4WARD365, now called CoreView, is an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) that makes management tools for Office 365 and they invited me to blog for hire. I’ve just published my third and final blog post for them. It’s on their website. The article is reprinted below.
I’m about to embark on the next step in my professional journey, and that involves taking responsibility for an Office 365 tenant that I’ve never seen before. Here are some helpful tips I’ll share with you on how to assess an Office 365 tenant that’s new to you.
What products or product bundles have been purchased (subscribed to)? These can include a variety of Office 365 licenses with such memorable names as E1, F1, E3, E5, Business, Business Essentials, and Business Premium. Some are capped at 300 users. Some are only for government or education customers. Others may be bundled such as Microsoft F1, E3, or E5, as opposed to Office F1, E3, or E5. There’s multiple ways to purchase these as well, such as direct from Microsoft, through a License Reseller, or through a Cloud Solution Provider. Is it a stand-alone monthly or annual subscription, or part of a larger Enterprise Agreement? It’s important to understand these and the corresponding cost structure. Controlling your Office 365 costs directly relates to managing these licenses.
Furthermore, if you have multiple kinds of licenses, for example, E3 and F1, which users get which licenses and why? Are licenses only assigned to active users? If accounts for users that have left the organization still have licenses assigned, that could unnecessarily be increasing your costs. Proactively monitoring and re-harvesting those inactive licenses is an important admin task that should be performed on a regular basis.
You will also want to know who makes decisions about licensing and who can purchase more licenses.
Go into the Office 365 Admin portal and look at usage reports. What workloads (such as SharePoint, Exchange, OneDrive, Teams, etc.) are being used? Which ones are not being used? Why?
Also look at the Power BI dashboard about user adoption. Again, look at what is and isn’t being used, and ask whomever should be knowledgeable about the tenant or the business what has driven the current state of usage.
To take your analysis further, you want to correlate usage and license type. Once you do that, you can correlate usage and license cost. That’s hard to do with the out of the box capabilities. You will either need to resort to writing your own PowerShell scripts or make use of third-party management tools such as CoreView. A benefit of connecting usage with license type and cost is that you may be able to identify either users that can be assigned cheaper licenses or users that would benefit from training programs so they can get more value from the license they have.
Who makes governance decisions and what decisions have been made? That assumes there is a governing body in place – but there may not be. I’ve written previously about the governance team. That team needs to address a myriad of questions, including the licensing and usage questions above, as well as helping define the vision of how Office 365 will serve the needs of the business and what Office 365 tools to promote first. My Top 10 areas of governance are:
- Admin Account Governance
- License Governance
- SharePoint Site Governance
- OneDrive Governance
- Information/Data Governance
- Microsoft Teams Governance
- Service Configuration Process Governance
- General Usage Governance
- Security Compliance Governance
- Driving Usage Adoption
For a more detailed discussion of those areas of governance, see my blog post about identifying your governance needs.
Once you assess Licensing, Usage, and Governance, you will have a good foundation for managing and maturing your organization’s use of Office 365. You might also be ready to shop for some tools to help you manage the tenant and automate these assessment processes on a regular basis.