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How to maximize the value of your Microsoft investment

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Chris van der ZwanWestern Europe Business Owner
Publisher advisory

Software Asset Management (SAM) is not just simply counting installed software and comparing it against bought software, at the lowest price. SAM is all about the process, starting with the initial software demand from a user through when it becomes shelf-ware or the investment ends, and ensuring that you’re getting the maximum value from the purchased software. You could buy the most expensive suite at the lowest possible price, but what is the benefit if you don't use it? In fact, it would probably be more cost effective if you only bought what you needed, without any discount.

Negotiating a high discount results in appreciation but doesn't create the best result. Focusing on buying what you actually use and maximizing the value of your investment creates a better outcome.
A man in a gray suit is smiling in front of a desk.

Chris van der Zwan

Business Owner Microsoft Advisory Services

If you don't know exactly what to buy, chances are, you’re buying too much. While the discount may be high, if you purchase software that you don’t use, you're still paying too much. This sounds so straight forward, yet we're still faced with situations where companies have a lot of unused software. Compare it to the purchase of a television. A retailer can give you a high discount if you purchase three televisions - but if you only need one, purchasing three would be a waste of your investment. When you want to save costs or, in other words, prevent costs, you have to know what you need and that requires good insight. I had a joke with a customer during negotiations about the Spice Girls lyric “I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want,” because it's so important to keep your needs in mind instead of going for that high discount.

1. How do you prepare for software purchases?

Start by talking to the business and product owners to understand what technology is actually needed. Does everyone have a need for an Office application? Or is it perfectly fine to work with an online workplace? Does that meet the security (GDPR, ISO, etc.) standards of your organization? Do you own different kinds of the same technology and therefore have to consider the best available package, or are basic functionalities meeting your requirements? Today, more and more organizations are choosing one platform. Does that also work for you? Ensure that you get the right knowledge. Search for people internally or externally who have that knowledge and schedule roadmap sessions. This helps you understand what the technology has to offer and what alternatives are available in the market. Don't forget to share your roadmap and goals so that everyone understands your ambitions and needs. Only then can you ensure that the maximum value from the technology is achieved and that you only invest in what you actually use.

2. Who needs the software?

The second step is thinking in terms of the different personas in your organization. Not everyone has a need for the same technology. Organizations used to purchase the same package for everyone in order to achieve savings from the infrastructure by only rolling out and managing one single package. Today, the infrastructure comes from cloud providers, and we can achieve operational savings from two sides: the infrastructure and the demand of our users.

3. Know what you have installed

The third step in the process is the inventory of the current install base. We discussed earlier that this is not considered Software Asset Management (SAM). That's right, we're not talking about SAM in this article, but about purchasing or renewing software. Ensure that expertise is available to make the correct translation of your inventory. Unfortunately, license models are complex and therefore just counting the number of installed software won't do the trick. With the broadening of cloud technology, new expertise also becomes necessary. Ever thought about compliance with cloud providers? What about smart creative license possibilities in cloud infrastructures such as Reserved Instances, Dev/Test environments, resizing and the use of software licenses on which previous investments have been made?

4. Know your entitlements

The fourth step involves analyzing existing license entitlements. What kind of software are you entitled to and what did you buy in the past? Analyze your current contract and your old contracts. Often enough we find software licenses on the shelf that organizations are not aware of.

Maximize the value of your MAS investment

After the four steps mentioned above, an expert can analyze all data and provide well-informed advice. Advice based on your tempo, your roadmap, your budget, and your needs - "What you really, really, want..." This ensures that the right technology is being purchased for the right user.

The final step is preparation for the negotiation. Set goals, not just for the lowest price, but also from a value perspective, for the relationship with the supplier/partner. If something does not work properly, you’ll want good assistance afterwards. In addition to goals, you need to determine soft and hard requirements. These may be technical requirements that are necessary or license-related restrictions that do not work for your organization. Another aspect is your legal requirements (GDPR, SLA, Data Processing, etc.). This is called the Bill of Materials. Yes, you're reading that correctly - not only the list of software, but the whole demand, is called BOM.

This article was created based on the years of experience advising organizations with their software contracts.

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Start maximizing

If you need support or personalized advice with your Microsoft software and licensing, reach out to us.

Start maximizing

If you need support or personalized advice with your Microsoft software and licensing, reach out to us.


A man in a gray suit is smiling in front of a desk.

Chris van der Zwan
Western Europe Business Owner

Publisher Advisory, Microsoft Advisory Services