Microsoft Enterprise Agreement Renewal Guide: From Preparation to Execution 

Introduction to the Enterprise Agreement Roadmap Guide   

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement has evolved and with it the terms and conditions for which an organization can purchase and use Microsoft’s software products and cloud services. Enterprise Agreement keeps changing day by day with updates, and this requires understanding in order to know what an organization needs to resolve these challenges. 

Organizations require change in terms of IT solutions as the years go by and the agreements currently in use may have to be relooked at during renewal conversations with the vendor. But how strategically an organization situates itself to take advantage of every opportunity to optimize its software investments can be challenging. There is an opportunity presented for optimizing software & cloud services and when this happens, how well is the organization’s renewal team positioned to see these?   

Your organization’s roadmap in terms of IT infrastructure should look at enhancing operational efficiency and align with Microsoft’s latest offerings. This write-up outlines key considerations, how to optimize and carry out a successful renewal plan.   

Overview of Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) is a contract program designed for large organizations from 500 users.  Under this agreement, companies can purchase multiple Microsoft software products & cloud services at a discounted cost on a long-term duration or period.    

EA supports large organizations purchasing numerous software licenses across multiple devices and users. With this agreement, organizations are able to consolidate their software purchases under a single agreement, allowing for streamline and procurement processes to reduce administrative overheads. One other benefit of the EA is the flexibility it offers for flexible payment.   

Importance of strategic Enterprise Agreement renewal planning 

Enterprise agreement renewal planning should be a continuum from when your organization purchases and is using Microsoft products and services. Note that doing this strategically will help with the continuous leveraging of the benefits of your existing Enterprise Agreement. Also when this is done well, you get to ensure that any future agreements align with your long-term strategic objectives and roadmap.   

Planning your strategic renewal involves analyzing the current agreement’s terms and conditions, determining whether they are still suitable for the organization, and negotiating more favorable terms and conditions. 

How does your Enterprise Agreement renewal roadmap look? 

Conduct a comprehensive review of your organization’s software usage, license inventory, and business needs. This is done to identify areas where your organization may be underutilizing software licenses or if there may be over-licensing.   

Starting the process as soon as possible   

Don’t wait for Microsoft to initiate the first move. Get your team aligned and your strategy in place at least 15 months before renewal. Together with your team which will not only include IT but also the business, procurement and finance. Create a comprehensive plan for the Enterprise Agreement renewal process.   

The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement Roadmap has six phases. We will go through these phases of the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement roadmap process.   

Phase 1: Analyze your EA Assets – Do your Internal Audit  

In everything you do, you need to know your current situation. In this case you have to know your Enterprise Agreement assets. Will you go to a battle without knowing your forces?  A five-star general will not do that. Understand what you have and its real-world value to your business. Asset analysis can provide a detailed understanding of what is currently being used, what is not, and what may be needed to maintain the required licensing agreements. Overspending is around the corner when it comes to Microsoft software and services. Underestimating the importance of asset analysis during a Microsoft EA renewal can lead to overspending, over-licensing or under-licensing. Analyzing your assets, identifies any wasteful spending and reduce IT costs by scaling back on unused cloud services or unnecessary software products or subscriptions. 

Financial Clarity   

Budget surprises are a no-go area. Know your financial limits upfront and align them with your stakeholders. Also going to the vendor to start the renewal conversation, your team is aware of spending limits, how to prioritize if any additional offers are made by the vendor and what the spending cap is. 

Phase 2: Optimize before you Sign, Don’t Overspend on your EA  

From Visio, SQL to Microsoft 365 to other Microsoft products, there’s always room to trim some fat. Find the unused software and cloud services before you sign your new contract. This is the first point of savings you can create in the Enterprise Agreement renewal process.   

Optimizing your licensing to ensure maximum value for your investment should be approached in various ways. An adopted software monitoring and tracking can be implemented to know if software licenses purchased are well used.  Also experts can be invited to guide the entire planning process and recommend various ways to optimize licensing. Always seek to identify optimization opportunities such as downgrading unused licenses or consolidating licensing for multiple products.   

Lead the renewal 

Influencing and guiding the process should be considered whether you’re the decision-maker or not. Don’t let Microsoft dictate the pace.    

