Person managing Microsoft licenses and true-ups

Microsoft Office 365 License Management Tips

Microsoft Office 365 License Management Tips

2021-06-04 05:45:20 — 5 min read

Count and count well.


This might be the tactic used when manually managing a small number of Microsoft 365 licenses. But what happens when CSPs are working on true-ups for large-scale enterprises? Cue accuracy issues and unhappy customers.


One in five employees use an Office 365 service. With over 200 million monthly active users, it's no surprise MSPs struggle to tame the license management beast. Unless processes are in tip-top shape and you have a team of service desk superstars, support tickets and license true-ups can fall through the cracks. Imagine being the CIO of a small company questioning why $2,000 was wasted on unassigned Microsoft 365 licenses last month. There are true-up lessons that can be learnt by all.


What is a license true up?

A true-up is an evaluation of the qualified licenses CSPs assign to users. A key concept in Microsoft 365 license management is that subscriptions and users are separate items. It’s common for discrepancies to exist between the number of employees and licenses, which is why CSPs need to ‘true up’ licenses.


Why is a true-up important?

According to studies, 56% of organization’s Microsoft 365 licenses are mismanaged, and 27% of E5 licenses are unassigned. On top of this CSPs also juggle inactive licenses and those sitting at a higher tier than necessary. Companies rely on their CSPs to manage their IT ecosystem efficiently, therefore these statistics show there is room for improvement at license true-up time.


The common true-up challenges

Unmanaged licences can lead to huge, snowballing challenges for CSPs and customer across the following areas:


  • Help desk teams capacity
    A users license is an extremely important part of an employees day-to-day. But it’s management is often low on a CSPs priority list due to other pressing urgencies.If time isn’t spent correctly allocating Microsoft 365 licenses, true-ups sessions will be slower with more time needed to correct inaccuracies. But it’s a challenge to focus on these tasks when CSPs have long to-do lists and other growing customer requests.


  • Incorrect customer costs
    Inactive, unassigned or underutilized licenses will result in customers paying for licenses they no longer need or aren’t using to their full potential. Not ideal.When managed correctly, organizations can have faith their CSP is in control of their license planning and say goodbye to unnecessary overheads. But linking back to the earlier point, if the service desk hasn’t had the capacity for this, customers will likely be digging deep into their financial pockets.


  • Customer access
    Technically not a challenge. Actually, giving customers control of license management is a blessing. But their access could lead to challenges if managed incorrectly.

    1. If users select from long lists of Microsoft licenses, will they know what they really need?
    2. Or might their selection end up being underutilized? Many CSPs think customer access automatically solves a lot of their problems. But if permissions aren’t set, true-ups and management gets challenging.
    3. The lack of supportive tools


The MSP Insights Report claims that 81% of MSPs business processes have not been fully automated.CSPs often face roadblocks when having to manually manage frequently changing licenses and users. Which is understandable when you have huge enterprise customers and tenant numbers, with the use of little or no smart technology support.This shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet. An accurate license true-up is essential to keep customers from straying to competitors who have tools in place which allow then for a stronger license management. So it might be time to assess your software.


Licence management and true-ups can be made easier

There are smart ways to make sure clients aren’t paying for Microsoft 365 licenses they’re not using and ensure the user is correctly matched to said license. When in place, CSPs can breathe a sigh of relief when client true-up obligations are summonsed, knowing that they can showcase licence results efficiently.


Learn how to successfully manage a license true-up in our quick to read guide