Why Software Portfolio Management is the Key to a Successful Office 365 Implementation

The rollout of Office 365 will only be successful if companies are familiar with their current software portfolio and implement the added value that Office 365 delivers. Our expert Thino Ullmann provides an overview of the various applications belonging to Office 365 and explains why Software Portfolio Management is the key to the successful introduction of Office 365

An article by Thino Ullmann , Senior Technical Presales Executive at COMPAREX

Thino Ullmann, Sales Executive at COMPAREX

Thino Ullmann

If one considers the software landscape currently encountered in companies, it almost resembles a patchwork of various applications that more or less charts the company’s historical development over time. This begins with decades-old, self-programmed and custom-built solutions and extends to standard programs by different vendors that are used across the company divisions to deal with the same task.

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, that most IT managers feel a bit like zoo wardens when they are asked just to assess the solutions in place. The situation is not much rosier on the financial side, either: a confusion of license agreements with less than ideal purchase terms from a host of vendors place an additional burden on the IT budget. Every vendor solution, or to put it more astutely, every solution pen in this zoo, needs to be maintained and claims its own slice of the IT budget. Ultimately, after all, it is the zoo warden’s job to make sure all the animals are fed – or isn’t it?!

So it will hardly simplify the current or future vendor situation in a company when even more solutions – in this case Office 365 – are up for rollout. Does it have to be this way?

I would like to use this article to address a number of aspects and, among other things, to present possible solutions for the successful rollout of Office 365:

Software Portfolio Management as the basis for future solutions

If we analyze and visualize the confusion of software solutions we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it is easy to arrive at the following conclusion that indeed resembles the zoo and its assortment of pens.

Office 365 Implementation
Fig. 1: Demand of software vs. installed software

The intersecting set of software solutions needed in the company is astonishingly small compared to other areas. This situation is compounded by the fact that software licenses, in the past, were frequently purchased with service agreements that allow the use of the latest software version at all times. But associated with these latest versions comes a continuous accumulation of new features, which means that over the years, the scope of the individual solutions can quickly overlap with other software products. An analysis of this overlap may reveal that different software products address the same needs, without the company ever becoming aware of this fact.

Interim summary

Finding a solution to these challenges is not particularly simple and in most cases will be very elaborate. After all, whom among us actually knows all the functions of the licensed software products used in the company and is in a position to analyze and assess them completely? This is where Software Portfolio Management tools come into play, illuminating these ideas and indicating potential savings that far exceed the initial investment within the framework of a project. The insight acquired in this way is used as the foundation for a successful rollout of Office 365, which I will address in the next section.

Office 365 – more than just a simple Office application

The name “Microsoft Office 365” has caused quite a lot of confusion since its launch many years ago. In the early days I was asked where one can obtain the CD for Office 365, as the term Microsoft Office was always associated with the classic Office Suite. But Office 365 is more than just the standard Microsoft Office (ProPlus) and far more than the individual products and solutions it contains, including Exchange and SharePoint Online. The following overview by Matt Wade illustrates this point convincingly.

Office 365 Implementation
Fig. 2: The periodic table of Office 365 (source: http://icansharepoint.com/ )

This overview is unable to list all Office 365 products and solutions, which is why I will name a few more below, without staking any claim for completeness.

  • Cloud PBX – cloud-based telephone switchboard
  • Cloud PSTN – call plans
  • Meeting Broadcast – live conferences with up to 10,000 participants
  • MfA – multi-factor authentication
  • Secure Score – analyses security of the Office 365 organization
  • Advanced Threat Protection – e-mail protection in real time
  • and many more

Office 365 & Software Portfolio Management

I frequently encounter situations in which users are unaware of the full scope of Office 365 solutions as shown above. So rollout tends to focus on the usual suspects like Office, Exchange and SharePoint Online with OneDrive.

But proceeding in this way simply aggravates the company’s Software Zoo situation. So another product suite is rolled out without conducting any detailed analysis of products – with their data silos – that were purchased at an earlier date and have been in use since then. I’ve put together the various product overlaps in a very rudimentary form in the diagram below – again without making any claim for completeness.

Office 365 Implementation
Fig. 3: Overview of product overlaps

I believe in this regard that a Software Portfolio Management project  should be organized together with rollout of Office 365 components. This way, multiple licenses for one functional area can be avoided or at least reduced. It also ensures

  • Reduction in software costs (e.g. through better purchasing terms, pooling of purchasing terms, pooling of vendors and functions).
  • Reduction in operating costs (e.g. by cutting the number of vendors and therefore the accumulation of maintenance and support contracts).
  • Increase in security level (e.g. by simplifying central implementation and analysis of data protection and security (compliance)).
  • Significant reduction in follow-up applications in the area of patch and interface management, migration workload and staff training.
  • Increase, i.e. simplification, of usability, producing greater acceptance and efficiency among staff members and thus elevating the value added.

Ultimately, when deciding to use or not to use individual Office 365 components, the approach will be to compare best of breed versus best of suite. But this can only be resolved on a case-by-case basis and by benchmarking the software currently in use against the holistic solution provided in Office 365. The diagram by Matt Wade illustrates this Office 365 approach extremely vividly, at least for an initial assessment of the interdependencies.

Office 365 Implementation
Fig. 4: Office 365 approach (source: http://icansharepoint.com/ )

Summary

The area of IT infrastructure, operations and licensing has become extraordinarily complex over the years, as solutions and products are frequently purchased and introduced by employees, departments or regional organizations according to the best of breed method, without keeping the big picture in mind. Rolling out Office 365 can be perceived as an opportunity to transfer individual applications to Office 365 based on clearly defined selection criteria, and hence to bring a little order to the software zoo.

For a long time now, the sum of individual solutions has been far less than the whole. Instead it has produced a zoo inhabited by solutions that bind resources and therefore prevent companies from responding to the rapid and continuous change in business requirements.

Read all facts about how to manage your Software Zoo

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Leipzig, 21.11.2017

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