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6 min to readPublisher Advisory Services

Continuously optimizing the value of your Microsoft investment

A man with glasses is taking a selfie in front of a mountain.
Tony MackelworthGlobal Leader - Microsoft Advisory Services
Publisher advisory

With significant growth in the adoption of cloud services across every industry, organizations are experiencing increased complexity in their IT environment. This is unfortunate, given most organizations initially invest in cloud solutions to drive more value – but according to Gartner, less than 25 percent of organizations report having a mature strategy for optimizing their licensing spend. That’s a lot of money being left on the table.

However, there is value in these solutions for almost every organization, although locating that value in unfamiliar territory may seem impossible. Think of it as a long hike – not merely a day trip, but a multi-day adventure where you’ll need a map, a dedicated route, and enough resources to last you from start to finish. On a hike like this, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually encounter a boulder blocking your path, get sent off-course by poorly marked trails, or experience unfavorable weather.

In these cases, peeking at your map or trying to connect to your GPS might not provide all the help you need. You need a guide who has walked these trails before and can show you how to adapt and move forward. Otherwise, you could make a judgment call that ends up taking you in the wrong direction – and onto a perilous path. Let’s take a look at challenges with optimizing your Microsoft contracts, and see how partnering with a knowledgeable guide can help.

Impasses are common with cloud investments

Microsoft contracts are typically three years long – and if you went on a hike for three years, you could expect a lot of the world to change during that time. In the context of Microsoft investments, organizational and technological changes will be the most common and significant.

For instance, just think about companies that signed a contract with Microsoft back in 2019. Throughout 2020, their technological and organizational needs fundamentally changed as remote work became the standard, rendering some previous investments less valuable. It’s true that 2020 has been an especially unusual year – but change is inevitable, and the next disruptor is always right around the corner.

Even without drastic change, many organizations eventually experience significant challenges over the course of their Microsoft contract. Here are just a few common challenges that your business might experience while optimizing your Microsoft and cloud investments.

  • Poor return on investment – Microsoft spend may seem ever-increasing, and the benefits may seem to be ever-vanishing. This can be due to numerous factors that are difficult to pin down, causing frustration.
  • Lack of expertise – Many organizations are unfamiliar with intricacies like the publisher incentive model or potential cost savings at your contract‘s anniversary. To compound the issue, a lack of insight into the solution’s total value makes negotiations difficult.
  • License non-compliance – It’s difficult to identify and validate the data and information required to use licenses properly and stay compliant. Additionally, many IT teams don’t allot enough time to prepare for an audit.
  • Unfavorable contract negotiations – Many organizations don’t realize how unfavorable their initial contract was until they realize what contract they could have had. Teams need to understand the long-term effects of their contracts and learn how to best renegotiate them.
  • Lack of unbiased information – Ask Microsoft for help and you’ll get a biased answer, but search online and you’ll find private businesses who want you to download their software. A lack of guidance can make the path forward more unclear than it should be.

These challenges can create gaps that organizations will scramble to patch as soon as possible. However, this often results in unwise technological investments. By partnering with an expert guide, you’ll be able to calmly decide the best way to overcome the challenge – whether it’s reworking your contract during the term or providing your employees with more helpful resources.

Get a guide with Microsoft Managed Services

When you’re traversing unfamiliar terrain, having a guide will ensure you end the journey on a high note. SoftwareOne’s Microsoft Advisory Managed Services can be this guide. We will help you find new value from your Microsoft investment through increased visibility and leading support services, while providing actionable recommendations to help you optimize your current contract.

For instance, we can help you manage all of your Microsoft 365 solutions as well as your Azure deployments by tracking cloud spend, finding areas for potential cost avoidance, and imparting valuable knowledge to help your team learn as they go. We do this through an 11-step process that begins with advisory and ends with ongoing management. Here’s what to expect from our advisory team:

  1. Solution Alignment – We will help your team define opportunities and align your roadmap to fit the Microsoft technology & license stack, ensuring you get only the solutions you need.
  2. User Profiles – We’ll work with you to identify any user technology requirements that should be considered during contract negotiation.
  3. Licensing Options Analysis – We’ll provide a licensing cost analysis, complete with recommendations to ensure your organization understands where and how you’ll be saving.
  4. Pre-Contract Optimization – Next, we will help your team develop an optimum bill of materials and assist with contract design.
  5. Negotiation Support – We’ll help you iron out your negotiation strategy and help ensure your benchmarks are accurate and convincing, giving you the upper hand in contract negotiations.

Next, we will move onto the next phase of the process: Providing managed services for your current Microsoft contract and deployment.

  1. Microsoft 365 Investment Scorecard – In the first step of our managed phase, we’ll help you create a scorecard that ensures you will drive value and cost savings throughout the cloud contract lifecycle.
  2. Cloud Cost Optimization – Next we’ll delve you’re your Azure and Microsoft 365 deployment and optimize spend.
  3. Licensing Helpdesk – Have a tough licensing question? Ask us! We’ll offer you a team of Microsoft specialists to answer any of your licensing questions.
  4. Licensing Updates – We’ll identify opportunities or risks that may come with any future licensing agreements or similar relevant changes.
  5. License Design Advisory – Our managed services team will provide license design and cost impact insights for your upcoming or current IT projects and programs.
  6. Contract Right-Sizing – We’ll help you adjust and optimize your Microsoft contract just in time for your reports and audits.

Through this 11-step process, our team is able to drive value and cost savings from the bottom up, ensuring you’re maximizing the value in your solution and confidently blazing a path forward. If you ever need to make a change in your Microsoft contract or current practices, we’ll find out how to make it happen as soon as possible – and ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

Final thoughts

Embarking on a cloud journey with Microsoft can seem almost as intimidating as hiking Everest. You’ll need to prepare resources ahead of time, map out your journey, and ensure you’re ready for the long haul ahead. This can look like pouring hundreds of hours into research and best practices, or it could be as simple as hiring a Sherpa to show you the way.

A guide can help you get all the help you need for your Microsoft 365 and Azure deployments the first time around and prevent you from turning around in defeat. Don’t spend exorbitant amounts of money on unused resources that will get lost in the shuffle. Instead, trust SoftwareOne to guide and manage your Microsoft contracts – all while keeping your journey to the cloud on track.

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Don’t traverse Microsoft’s solutions alone

Our Microsoft Advisory experts know how to maximize your investments and ensure you’re meeting your goals. Register for our webinar on September 8th to get all the insights you need.

Don’t traverse Microsoft’s solutions alone

Our Microsoft Advisory experts know how to maximize your investments and ensure you’re meeting your goals. Register for our webinar on September 8th to get all the insights you need.


A man with glasses is taking a selfie in front of a mountain.

Tony Mackelworth
Global Leader - Microsoft Advisory Services

Product Manager - FinOps