Leading the renewal process enables your organization to see and have a clear understanding of the offers put on the table. You are also able to go to the vendor with prepared and specific things you want done. Whatever offer is presented to you, you are able to make informed decisions since the entire renewal process was first initiated by your team.   

Phase 3: Your Roadmap

What products are you going to use in the next contract period? Speak to all internal stakeholders and departments about the different products they really need and how they are going to use them. Which products do we need in our next contract period? Plans should be put in place to make sure the products deliver the expected solutions and offer value for money.

There is also a need to engage in product and service selection as part of putting your roadmap together. You may want to engage an independent licensing expert to help with the selection process. Your organization should consider if you need productivity tools, server solutions or collaboration tools as well as databases.  

Your roadmap should also consider the licensing models that align with your organization’s usage patterns, and budget and if opting for cloud-based solutions or traditional on-premises is the way to go. Make the decision at this stage.  

With your roadmap, consider the benefits of scalability, flexibility and cost-effectiveness with the choices you make. Also remember to plan for renewal cycles and understand the terms of your subscription to stay compliant. 

Phase 4: The Scenarios  

Which contract & license scenarios fit best based on your roadmap? Microsoft will show you 1 or 2 scenarios. From our experience there are more scenarios possible. Work them out. Let us help. We know how to do it.   

What a scenario does is that it gives you room to put a reality tag to the plans and projections you have made. As an organization, you get the opportunity to see how feasible your plans are and how other organizations have worked things out to optimize and save.  

We have worked with a number of organizations and in every case, we solve the problems which has given us a storehouse of know-how. The solutions we offer are tried and tested and not on an experimental basis. 

Phase 5: The LSP Selection  

Are you happy with your current LSP? Oh yes, we are not an LSP. We are an independent Microsoft Enterprise Agreement consultancy firm. We help you to choose the best LSP that can deliver the products. We don’t deliver and sell software. The Microsoft partners are positioned to do that but are your interests foremost in their activities? Do you get that feeling when you interact with them? So far, with their guidance, are you getting value for money?  

LSPs work to get commissions on sale and more rebates when they push you to the cloud. At every move, they look at how best they can fill their commission bucket. That’s not to say your interest is not paramount to them.   

As part of the work we have done over the years, we have the checklist for what to consider when selecting an LSP. We will make that available to you when you engage our experts to assist you make the right selection to get the right license and optimization leading to savings.  

Phase 6: The Contract Negotiations

After analysing, optimization and choosing the right products with the right licensing structure, it’s time to finalize the bill of materials for the negotiation.   

At this stage, it is essential to carefully examine the agreement terms and conditions as presented by the vendor. Cross check what you have with the initial optimization strategies your team put together and see if your plan is on course. Perhaps there may be a few license terms you want your vendor to reconsider. Ensure that what you agree on will promote a seamless continuity of operations and obtain maximum value from the agreement. The renewal offers settled on should sit well with your organization’s roadmap also.   

A look at the renewal roadmap    

You would want to sit down with your team to review how to plan the pre, renewal and post conversation with your vendor. There is a need to take notes on past success rates, if any, to implement going forward as renewal will soon commence again provided you continue using Microsoft products and services.  It’s a cycle.  

Your team needs to understand to what extent the renewal plan will be well carried out. You need to start preparation on time in order not to miss anything on and during the renewal. Did team members understand what is expected to be achieved and what license optimization steps to implement?   

Also make a conscious effort to explore cost-saving opportunities and bring in experts.What an expert brings to the table is years of experience and the ability to see areas you may miss.   

Your strategy is important to the whole renewal move. You need a holistic approach to execute successfully the renewal process.  

What our experts at Q-Advise offer

We have worked over the years on various renewal conversations with Microsoft and bring to bear success in planning, implementation, execution and future projections.We will guide your asset analysis to inform your planning, negotiation for desired pricing and licensing terms no matter how high the volume purchases you are embarking on are.   

Your identification of software usage trends and patterns can be a good avenue to leverage on for optimization and we know how to go about this to save significant costs. We will share tools with you to assist monitor your cloud usage and identify various areas of optimization across your IT estate.

Contact our team and let’s start the preparation immediately.    

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