Ask Dux: Why is Managing My Microsoft 365 Licenses So Complicated?

Post Date: 08/11/2021
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Keeping track of your Microsoft 365 licenses is a tricky and time-consuming task. Does your organization have a plan?

In today’s episode, Dux Raymond Sy shares common pain points, the big value of license management, and how AvePoint’s new Cense solution can help. Ready to explore the matters concerning Microsoft 365 licensing?

Let’s go and Ask Dux!  

In this episode: 

Why is license management complicated? 

As Microsoft 365 grows, more and more options and capabilities are becoming available. Microsoft continues to provide options for customers as to the type of technologies they want, which correlates with specific licensing.  

Some of you may be familiar with E3; or if you’re in the government, it’s called G3. If you have frontline workers, it’s the F1 licensing. If you want the uber-featured Microsoft 365 package, it’s an E5 license.  

Long story short, licensing can be complicated depending on your needs and the size of the organization. The larger the organization you are, it becomes pretty clear that it’s not a one-size-fits-all. You may have a combination of different types of licensing—E3, E5, F1. It then becomes a challenge to figure out which license was assigned to who.  

If you’re an organization that has seasonal workers, there’s also a need to reassign licenses. This could be cumbersome for some. The good news is, it’s not that you can’t manage it out-of-the-box with Microsoft 365—you can—but it requires a lot of PowerShell scripting.  

Those are just some of the challenges and complications that may arise if you start looking into how you can get a better handle on your Microsoft 365 license. 

License spending 

A Gartner statistic recently mentioned that about one-third of Software-as-a Service spending goes unused. This makes a lot of folks want insights on what their staff are doing with their licenses.  

In Microsoft 365, license spending can only be viewed in a single, top down, essentially, tenant by tenant format. If you’re a larger organization and you have a single tenant, you can only look at it from that perspective. This native functionality doesn’t allow you to identify license spending on a particular person or department, which impedes any alignment or new efficiency based on their Microsoft 365 usage.  

For example, you initially bought E3 licenses for the whole company. And then you just realized that there may be groups in the company that may not need E3 license—you won’t have visibility into that. You won’t have an understanding which groups or which specific individuals may have been utilizing or underutilizing the E3 licenses you just purchased. 

Proper license management: native or third-party? 

Of course, one of the main factors why you would want this license spending insight is because of money. But time is also money. Some organizations may not be as concerned with how much money they pay Microsoft, but then more importantly, it’s the opportunity cost of being able to get this information that they’re after.  

If you have the team and the resources to write PowerShell scripts to monitor the use of these licenses, definitely take advantage of that team. Make sure the team will be able to maintain it. But if you don’t have that team or that luxury of having a dedicated PowerShell scriptwriter, I encourage you to check out third-party solutions.  

AvePoint has a solution called Cense, which was built based on customer feedback. It can easily help monitor and track the usage of a lot of your license entitlements for your Microsoft 365 tenant. We encourage you to go and check that out to learn more about it.  

Cense: Pivot based on your needs 

Being able to manage and take care of Microsoft 365 licenses is definitely one of the key areas IT organizations need to stay on top of as adoption continues to skyrocket and as you’re going towards hybrid work.  

Sometimes, we may have to respond and react to the business environment or to a new business climate. And so, the real value of tools like Cense is really about making decisions based on the data that Cense can provide. 

For example, if industries like hospitality and travel suddenly see a big boom in their business, there may be a need to hire more people; more seasonal workers. With that immediate business need, IT should be able to pivot and activate, reassign, or maybe expand the licenses they have. And so, just having insights of these are critical. 

Benefits to a stronger license management system  

For our business, it’s really crucial to focus on our expertise and our core business. Unless you have a solid IT team who can do license management all day long, I highly suggest you rely on what’s out there. Because what’s already out there has been developed based on customer needs and it’s constantly being updated.  

From an admin perspective, it can certainly make their lives easier, but it can also provide visibility and transparency as to how their investments are going around Microsoft 365, specifically as to how licenses are being used. This then becomes a welcome opportunity for the business as well. 

Again, as we continue to adopt the cloud and take advantage of it in this hybrid work environment, having a strong solution and a framework around license management is very important. 

Episode resources 

Manage subscriptions natively: Manage your Microsoft 365 subscription  

Manage licenses with PowerShell: Manage Microsoft 365 user accounts, licenses, and groups with PowerShell – Microsoft 365 Enterprise | Microsoft Docs 

AvePoint Cense: Microsoft License Management | Cense Office 365 License Options  | AvePoint 

What’s more? 

Check out Forrester’s New Wave SaaS Application Data Protection Q4 2021 report where only AvePoint received the highest possible score for multi-cloud SaaS backup criteria. Get free access to the report at 

Get involved! 

Don’t forget to send us your questions on Twitter with a hashtag #AskDux or send us an email at 

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With over 20 years of business and technology experience, Dux has driven organizational transformations worldwide with his ability to simplify complex ideas and deliver relevant solutions. He serves as the Chief Brand Officer of AvePoint who has authored the LinkedIn Learning course How to Build Your Personal Brand, the book SharePoint for Project Management, as well as numerous whitepapers and articles. As a public speaker, Dux has delivered engaging, interactive presentations to more than 25,000 people at leading industry events around the world. He also hosts the modern workplace podcast #shifthappens that focuses on how leading organizations navigated their business transformation journey. Dux advocates tirelessly for inclusion, using technology for good, and philanthropic initiatives. Connect with him:

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