Office 365: Balancing Costs and Benefits

Many of the discussions revolving around moving e-mail, instant messaging, and Share Point workloads to Office 365 revolve around issues of functionality, reliability, and licensing costs.  A key part of your Office 365 planning effort should also be a full evaluation of not just hard costs, but full measures of new feature benefits, and cost avoidance to see the true return of your Office 365 solution.

Hard Costs

An Office 365 deployment is often easier to budget than a traditional deployment of Exchange, Lync, or Share Point.  At a high level:

  1. Identify the Office features you want to deploy
  2. Select the plan level(s) that provide the features
  3. Work with your reseller to determine per-seat costing
  4. Multiply by 12 to arrive at your yearly cost.

Additional elements of hard costs usually apply however, including Office 365 design and migration planning, 3rd party migration tools, and data network changes to support your newly “stretched” collaboration environment.

New Feature Benefits

Many of the Office 365 ROI models include the benefits of the new features of Office 365 compared to a legacy collaboration environment.  Objectively quantifying these benefits can certainly be problematic from a hard $$$ perspective.  Many environments, however, running on older e-mail/collaboration platforms will derive productivity benefits from “normal” features of Office 365.  Additionally, the newest features of the Office family, including Delve and Groups, are currently available only on Office 365.

Cost Avoidance

The “glass half-full” reader could look at this section as additional benefits, but I like to view them as costs our clients were going to incur, but are able to avoid due to the functionality now being provided by Office 365.  These include easily calculated costs such as hardware, software licenses, and service costs.  Other costs less easily compared but still important include data center hosting, and costs of services provided by 3rd party utilities (message hygiene, backups, many others) now provided by Office 365.

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