How to Create a Winning Microsoft Teams Licensing Strategy

An invaluable checklist for IT leaders interested in evaluating their Microsoft Teams licensing strategy 

July 28, 2021

With almost 300 million Office 365 subscribers, 145 million daily active users on Microsoft® Teams and phenomenal growth in Azure, most companies today are paying Microsoft license fees. In fact, Microsoft licensing is often a top expense item in enterprise software budgets. This guide focuses on how to optimize Teams licensing.

The rapid adoption of Teams to keep remote workers connected in 2020, meant there was not always time to evaluate user needs or licensing options. There are numerous purchase options available, whether directly from Microsoft, via a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) or, more recently, through the Microsoft Operator Connect Program. And, if you’re looking to use Teams for external calling, that adds further complexity.

Now, as organizations prepare to return to the office, many are looking at ways to optimize their use of Teams and achieve productivity gains. This process should include a review of licensing requirements. Intrado is helping organizations to achieve outcome gains of 10-20% of their total licensing fee. In some cases, the elimination of over-licensing and other improvements have reduced licensing spend by over 50%. We share some of our key learnings in this checklist.

This guide will be invaluable for IT leaders interested in evaluating their Microsoft Teams Licensing strategy, including:

  • Skype for Business Online users who need to move to Microsoft Teams by July 2021.
  • Companies that want to add external voice capability to their existing Teams system.
  • Companies that have already added voice to Teams and are looking to optimize license usage and reduce costs.
  • Companies that have already added voice to Teams and want to maximize employee adoption, empowerment and productivity.
  • Companies that currently use Microsoft Enterprise Agreement discounts that are due to expire and are looking for a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP).


Microsoft licensing


1. Coming to terms with a cloud-centric world

While a cloud-first world brings many advantages for IT buyers, it also creates fundamental changes to the way we purchase and evaluate IT services. The continuing migration to the cloud, and ongoing fluctuations in online users, adds to the urgency of understanding and managing user licenses.

Complexity is inherent in the cloud purchasing model, and it is only going to get more complex. Around 10 years ago, when Microsoft launched Office 365, their cloud services catalogue listed just a few dozen product codes; today, there are almost a thousand different packages available. To put this in perspective, in a recent six-week period alone, over 192 offers were added or deleted from the catalogue.

As Teams continues to evolve, it is important to recognize that getting licensing right is an ongoing journey. To further add to the complexity, many IT departments include both on-premises and cloud solutions in their infrastructure. If you have invested in proprietary systems, then a move to the cloud may not be straightforward and weighing up the options will be critical.


Whether you are looking to move to the cloud or stay on-premises, there are multiple options to consider from a licensing perspective. It is worth noting that Microsoft has reduced discounting and support for on-premises products and limited product rights. In a nutshell, if you are planning to remain on-premises, be prepared to pay.

2. Realize the full potential of Microsoft Teams

As a reaction to an urgent need to keep home workers connected, many organizations implemented Teams without time to consider licensing needs in detail or to fully evaluate end-user needs. As we begin to think about what a return to the office might look like, it is an ideal time to review your situation and consider how to get optimal value from your Teams investment.

During the last 12 months, it has become clear that Teams is more than just a communication platform. It represents a new way of working, enabling effective collaboration with file-sharing capabilities, team groups or channels and providing a central hub for the workforce, wherever they happen to be working.

While making Teams a more significant part of your business can make financial sense by empowering your workers and increasing the value of your investment, practical end-user training and adoption programs are critical. Enhancing productivity and improving user experience to realize your hybrid work strategy means encouraging end-users to make full use of the capability Teams offers.

Another way to increase value is by adding external voice calling capability to Teams. With a Microsoft Phone system, you can lower telephony costs and create a single point of support. However, this is not necessarily as simple as it sounds, with several ways to achieve this, depending on the size and nature of your organization and your existing telephony infrastructure. You can explore all the options in detail in our IT Leaders’ Checklist for Adding Voice to Microsoft Teams.

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