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Opportunities for Office 365 Cost Savings

Executive Summary

As more organizations migrate to Office 365 they are finding that the administration overhead required to manage their environment, and keep track of the corresponding licenses, is much more than they bargained for. The promised land of cloud services and their cost savings can turn out to be somewhat of a mirage once the migration is completed. This white paper is intended for customers who have already transitioned to Microsoft® Office 365® and want to know how they can proactively manage their costs and find additional savings. The three opportunities for controlling costs that are detailed in this white paper include the following:

Optimize License Management: There is no one-size-fits-all Office 365 license type for companies to purchase. Instead they need to match the correct license with each information worker business need, while maintaining a keen eye on inactive accounts and unassigned licenses. Organizations that proactively manage their Office 365 licenses by following those three principles can reduce their license costs by 10% or more.

Improve Admin Efficiencies: Reducing the amount of time IT admin resources are burdened with managing a complex Office 365 environment will enable those resources to focus on new technology projects that will drive innovation and digital transformation. We estimate that an entire administrator FTE could be redeployed within an organization’s corporate IT group by using more efficient management tools and by delegating the tedious day-to-day Office 365 management tasks to regional administrators and help desk support.

Stop Paying for Duplicate Technologies: By focusing on driving the adoption of all Office 365 workloads an organization will inherently make overlapping, duplicate technologies redundant. In addition to those hard-dollar cost savings, the ROI for increasing the utilization of advanced features in Office 365 will provide time-savings and productivity gains outlined in multiple studies available over the past few years. Most notable and comprehensive of these Office 365 ROI analyses is Forrester’s “Total Economic ImpactTM” series of articles in 2011, 2014, and 2017.

Once the migration to Office 365 is complete, the previous on-premises IT infrastructure costs are no longer a dial that can be turned up or down in budget planning. Instead, each organization must shift their cost savings focus to optimizing the management for their environment and taking more proactive control over licensing assignments. Now that licenses are tracked and reported online to Microsoft, it benefits each organization to make sure they are only paying for licenses that are assigned and associated with active user accounts.

By following the guidelines in this white paper any organization can drive down their TCO for Office 365 and maintain a streamlined management model for the future. An example yearly cost savings estimate for a 10,000-employee organization is shown in the chart below. The details for each of the cost savings categories are provided in the chapters of this white paper. These projected cost savings are based on historical data from monitoring and managing over 1.2M seats of Office 365 since 2014.

Graph 1 – Estimated Yearly Cost Savings from Optimized License Management and Improved Administration Efficiencies

Opportunity 1: Optimize License Management

The free admin center provided by Microsoft to help organizations administer their Office 365 environment is sorely lacking any useful licensing management capabilities. For example, if an organization wants to reconcile their license distribution and validate their billing compared with what is being utilized, there are no reports in the admin center to help them.

For organizations that want to take complete control over the tracking, reporting and distribution of licenses to proactively manage their costs, they should follow the administration modeling outlined in the three subsections below. These will help explain the opportunities to ensure efficient license management and reduce unnecessary costs.


There are different reasons why accounts become inactive, but the most common is when interns, employees or consultants leave the company. If HR processes are not tightly linked to the corporate directory and Office 365, then those user accounts will remain intact, and so will the assigned licenses, even though the accounts are disabled.

By accurately tracking accounts and identifying inactive users, those registered licenses can be reclaimed and assigned to new employees as needed, or refunded to save costs.


Most organizations are oversubscribed for the number of Office 365 licenses they require. That is just the nature of a broad estimation process during the initial rollout and migration to Office 365. However, a few months after the transition it should be a monthly, or at least quarterly, activity for administrators to repurpose or return unnecessary licenses.

By accurately tracking unassigned licenses an organization can effectively reduce their associated license costs by engaging a viable inventory management model which requires minimal overhead of excess licenses since new ones can be acquired instantly.


