always recommend that the additional savings made by correcting their Office 365 subscription be invested in enhancing their IT further, especially when it comes to security and GDPR. So, with this mind, I’d like to share with you three of the most common issues our managed services team find when it comes to SMBs and their Office 365 licences.
One: Thinking everyone has to be a Premium user
Time and time again our managed services team encounter businesses that have purchased Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions for every single user in their organisation – from CEO down to customer service representative and everyone in between – even though most don’t need or use more than half of what the Business Premium subscription offers. Keep in mind there are seven different Office 365 subscriptions to choose from, each offering slightly different capabilities and pricing – there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
This is why we advise companies, especially those with tight budgets, to take a step back and conduct a detailed assessment of each user’s requirements; doing so will give you the opportunity to align each user with the relevant Office 365 subscription they need and ensure you’re paying for what your business is actually using. Remember, not all users in an organisation need the full capabilities of Office 365 applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Publisher. A senior executive, for example, might be perfectly well placed with the far more economical Business Essentials subscription, rather than the Premium one. As a key decision maker in the company, they only need access to the web versions of Outlook, Word, Excel or PowerPoint, because most of the time they are simply reviewing – not creating – reports, documents and presentations. A customer sales representative might also be just as content with a Business Essentials subscription as they a) don’t have a desktop, due to them constantly moving from one location to the next and b) only need to update certain fields within an Excel report which can be done without any issues from the web version.
A Business Premium subscription should only be reserved for those that actually need to use desktop versions of applications like Word or Excel, or require tools like Microsoft Bookings or Planner in order to execute their job effectively. An accountant that requires the full force of Excel and Power BI should be on Business Premium, the HR executive in charge of updating the company intranet should be on Business Premium, the project manager using Planner to assign tasks and manage workflows should be using Business Premium, the lowly content writer that simply uses Word to work his magic…he can be on Essentials.
If you take the time to properly asses your user’s requirements you can stop yourself from spending money on licences you simply do not need. We’ve done this for many clients, saving some up to £4K a year. If you’re not sure which licence is right for you, talk to us today, we’re more than happy to work through your business requirements and make sure you have the right subscription in place.
Two: Paying for legacy mailboxes
When an employee leaves a company, employers often decide to keep said employee’s mailbox. They might choose to do this for a variety of reasons, some compulsory, others for peace-of-mind/consistency: an employee might have left the business mid-project and information critical to that project’s success might be found in their inbox or, perhaps, they need an employee’s mailbox as evidence of a contract or agreement, or as proof as to why they had to dismiss them. Whatever the reason, paying for a legacy mailbox is a commonly found issue that can be easily avoided. How? Shared Mailboxes.
A shared mailbox allows a group of users to view, send and receive emails from one common email address (email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org) and with Office 365 they’re free and require no licencing. If you want to stop paying for legacy mailboxes, an easy way to do this is to convert inactive users’ mailboxes into shared mailboxes. As long as the individual’s mailbox is not being used and its only purpose is for viewing and retrieving archived emails you’re able to retain that mailbox as a shared one at absolutely no cost. We’ve helped customers save between £2-3K just by making this very simple switch, and because the cost of legacy mailboxes comes down to £0, the amount you save is the exact amount you’re currently paying for those legacy mailboxes. If you’ve got some legacy mailboxes that you’d like to save money on, talk to us today.
Three: Not getting your licence through a Microsoft CSP Tier 1 provider
Microsoft Partners in the United Kingdom that sell Office 365 subscriptions to their customers usually do so once they’ve bought that licence off a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner such as Advantage. What this means for customers is that they usually end up paying up to 10 percent more for their Office 365 licence in order to cover the added margin built into the price by the partner they’re getting the licence off. As a Tier 1 Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider, we get our licences directly from Microsoft, meaning there’s no need for us to charge a margin, and more often than not we’re able to save you money by offering discounts on Microsoft’s recommended retail price. Customers that have switched to us have saved up to £1500 just by virtue of us being a CSP Tier 1 provider.
And it’s not just money that you save when you go with a CSP Tier 1 provider; you also get the added benefit of working with a partner that has been fully vetted by Microsoft. In order for a partner to qualify as a CSP they need to show they provide cloud added services, such as providing customers with quality project services, managed services and their own IP, as well as being able to demonstrate that they are able to provide the technical expertise to provide support and manage a customer throughout the entire product lifecycle: Advantage is honoured to be a CSP Tier 1 provider. In addition to this, having your Office 365 licence with a CSP Tier 1 provider means you have a single point of contact for all your business requirements, as well as an easy to manage billing system: customers are able to purchase additional licences, applications and services, and have them all carefully laid out and accounted for in their monthly bill.
Every business needs email and all will use Word, Excel and many other Microsoft applications. Microsoft’s subscription model ensures you’re always running the most up-to-date version of Office 365 so you never have to worry about downloading the latest version of anything ever again – it’s all automatic. This product is truly great and it helps every type of business succeed, however, as an SMB with little-to-no wriggle room with their IT budget you need to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Don’t waste your money paying more than you have to, use it instead to invest in additional IT benefits.
If you’d like to start saving money on your Office 365 subscription, talk to us today.
Words by Camilo Lascano Tribin