Microsoft Office 365 can be an incredibly useful and convenient tool for enhancing productivity and collaboration throughout your company. Employees with Office 365 business licenses can freely access a suite of software such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams when they need them. Moreover, with 365 Business, employees can collaborate securely by leveraging Teams’ built-in encryption features and live online document editing and conferencing solutions.

However, there are some challenges for managing Microsoft Office 365 licenses—especially in a growing organization with fluctuating needs. For example, Office 365 licenses are billed up-front yearly. This does two things:

  1. It creates a large initial cost to add software licenses for your entire organization.
  2. It reduces the flexibility of your Office 365 license management—if you remove employees, the licenses you acquired for them will be wasted, and adding new employees becomes more expensive.

One of the most frequently asked Microsoft licensing questions we hear is: “How can I improve my Office 365 license management?” To this, we reply: “Have you considered switching your Office 365 licenses to a Microsoft CSP program partner?”

Taking advantage of the services of a Microsoft cloud solution provider (CSP) program partner can help you enhance the scalability of your Office 365 software, improve your insights into your information security, and have access to support to get more out of your Office 365 subscriptions.

What is the Microsoft CSP Program?

The Microsoft CSP program is a type of indirect reseller program for Microsoft partners to sell licenses for MS’ cloud-based solutions (such as Azure, Office 365, and Dynamics 365). These program partners handle the licenses for you, instead of having you manage them yourself.

For example, Protected Trust is a Microsoft CSP program partner that can either set up new licenses for you or take over your existing licenses.

Why Would I Want to Use a Microsoft CSP Program Partner?

Here’s the million-dollar question: “Why would I go through a third party for my Office 365 license management instead of just buying it directly from Microsoft?” Some reasons to use a Microsoft CSP program partner instead of buying direct include:

Spreading Out the Cost of 365 Subscriptions

When you buy Office 365 licenses directly from Microsoft, you have to pay for the entire year up front for each license. On a Microsoft Office 365 Business license, that’s $240 per license ($20/mo. x 12 months). If you’re acquiring licenses for 100 employees, that’s $24,000 in overhead hitting all at once.

This can break the budget for that month—leading to cost overruns and severe cash flow disruptions that only get worse the larger the organization is. By switching your licenses to a Microsoft CSP program partner, you can pay month-to-month instead of having to pay the whole year up front. This helps to spread out the cost of the software subscription so that its impact on your cash flow is a twelfth of what it would be.

Providing Enhanced Scalability for Office 365 License Management

Another benefit of paying month-to-month with a Microsoft CSP program partner instead of paying upfront with Microsoft directly is that you only have to pay for the 365 licenses that you’re actually using.

For example, say you need 300 Microsoft Office 365 licenses in January because you have 300 employees on the payroll who require access to the Office software suite. However, in March, you end up letting go of 30 of those employees for various reasons (overstaffed for seasonal workload, performance not up to par, etc.). With the “pay up front” model, you’d be wasting $6,000 worth of Office 365 subscription time (30 employees times ten months of unused subscription time at $20/month).

While this probably won’t break the bank, it may discourage you from hiring employees on a seasonal basis, which can lead to other problems.

When you pay month-to-month, you can drop or add Office 365 licenses as you need them—virtually eliminating monetary waste on software licensing.

Getting Access to Cloud Solution Provider-Specific Resources

Microsoft provides their CSPs with exclusive resources such as software asset management (SAM) solutions. These resources help Microsoft CSP partners provide their customers (i.e. you) with deeper insights into their data and analytics. This, in turn, can help you make more informed decisions regarding your software.

Of particular interest is the ability to obtain an objective scoring of your organization’s data security practices on Microsoft Office 365.

Receiving Help Assessing and Analyzing Your Microsoft Secure Score

If your organization uses Office 365 Enterprise, Microsoft 365 Business, or Business Premium, you can (with the right permissions) access your organization’s Secure Score. Microsoft defines their Secure Score as a tool that “analyzes your organization’s security based on your regular activities and security settings in Office 365, and assigns a score.”

Microsoft’s Secure Score tool determines which Office 365 tools your organization is using and how it’s using them to compare them to security best practices. However, many organizations don’t leverage the Secure Score tool at all—if they even know about it in the first place!

Using a Microsoft CSP program partner can help your organization be more aware of potential security issues because a cloud solution provider (like Protected Trust) can track and interpret the data for you and provide a report. Or, they can provide training in how to use the Secure Score tool so you can analyze the reports yourself.

Consistently checking and making changes based on your organization’s Microsoft Secure Score can help you limit your exposure to risks such as data loss or data breaches—though it won’t stop everything.

Shifting your Microsoft Office 365 license management to a CSP program partner is an excellent way to save money and time while still enjoying all of the benefits of using Office 365. Are you ready to get more out of your Microsoft Office 365 licenses? Reach out to Protected Trust today!

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