Enterprise organizations perform an initial purchase agreement for different Office 365 license types from Microsoft when they are planning their migration. During this early assessment, they try to match the expected business needs of their user community. However, those initial guestimates are often proven wrong. It is only over time that organizations identify that some users do not require the advanced functionality of certain Office 365 workloads and they never will. By tracking the specific user activities of all accounts, especially after adoption campaigns have been completed, a clearer picture takes shape for the type of licenses needed for each business unit and for each individual job role.

By continually tracking license assignments and mapping that with the actual user activity in the Office 365 environment, an optimized management team can retrofit their licensing estimates based on real metrics. With this detailed information, the appropriate license types can be assigned to the users that have that business need for the corresponding workload functionality provided in Office 365.


Everyone is familiar with the old adage that states, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”. The admin center for Office 365 does NOT provide the level of details needed to do effective license management. Unless an organization writes their own PowerShell scripts to continually extract the information they need to scrutinize and assess their license distribution, and inactive accounts, they will not be able to optimize their license management effectively. CoreView provides those capabilities with no need to write your own PowerShell commands.

The table below shows specific examples of an optimized license management model along with the opportunities for cost savings if an organization follows the three methods outlined in this section of the white paper. The projected cost savings for a 10,000-employee company would be $149,250 per year.

Table 1: Example Cost Savings for Optimized License Management

*Note: All estimates shown in this white paper are based on years of actual customer data from running the CoreView solution in production.

Opportunity 2: Improve Admin Efficiency

The admin center for Office 365 was never designed to manage a distributed enterprise deployment. These types of large organizations have a complex distribution of users in different geographic locations, sprawling business units, and regional administrators that want to perform the simple, day-to-day admin tasks to support their local user community. But using the admin center requires giving out global admin rights, or assigning specialty roles without the flexibility to choose which admin capabilities are enabled for those inexperienced support personnel in remote locations.

So, the inefficient, fallback position using the admin center is to load all of the day-to-day Office 365 administration activities on the shoulders of the expert IT admins at the central office. This section of the white paper is dedicated to methods and solutions available to reduce the number of hours spent by those expert IT admins.


With any large, enterprise deployment of Office 365 companies need to maintain their own IT team to manage end-user issues. Many of these issues are due to configuration problems, provisioning, password changes, or actions that must be taken on distribution groups, forwarding mail, and the like. These actions require specific rights in the admin center portal, and sometimes in Active Directory as well. The trouble is that the admin center does not allow the delegation of specific access rights to lower-level admins so they can help with these activities.

So, an organization’s help desk and regional support teams are reduced to taking calls and then asking the centralized IT admin experts to perform the actions for them. Inherently this convoluted process costs a lot in time and money to have the IT admin experts perform all the tasks. If specific admin capabilities could be delegated to the regional support teams, then they could handle the bulk of the admin activities for their local user community. This would save hundreds of hours by distributing the admin work load and effectively reduce the time to resolution for user requests.


Another opportunity to help with the distribution of admin tasks for regional support teams is to actually divide the entire organization into logical user groups, or sub-tenants. Each subtenant could be assigned to their corresponding regional admins. This would enable remote support teams to monitor and manage ONLY the users they have been assigned responsibility. A single Office 365 tenant could be divided into these sub-tenants by grouping users with similar AD attributes, such as business unit, department, or location. Administrators can then be assigned to ONLY view and manage those specific user groups delegated to them.

By segmenting the user accounts within an Office 365 environment a central IT group would have granular control over what regional administrators can manage. This capability also relates to reporting features. Those regional support teams would only be able to include their local users inside their custom reports for security compliance auditing, troubleshooting issues and monitoring trends.


The last way to streamline Office 365 administration processes, improve efficiencies and optimize IT resource costs, is to automate everything that can possibly be automated. The problem with Office 365 administration for an enterprise organization is that it requires an IT expert, with full rights on the admin center portal, to perform a large number of low-value tasks. And many of those tasks need to be performed one user at a time. This equates to hundreds of hours of repetitive and expensive admin work each year.

