Efficiently Identify “Unneeded Licenses”

November 30, 2020

By Mike Breier

The Forbes Technology Council recently posted the article “14 Cloud Usage Costs that Could Bust Your Tech Budget”. It highlights many systemic issues that cloud computing poses to IT Professionals. What it lacks though, is concrete actions which today’s IT Professional can readily implement to overcome these issues.

As an expert in IT Cost Management, Televon has years of experience tackling these issues for clients. This experience has shown us there is a continuum of solutions to most of these problems. A few steps in the right direction, using existing resources and tools, can result in +50% improvements. The hard part is identifying the right steps, so you don’t waste time and erode your ROI. With this in mind, we are digging deeper into several of the topics Forbes lists, providing you with processes from our own best practices that you can implement immediately. 

These differ from underutilized licenses. Unneeded Licenses are licenses that are no longer needed by the user…

The first topic we will cover is # 8 on the Forbes list, “Unneeded Licenses”. These differ from underutilized licenses. Unneeded Licenses are licenses that are no longer needed by the user, either because the service no longer serves a need or because the user is no longer with the organization.

It is very common for Televon to find 10-15% cost savings by identifying unneeded licenses with a new client. The first thing we get asked when we identify these is “how did this happen?”. We can confidently say that this isn’t because of laziness or lack of awareness in the organization. Two systemic variables create this inefficiency:

1. End users (those licensed) and the tools they use are a dynamic environment; employees change, organizational strategy adjusts, and new tools become available. Managing each user’s licensing needs requires a dynamic process that can react to these changes.

2. The need for IT Departments to prioritize their work based on limited resources. Sifting through data to look for unneeded licenses falls pretty low on the priority list. Especially when compared to the other demands of an IT team; maintain system functionality, monitor security, ensure disaster recovery, solve user issues, and plan for the future. Because of this, IT Departments treat license management as a static decision event, similar to an annual renewal of a contract.

Shifting to a dynamic management approach while minimizing resource utilization is possible. The key is in,  A) focusing resources where it will make the most impact, B) using existing tools that require little training, and C) creating a repeatable process. Here are is a quick list of actions you can use to find low hanging fruit without overloading your team:

  • Prioritize which services to manage based on total spend.
  • Start with 2-3 services such as Microsoft 365, the CRM (e.g., Salesforce), and Infrastructure (AWS or Azure).
  • Leverage the reporting capabilities of the service provider. Focus on user login activity reports. Export these to an Excel spreadsheet and then sort by last activity for each user. This will highlight the top targets for de-licensing.
  • Incorporate a look-back period in your analysis. Televon considers anyone that has not been active in the last 90 days to be “Inactive”. This will help to avoid false positives.
  • Communicate with department leaders and users to verify your findings. If you cannot positively verify that a user’s license needs deleting, then consider downgrading the license or temporarily “suspending” it. This will maintain the user data while reducing your costs.
  • Have a team lead run the first few analyses to ensure organizational support. After a few successful runs, you can delegate the task to an analyst or admin.
  • Start by running the analysis each month to maximize efficiency and establish the process. You can scale back to quarterly runs down the road.

Sticking to the above best practices not only improves your budget while minimizing resource utilization, but also positions IT as a partner in the organization by helping other departments achieve their objectives efficiently.

Televon is a leading provider of IT Cost Management services, insights, and best practices. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest insights and industry news.

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