Office-365 user activity view updated

Blog Post created by thomas.sautelle3 Employee on Feb 2, 2018

In Snow License Manager 8.1.0., we released a new pane that shows what Snow refers to as user activity for Microsoft Office 365 subscription plans. Given the customer feedback we have received, it seems we may have over complicated the way we presented this information, so in the upcoming release of Snow License Manager – version 8.2.5 – we have updated the pane so that it provides clear starting points for license reharvesting and subscription plan optimization. This post explains the changes we have made, and how to best use the information provided.


As I mentioned in a previous post Understanding the Office 365 user activity view, the purpose of the user activity view is to identify opportunities for harvesting and optimizing Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions based on the usage information provided by the Office portal for your organization – and that still holds. But, we hope that both the information we have chosen to present and the way it is displayed in the updated version will help you to identify cost saving opportunities more readily.


One of the first changes we made was to the data shown under total users, which as you might expect reflects the total number of unique users assigned with an Office-365 subscription – not the total number of subscriptions.


Changes in terminology

Figure 2: Microsoft Office 365 – Total users for E3 plan


The biggest change, however, is to our terminology, which we have been able to improve by digging deeper into the information provided by the Microsoft portal. We have categorized users into either: no activity or active within the last n number of days, where n = 7, 30, 90, 180, or 365. The definition of no activity remains the same, meaning that a license has been assigned to a user who has never opened any of the applications included in their subscription plan. Note that users that are not linked will show up in a separate list.


We have also modified the definition of activity to mean use of any application within the user’s subscription plan.

The number of days parameter is based on the most recent import of Microsoft Office 365 data. Users shown as active in the last 7 days, means users that have opened at least one of the applications included in their subscription within the 7 days prior to the most recent import. To ensure this information is clear, the timestamp of the most recent data import is shown in the bottom right-hand corner of the main Microsoft Office 365 menu.


What counts as activity?

Figure 3: Microsoft Office 365 – Application Usage


Activity depends on the applications included in the subscription plan. For example, E3 includes Skype for Business, Exchange Online, and the ProPlus Suite, which includes installed versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive for Business, OneNote, Publisher (PC only), and Access (PC only). So, those users assigned to an E3 plan, who open any of these applications within the last 7 days (of the most recent data import) will count as active.


Total users - All users

As shown in Figure 1, we have simplified the total users overview tab so that it provides a visual summary of Microsoft Office plans showing the name of the Microsoft Office-365 subscription purchased, how many users have been assigned a license, and a bar-graph representing the activity of these users, grouped into last 7, 30, 90, 180, and 365 days, as well as no activity (shown in gray).

Figure 4:  Activity bar graph


The purpose of this view is to highlight potential starting points for subscription reharvesting and optimization. A well-optimized estate will show most users as active within the last 7-30 days (indicated by the first two bars of the graph – reading left-to-right).


For most volume licensing agreements, a subscription can be reharvested (assigned to another user) after 90 days of assigning it, although there are some exceptions to this rule-of-thumb. The other bars of the activity graph show the potential for reharvesting.  


For subscription plans where activity data is either not available or doesn’t make sense, the Activity column shows Not Applicable N/A. Primarily, this applies to subscriptions that do not include the applications for which usage information is available, such as EMS E3. Exchange online archive can be added to an E3, and PSTN calling, for example, currently tracking information is unavailable.


To reduce the amount of information, content can be filtered on the Active last column. For example, to identify candidates for reharvesting, filtering on More than 365 days ago will show the users that have not used their subscription in over a year.


Total users - Not linked users

For Snow License Manager (SLM) to show information about subscription assignments, what plan users are on, and how much they have used their Office-365 applications, a connection needs to be made between a user’s identity in Office-365 and in SLM. This connection cannot always be made automatically by SLM because of the way the systems involved identify users.


When the connection cannot be made automatically, the user shows up in SLM in the Not linked users list. More details are available in one of my previous posts: What is user linking for Office-365 and how to manually link users in SLM.

We have also added links to linked users, so that when you have identified a user who may be a candidate for subscription harvesting or optimization, you can click the link directly to the view for that user, where you can investigate further. As indicated in Figure 2, linked users are identified by their domain\username pair which has the visual appearance of a weblink.


Try it out

To summarize, I would advise you to first ensure that your users are linked, and then just play around with the information, filter it, and get a feeling for user activity and the potential candidates for rehavesting. Start with some of the obvious users, like those who are showing no activity and those who haven’t been active for more than a year. I’d love to hear what you have to say about the new presentation, so please leave a comment below.