In addition, companies reorganize their departments all the time, and users frequently change from one group to another. To change hundreds of calendar permissions in Office 365 requires a PowerShell script executed against a CSV file exported from the directory. That process requires an expert IT admin with a lot of time on their hands. However, with a fullfeatured, automated management solution, any low-level IT admin would be able to select as many users as they want and update them all with a single click. This type of bulk-action includes changes to calendar permissions, email delegation, service plan assignments, distribution groups, passwords, or quotas.


It would take a herculean effort to manage a large number of users with just the Office 365 admin center. It was never designed for the efficient administration of an enterprise organization. Instead, companies should search out a holistic solution that empowers their IT experts to perform the following:

• Delegate specific admin tasks to regional support teams and the help desk

• Segment their users into sub-tenants for controlled management

• Automate the day-to-day administration tasks

By automating the tasks of these IT experts and empowering them to securely delegate specific admin capabilities to regional support teams, and helpdesk engineers, their time commitments can be greatly reduced. This time savings equates to hard dollar savings in overhead costs for IT resources.

CoreView is that type of all-in-one management solution, designed to enable large companies to organize their IT support work force in the most efficient way, and reduce the overall costs of administration. The table below shows specific examples of an efficient administration model, along with the opportunities for cost savings if an organization follows the methods outlined in this section of the white paper. The projected cost savings for a 10,000- employee company would be $86,400 per year.

Table 2: Example Cost Savings for Improved Admin Efficiencies

*Note: All estimates shown in this white paper are based on years of actual customer data from running the CoreView solution in production.

Opportunity 3: Stop Paying for Duplicate Technologies

The final section in this white paper describes the opportunities to reduce IT costs by getting rid of overlapping, redundant technologies. Office 365 has a wide-range of capabilities that can take the place of many existing 3rd party tools that organizations have previously deployed to meet a specific business need. These other solutions perform actions such as File Sharing, Instant Messaging, Group Chat, and a large array of Collaboration functions.

Once Office 365 is fully adopted within an organization it is possible to remove those other duplicate technologies and reduce overall IT costs. There are probably pockets of these tools deployed in different business units across the organization, but the costs can add up to a large potential savings. Examples of these technologies include DropBox, SugarSync, YouSendIt, Jive, Jabber, HipChat, Egnyte, and many others.

As noted previously, by driving adoption of Office 365 the ROI benefits outlined from multiple customer studies can be achieved. These include the following:

• Reduced Telecom Costs (long distance calls, conference call bridges, etc.)

• Reduced Web Conferencing Costs (conferencing software licenses and maintenance)

• Improved Decision-Making Time (finding information easier and access to SME’s online)

• Improved Productivity Time-Savings (15 to 30-minutes per day for knowledge workers)

• Faster Task Completion through Streamlined Collaboration


In order to remove those duplicate technologies, it is imperative that organizations drive the adoption of the available workloads found in Office 365. This requires focused marketing and training campaigns that target specific users by job function and role. The added benefits of effective technology adoption campaigns are the productivity improvements for all users, even power-users, once they understand the advanced capabilities found in Office 365 and how they can be leveraged to simplify common job tasks.

To help organizations down the path of broad adoption of Office 365, Microsoft has provided a new adoption program to help guide IT groups. This initiative includes new Adoption Reporting capabilities and an Adoption Program Guide. However, there are many manual activities that need to be managed by the IT support group to make these type of adoption programs a reality.


Targeted adoption campaigns for new technology require more than just glossy posters in the cafeteria. Organizations need to integrate a training model along with the marketing campaign which is linked to the user communications. This training must be simple to access and easy to use. The most successful version of these include self-service training videos that can be accessed from different devices, even smartphones.

Tied in with every successful adoption campaign are tracking and reporting metrics as well. Organizations need to know the effectiveness of their campaigns by monitoring adoption trends, and easily identify users that remain inactive so that they can perform follow-up communications with additional training and incentives to drive their usage of specific technologies.


Organizations that can quickly drive adoption of the full suite of Office 365 workloads will be able to remove those existing, duplicate technologies much faster. CoreView is an all-in-one management solution that includes capabilities to drive targeted adoption campaigns, along with over 2,400 integrated training videos to assist organizations with their internal marketing programs. The table below shows specific examples of an effective reduction model for duplicate technologies, along with the opportunities for cost savings if an organization can quickly drive the adoption of Office 365. The projected cost savings for a 10,000-employee company would be $77,000 per year.

