Gain Insight into the Cost Saving Benefits of Your Lync Solution

Close to 70% of companies that have adopted Lync cannot easily report on savings, which means proving how much cost savings a UC solution brings to the table is difficult.
Here is a high level, 3-step approach to gauge how much money a UC solution, such as Microsoft Lync, is saving for your organization. The focus compares ongoing usage costs instead of initial capital deployment costs. Capital costs for deploying a UC solution need to be considered as well, but are typically driven by budgets and become less significant from a cost savings perspective over the lifetime of a UC solution.
Step 1: Measure
For an on-premises Microsoft Lync deployment, this base requirement equates to knowing feature usage and summary amounts, which are broken down into business segments that make sense for your company over a variety of time frames (i.e. 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, 1 year). For a UC solution being consumed in the cloud, such as Lync Online, on-going subscription costs can be used, but usage will typically still provide a better yardstick for cost comparisons.
Microsoft Lync Server 2013 natively includes a monitoring service, which provides the ability to collect and store Call Detail Records (CDRs). Enabling this feature will configure Lync to record Lync usage across the entire media stack, including peer-to-peer calls and all types of conferencing for all users.
The bigger challenge is making sense of all CDR information captured in the database. Being able to report on how much a feature was used by a user, department, or office with absolute and summary counts over different time frames is a necessary prerequisite to quantify and compare UC costs. Microsoft Lync ships with some native reports, which provide basic shorter-term usage metrics. More in-depth usage reporting and analysis, which are integrated with Active Directory to better understand usage and costs across your business segments, are available from several third parties.
Step 2: Determine Microsoft Lync Costs
Ongoing usage costs for Microsoft Lync must be known – or even approximated –to compare against existing non-UC costs. For example, if a Company spent $200,000 last year on a non-UC audio conferencing solution, we need an approximate cost for Microsoft Lync conference usage where the audio and dial-in features were used.
With access to the usage metrics discussed in the previous step, costs per Lync feature usage such as the per minute cost of a Lync audio conference can be assigned, and total costs can then be calculated and viewed for comparison purposes.
Companies often struggle assigning an initial usage cost (aka charge) for a Lync feature because it is a nebulous combination of costs (such as bandwidth, licensing, and IT staff). A good start is to assign a ballpark cost based on the high-level, ongoing Lync costs, such as the variable costs just mentioned, and then fine-tune it. Seeing the summary cost numbers with these first-cut estimates offers insight and often leads to quick refinement and a better reflection of true cost.
Step 3: Compare Apples-to-Apples
Often the most difficult challenge to gauging UC cost-savings is being able to do an apples-to-apples comparison with existing non-UC cost reports. Although traditional existing cost reports, such as travel expenses, are available in various data sources throughout the organization, they are typically hard-coded for a particular segment of the business (e.g. user or business unit) and only available in summary form for a specific timeframe (e.g. per quarter or last year).
Comparing these costs then requires that our corresponding Lync cost reports are available for the same time frame (e.g. “1 year”), for the same business segment (e.g. “sales department”), and for a Lync feature that is similar to what is being compared to in the existing non-UC report (e.g. “Lync Web conferencing” versus “airfare and lodging costs”).
Cost savings that depend on user behavior, such as a reduction in email usage, are harder to quantify. Even an approximation can provide valuable insight. Many companies have reporting tools for each collaboration platform. Simply trending and comparing the usage change before and after UC features are adopted provide a good yardstick for measuring cost savings in this area. Microsoft Lync reporting solutions that provide data on other platform usage (e.g. email) as well as Lync usage make this challenge easier.

This article excerpt, by Curtis Johnstone, originally appeared here: