Published October 26th, 2017 by

May the (sales) Force Be with You … and Not Ruin Your Company’s Budget

With 150 000 customers and partners all over the world, Salesforce is without a doubt the world’s number one CRM platform.

But quality comes at a premium price and Salesforce demands a hefty one indeed. Knowing who uses Salesforce, and when, is necessary to determine how many Salesforce licenses your company really needs. This information will help you to identify saving opportunities and enable you to more accurately forecast growth usage. It will also assist you when performing admin tasks like imports and updates where you need live access to license usage log data.

In cases of multinational organizations working in different time zones, identifying licensing requirements is a real challenge. Going around and asking, “Do you need a Salesforce license?” could prove to be tedious work if you have 3k employees. What a Salesforce administrator needs is a “usage per user” kind of report – one that displays information about who was logged in and when. The next step would be to compare that data against “total user count” to see how many people have Salesforce accounts.

Who’s there?

Imagine a scenario where you’re running an office. You bought 100 desks for your employees. Most of the employees are Millennials, so they show up at work seemingly whenever they want to. There’s a constant commotion: some people are leaving the office while others are just arriving; Tom quit the job because he felt like going out on his own; 2 new salespeople were hired recently. The fact that some desks are empty could mean their occupants are coming to work later but it could also mean no one works at those desks anymore.

As there is a constant turnover of staff, it’s easy to lose track of how many people work in this office and how many desks are really needed. Salesforce licenses are like the desks from the example above, just way more expensive. It seems irresponsible not to know how many people work at the office. So, why would anyone think it’s okay to forego controlling the number of people “showing up” in Salesforce?

A “usage per user” report would make it possible to see who’s using a desk and when, while a “total user count” report would show how many desks are assigned to someone.

But where do we find “usage per user” and “total user count” information? Retrieving user-related data from Salesforce was never an easy task. Suffice to say that 7 long years had to pass before Admins could get a list of all logged in users. Luckily, these days it’s easier to find more details about user activity. Let’s take a closer look at two of the reports that come in handy in our case.

(1) All Active Users

List of all the users who have logged into Salesforce in the past 7 days. If you have a “Manage Internal Users” permission, you can create a custom user report that lists the details of all users’ login attempts. You can also see which users have never logged in. To do that, select the Login Date/Time field, insert an “equals” operator and leave the third value blank.

Spotting users who have never logged in is just a first step. You need also to find those users that were active in the past but are not anymore. Here’s where a second report comes in handy (don’t get confused by the somewhat similar name).

(2) Active Users

List of all the people who have a license assigned. Go to Setup –> Manage Users –> Users –> and view “Active Users”. What you will see is a list of all the people assigned a license.

Now you need to compare “Active Users” (report 2) vs “All Active Users” (report 1). In other words, everyone who has a license vs those people that logged in within the last 7 days. In this way you can spot who was not active despite having a license assigned.

Lack of activity within 7 days is not enough to be sure that an account should be deactivated of course. To create a reliable picture of license usage and spot any patterns, you need to run such comparisons regularly and include historical data.

The easiest way to do this is to export both reports and merge them into a single spreadsheet. It requires some manual work but the possible savings might be worth the effort; chances are you’ll be able to free up a few licenses and send them back to the license pool.

It’s great to delegate

If you don’t feel like digging into the depths of the Salesforce pit by pooling and merging the data on your own, you can use one of the license managers available on the market. Although it is an additional cost, the potential savings are worth it. An additional benefit of using a license manager is that you don’t even need to log in to Salesforce to get access to the reports. In fact, it is easier to share the reports with people without a Salesforce account (e.g. management).

License management software products are sophisticated tools, providing all kinds of metrics and statistics and allowing you to draw a complete picture of how licenses are utilized. They provide answers to questions like, “How many licenses do I have?”, “Do I need to buy a new one?” or “How many accounts can I deactivate?”. They help also in making reliable predictions about the future needs of the company.

…if you have a candidate

Since Salesforce is a cloud-based product it’s a bit harder to monitor and not every license manager is equipped to deal with cloud-based products. It’s worth making sure the tool you choose has this option.

Whether you are using license management software to help you or doing everything on your own, always make sure you start by arming yourself with reliable data. Retrieving the data may require some additional resources but after all it is data that makes the difference and “investment in knowledge pays the best interest”.

If you want to learn more about User Reports and how to deal with inactive users, check out the following threads:

  1. Administrative Reports
  2. Tips & Tricks: Accounts and Opportunities owned by Inactive User Reports
  3. How do I find my licensed users
  4. Reports and dashboards for inactive users

Do you have any other ideas on how to deal with license management for Salesforce? Leave a comment and let us know about it.

Agnieszka Sowińska

Agnieszka Sowińska

Junior Marketing Engineer at X-Formation
Agnieszka's interest in new technologies combined with legal background led her to write about software and business productivity. Recently, she's been discovering the positive correlation between software license management and licensing cost reduction which are the main topics of her reader-friendly articles.
Agnieszka Sowińska

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