Table 3: Example Cost Savings for Faster Adoption of Office 365

*Note: All estimates shown in this white paper are based on years of actual customer data from running the CoreView solution in production.

CoreView Solution Value

In early 2011 a Microsoft business partner in Europe was providing BPOS (the early name for Office 365) monitoring and management services for their customers. It didn’t take them long to realize that a full-featured, integrated solution was needed to streamline the day-to-day functions for monitoring and managing an enterprise environment. Thus, was the birth of the CoreView product. Over the next five years the solution has grown, with new features and functionality added to meet the needs of customers around the globe. Today CoreView is the only all-in-one management solution for Office 365. And a bonus for multi-national organizations, the CoreView interface is easily configurable in multiple languages to accommodate different admin teams from around the world.

CoreView has been architected and designed from the beginning with IT administrators in mind. The solution addresses the main challenges that every enterprise IT group meets the day after the migration to Office 365 is complete. CoreView focuses on six key aspects to achieve complete visibility and control over the management of Office 365, and help reduce costs:

• Monitoring and reporting for all user activity, and admin actions, in Office 365; plus, real-time monitoring for service availability

• Enabling administrators with task automation through bulk-actions and integrated PowerShell scripts to perform numerous account updates easily

• Optimized license management with chargeback accounting

• Empowering a flexible administration model to segment users into sub-tenants and delegate admin rights that allows regional administrators to monitor ONLY their users and perform ONLY the specific actions they are assigned

• Configurable auditing and alerts for suspicious activities to notify admins immediately of any possible security compliance issues

• Customizable features to design and drive adoption campaigns along with integrated training videos


CoreView gathers information on all available activities in Office 365 including log file actions. There are over 125 customizable reports provided out of the box. All reports are generated in real-time with the most up-to-date information available. Customizable dashboard reports show aggregated data across all aspects of Office 365 to view activity trends and provide corresponding analysis between business units, geographic locations, and departments. These reports can also be exported easily and shared with management teams.

Service availability monitoring is performed on SharePoint Online, Exchange Online, and SharePoint Online Search services 24×7. This capability includes a highly-scalable and highly available cloud based probe service to ensure accurate tracking and reporting. Availability and performance monitoring from different geographic sites is also possible by configuring remote probes at those locations.


Common Office 365 admin tasks can be performed on groups of selected users from a single command menu. These bulk-actions enable administrators to finish their account updates in minutes instead of hours and greatly reduce the possibility of human errors due to repetitive tasks. CoreView was designed to reduce the day-to-day administration time needed to support an enterprise environment.

The CoreView interface enables drill down reporting to a specific user account where all corresponding information can be viewed on a single screen. Each user card includes tabs to showcase activity information on all Office 365 workloads (Exchange, SharePoint, One Drive, Skype for Business, etc.) All user account updates can be performed quickly and efficiently from this single screen, regardless of the related workload.


CoreView enables administrators to maintain complete control over licensing management with detailed reports that contain corresponding data for inactive accounts and unassigned licenses. Administrators are enabled to redistribute license types based on user activity. They can easily reassign full-featured licenses to power users who need advanced capabilities and revoke those licenses from users who only need basic features.

In addition, business units can be empowered to manage their own license allotments by assigning them specific license pools with hard limits. New licenses will need to be purchased for that business unit when their assigned licenses are fully utilized. This provides budget forecasting by business unit, or geographic location, and is easily configurable in a weekly or monthly report. Many central IT organizations already receive funding from business units to provide services and support, so this type of chargeback accounting is a common practice.


Organizations can utilize the monthly chargeback reporting to assign license allocation by business unit, or geographic location, so that associated costs can be distributed accurately within the organization. The license costs can be tracked monthly with snapshots taken at the end of each billing cycle and data exports submitted to the company accounting system.

