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13 Sep 2017

Once you understand what plans are on offer for Office 365, it is important to consider how you will manage your users and licences. We explain some of the details and provide a case study to help understand different plan configurations to suit your needs.

Read our previous posts on these here:

Decoding Office 365 Pricing - Personal & Business

Decoding Office 365 Pricing - Enterprise, Education & Not for Profit


Licence Management

Traditionally a company would hold a companywide or enterprise licence that would cover an application or service with a set cost irrespective of staff turnover.

Management of licences now is a little more important, you do not want to be a position where you are paying for 100 licences but only using 80 at any given time. This difference could be due to staff reduction or the seasonal nature of your business which shows spikes in staffing during certain months.

First it is important to understand that a licence is not user specific. When a licence is purchased, you are simply adding to a pool. You can have an unlimited amount of users created in your Office 365 account, but those users cannot use any services until they have been assigned a corresponding licence.

What this means is if you are a seasonal business, it would make more sense to purchase annual licences for year round staff at the discounted rate and monthly licences for the seasonal employees. Monthly licences are a slightly more expensive but can be cancelled at anytime with no penalty.

As for those annual licences that have a penalty for cancelling, you don't necessarily need to cancel these either. If you know someone is going to be replacing the leaving staff member, it could work out financially beneficial to leave the licence unassigned until the new staff member commences. If it takes a few months to get another staff member, than the monthly cost could potentially outweigh the cancellation fee.

As you can see licensing can be a complicated subject to work around and having the wrong setup or balance could end up costing you. It pays to speak with the experts before making any commitments. Contact us - we can help you build the most effective licensing structure. 

We’ve provided case studies to help explain how to maximise licences by considering how the users will utilise the various licences on offer based on their individual needs.


Case Study

Company 1 has a head office of 20 people with another 30 people on the road around the country. The decision has been made to move to Office 365, this will be a major migration including moving their phone system from a legacy 4-line ISDN connection to a Cloud PBX.

When assessing what plan would best meet the use case, Office 365 Enterprise E5 was determined to be the best fit to satisfy their telephony requirements.

The E5 plan provides all the business applications and infrastructure they require plus the Enterprise Voice capabilities of Skype for Business Cloud PBX. The monthly commitment for 50 users would be around $2,585* (50 users x $51.70 per user per month).

What Company 1 should take into consideration is that Microsoft has offered the ability to mix and match plans based on the individual user’s requirements. The staff based at head office will require the full suite of applications, but the 30 staff members on the road will not have any need for enterprise dialling or PowerApps. Their use of the system will primarily be via their mobile devices with basic access to documents, team sites and emails. Calling will be through their work provided mobile phones rather than through Skype. These users may require nothing more than a Business Essentials subscription for $7.04* per month.

So instead of 50 Enterprise E5 licences you may end up with a combination of services, for example:

  • 20 Enterprise E5
  • 30 Business Essentials

Using this approach, they have reduced the cost from $2,585 per month to $1,245.20 per month!

Now let's take Company 1 again. Assume they have used a combination of services/subscriptions to best suit their needs and save money. Let see if we can save even more whilst still providing all the functionality required by the users!

20 users have E5 licences, out of those 20 users maybe only 3 users require advanced analytics and the ability to create streaming content, etc. for the company. The other 17 users will use the normal desktop line of products and collaborative environment of tools like SharePoint and Yammer, but they still do require enterprise voice to make and receive calls.

As a result, the 17 users do not need all the functionality offered in the Enterprise E5 licence, they only require the voice capabilities. Therefore, we can use a Business Premium Plan for $17.49*/mth to provide all the required software and features for these 17 users and then add the Enterprise Voice capabilities with Skype for Business Cloud PBX at $10.20*/mth totalling $27.69* per user per month. This saves the organisation $24.01 per user, per month!


Instead of purchasing the E5 plan for all 50 users:

  • 3 x Enterprise E5 @ $51.70 user/mth
  • 17 x Business Premium + Skype for Business Cloud PBX @ $27.69 user/mth
  • 30 x Business Essentials @ $7.04 user/mth

This results in $837.03 per month in comparison to $2,585 by just choosing a one size fits all approach!


Interested in migrating to Office 365? Contact us today to discuss your licensing structure.


*Prices quoted are sourced from and are accurate as at 22/08/17. These prices are subject to change and it is advised that you visit for the most accurate pricing.


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