If you rushed to sign up for Microsoft Teams (Teams) in 2020 because of the rapid shift to remote work, there’s a good chance you didn’t have time to fully grasp user needs or licensing options. As you probably know, enterprise software is one of the most significant expenses in a company’s IT budget—so having a solution that covers all your bases should not be taken lightly. Because Teams falls in this category, it’s essential to understand how to optimize your investment in and use of the platform.
Start by evaluating your Teams licensing, which creates the opportunity to take a close look at your licensing requirements. This can help you manage your licensing and get needed services at the best price. You may also get a productivity benefit as you rearrange the services and tools users can access. This evaluation time is also helpful if you need to adjust your Teams’ capabilities (e.g., adding voice) or if you’re looking for a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) once your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement discounts expire.
Before we dive into the steps to create a winning Teams licensing strategy, let's first review the available options.
Teams License Options
Businesses can license Teams through different Microsoft 365 subscriptions that provide different suites of tools, apps, and capabilities. If you are already a Microsoft 365 subscriber, you can add Teams to your suite of productivity tools, either through a Business Basic or a Business Standard plan.
Both of these options include similar Teams capabilities, although there are some key differences. For example, the Business Standard subscription comes with the ability to host webinars that include attendee registration pages, email confirmations, and reporting. Business Basic offers the most fundamental tools and popular features, including Teams. If you need more communication and collaboration features, you can add licenses for those you want to incorporate, such as calling or audio conferences.
Next, let’s take a look at four effective steps you can take to create a winning Teams licensing strategy. If you already have a license strategy in place, consider reviewing this guide to help determine if you should make any updates.
1. Embrace the Cloud
The rapid shift to cloud-centric services across all industries has changed the way we purchase and evaluate IT resources across the board. With continued cloud migration and a wider range of cloud options available to power your business, it’s becoming increasingly important to understand and manage user licenses to ensure you’re not overpaying for licenses and that you have the right ones in place.
Most cloud-based services offer some amount of cloud storage as part of your license. The Microsoft Business Basic and Standard license types noted above include cloud storage options that offer cost benefits based on what features you need. For example, if your company currently uses on-prem proprietary systems but wants to switch to Teams, consider this step-by-step guide to migrate from an on-premises PBX to Teams. Intrado can help you navigate the migration process and evaluate licensing options to ensure a smooth transition.
2. Understand Your Communications and Productivity Needs
To get the most out of a Teams licensing strategy, take time to understand your company’s collaboration and communication needs. Consider that new working arrangements your business may have recently embraced, such as hybrid environments, could change the features and tools your employees need.
To understand what will help your team to be productive, start by looking at groups of users who require similar sets of tools. For example, Microsoft offers different licenses for field workers, healthcare workers, retail employees, manufacturing teams, and government employees. And there may be other needs from one department in your company (like HR) to another (such as Sales).
A key aspect in defining your communication and productivity needs is anticipating any unique functionality your company will require. “Unique functionality” could include security and compliance or calling capabilities. This insight will help inform which tools you need and the license that will provide the best coverage.
Below is a list of questions to ask to gain a firm understanding of user needs:
- What type of working environment is the company currently implementing?
- Is the working environment expected to change in the future?
- What are the communications needs across the company and by department?
- What are the specific security and compliance needs for the company’s industry?
- What communications capabilities are currently being used/needed and what capabilities are unused/not needed?
3. Evaluate Your Existing Licensing
Cost savings is another point of concern that you should think through. Regardless of your current investment and use of the Microsoft Suite, there is probably room to save on Teams licensing. As a starting point, conduct an audit of your current licenses. Intrado’s License Advisory Service can connect you with one of the leading licensing management portals available if your team needs assistance doing this.
For reference, Intrado has a proven track record helping organizations save at least 10–20% on their licensing—even as much as 50%. For larger organizations, this could mean a savings of $100,000 on their $500,000 licensing fee—not an insignificant amount.
Although Microsoft’s wide range of licensing options can help you get a more customized Teams application, you may still be confused or unaware of the products, entitlements, and capabilities that come with your license. Outlined below are four key areas that can help you streamline your license.
Identifying unused products is one of the more straightforward scenarios to address because it is usually clear which products you or your team are not using. The savings you secure will depend on your specific licensing agreement. However, once you identify the products you don’t need, you can work with Intrado and Microsoft to end the subscription and see the price difference.
As workforces fluctuate, usage changes. For example, some employees may no longer be using Teams or related tools because they changed roles or have left the company—employee turnover, department relocations, or temporary leaves. Depending on your Microsoft agreement, you may release fees when users are inactive and then resume paying for their license once they return to the company.
Uncovering unassigned licenses is relatively simple to address. First, work with a vendor like Intrado to set up a license management portal to rectify unallocated licenses for you. That way, you’re only paying for licenses for workers who need to use Teams.
Sometimes users are given entitlements (administrative permissions and privileges) that they don’t need or use, which can cost you. Unfortunately, seeing which users have unnecessary entitlements can be somewhat tricky unless you use an expert, like Intrado, who can show you areas where selective licensing can save you money.
4. Take Action With the Right Partner
Having an expert partner to support the process of evaluating and choosing licenses can give you extra peace of mind and ensure that you’re getting the right option at the right cost.
Intrado, a gold-certified Microsoft partner, offers a free Microsoft License review to help you feel more prepared and confident to tackle the evaluation process. Through this process, we can help you review existing or new licenses to streamline payments and deployments. In some cases, companies find that multiple license types work best for them, both in cost and meeting employees’ needs. This is an available option, so there is no pressure to feel like you have to select one.
After the licensing selection process is complete, Intrado and other Microsoft partners provide end-user training to drive adoption across your organization, increase productivity, and ensure effective use of Teams to make the most of your investment.
Intrado helps you maximize the core capabilities of Teams to create an optimized collaboration and carrier-grade communication solution that can sustain your organization’s evolving needs.