The allocation of available licenses can be expressly divided and assigned to specific business units so they can control the redistribution to their users. This enables each business unit to manage their costs by assigning each user the correct type of license that matches their job requirements. When users leave their department, the associated license can be reassigned or held in the pending queue for a new account request.


CoreView has a powerful rights management delegation capability based on RBAC. Through the UI it is easy to assign specific admin capabilities to regional administrators, or help desk engineers, so they can assist with first-line support activities such as password changes.

In addition, user groups can be segmented into sub-tenants by business unit, geographic location, or any other AD attribute, and then delegated to specific regional administrators so they can ONLY monitor and manage their local users.


With CoreView monitoring all activities in Office 365 it is easy to ensure users stay compliant with business policies. Specific security compliance reporting can be configured to watch out for end-user actions that deviate from published policies and standards. These reports can also track trends and process improvement cycles to validate security standards are being followed.

Alerts can be configured to send notifications to administrators automatically when security compliance issues are identified. These alert reports can monitor document access, deletes and modifications, as well as security setting changes to shared folders.


Since CoreView does all the activity monitoring already, it is easy to identify employees who need additional training or assistance with utilizing specific Office 365 workloads. Those lists can be utilized inside the CoreView solution, along with adoption campaign e-mail templates, to automatically send customized messages with links to internal marketing content and training videos explaining the advantages of Office 365 applications. These type of targeted marketing campaigns can distribute different, tailored messages to users based on their job role and their actual activity history in Office 365.

CoreView enables IT groups to continue tracking adoption trends and perform personalized follow-ups with those users who remain inactive. Administrators can use preconfigured templates to send additional targeted follow-up communications to answer questions and provide incentives to drive adoption.

To assist with training, CoreView includes an integrated video library with over 2,700 specialized training videos covering all aspects of Office 365 and ProPlus. Users can select the videos for their area of interest and track the past videos that they watched. Viewing metrics for all videos is tracked and categorized for learning activity reporting. Standard reports are available to monitor the viewership of all videos in the available library to showcase the most popular items which can then be promoted during future adoption campaigns. Advanced reports even track learning activities down to the user level.

As noted previously, by driving adoption of Office 365 the ROI benefits outlined from multiple studies can be achieved. These include the following:

• Reduced Telecom Costs (long distance calls, conference call bridges, etc.)

• Reduced Web Conferencing Costs (conferencing software licenses and maintenance)

• Improved Decision-Making Time (finding information easier and access to SME’s online)

• Improved Productivity Time-Savings (15 to 30-minutes per day for knowledge workers)

• Faster Task Completion through Streamlined Collaboration


This white paper has outlined three specific opportunities for organizations to reduce their TCO numbers for Office 365. Although these are only projected estimates, they do paint a picture of possible savings and viable methods to help control future costs for the long-term management of Office 365. For these cost savings to be achieved, however, they will require the implementation of optimized license management models, in addition to more streamlined, efficient administration activities. They will also necessitate the removal of duplicate, overlapping technologies after Office 365 adoption has been promoted successfully. To facilitate those programs a full-featured, integrated management solution can help drive consistency.

The CoreView solution team is committed to delivering the best, full-featured management capabilities for your Office 365 environment to help you optimize all the associated costs. Let us prove it to you during a free trial.

For more information about the CoreView management solution, visit or e-mail or call 800-436-8183.

4ward, Inc

4ward is an industry leader in management solutions for Office 365. The company was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in the Milan, Italy, with offices in Bolzano, Italy, and North American offices near Philadelphia, PA.

4ward has been awarded the prestigious Microsoft Country Partner of the Year for Italy, 2- years running, plus, the company has been the Cloud OS Partner of the Year for the past 3-years running, and for 5-years running the ALM Western Europe Partner of the Year.

4ward has also earned multiple Microsoft Gold Competencies including Datacenter, Cloud Productivity, Cloud Platform, Communication, Portals & Collaboration.

It listed as a Cool Vendor in Gartner’s 2018 Cool Vendors in Digital Dexterity and AI for the Digital Workspace.

For more information about the CoreView management solution, visit or e-mail or call 800-436-8183.


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