Importance of Auditing and Reporting your Office 365 Environment – Part 2

In part 1, we covered the importance of auditing and documenting your Office 365 environment as well as what and how to audit your Office 365 environment after your migration. Taking a full inventory about how your office 365 is configured and organized should give you a good starting point to move forward with your Office 365 management.

In this post we will see how to understand the usage of your Office 365 by your users. Office 365 usage and analytical reports give you insights on how to better control and manage your users and their data in office 365.

Office 365 Management Reports

Dashboard Summary for Office 365

A Dashboard summary gives you a summary of important reports that you would like to see. It is only a summary – offering just enough information for you to decide if anything warrants attention. A quick glance at the reports tells you if any action must be taken if something doesn’t look right. For example, if you have the top 5 or 10 mailbox sizes reported in your dashboard and if a few of them are growing out of control you can alert the users or take other actions bring these mailbox sizes under control. While you review mailbox sizes, it is important to note that the Microsoft has increased the size limits for mailboxes across plans and some of your earlier assumptions may not be valid.

Here is a TechNet article covering the various Exchange online limits:

Nevertheless, the idea of keeping an eye on mailbox sizes may be a good administrative habit and will continue to be relevant. For example, if you have shared mail boxes that receive a lot of incoming mails (say, when you have a single shared mailbox for Customer Support), it may still be worthwhile to monitor the mailbox size. (The limit for a Shared mailbox is 50 GB. That’s quite substantial, that too given that shared mailboxes are free!)

Similarly you can have other important summary reports on mail traffic, number of users and groups, new mobile devices that have been added etc. A review of your dashboard summary report is the best way to start your day with office 365 management.

Reporting on Office 365 Users

As an administrator you need to be on top of all new users/groups that have been provisioned as well as Inactive users and Deleted users. This gives you the ability to plan for your resources and take actions for compliance and governance. As part of provisioning you need to keep an eye what license rights have been provided or need to be provisioned (more on this in the next section). As part of De-provisioning activities you need to take actions as per the governance policies of your organization, such as archiving their mailboxes and one drive content. Another issue in large organizations is the issue of not knowing when users actually move out of the organization. It will be great to run a report on a weekly or monthly basis to see the last logon dates of users. If Office 365 admins see users not logged on for some time, they can contact the line managers to know if they have left the organization and take appropriate action on their mailbox and content.

Office 365 License reporting and management

Your organization purchases Office 365 licenses on a subscription basis under different plans offered by Microsoft. Putting these licenses to proper use and reducing costs is what any CIO will be looking into painstakingly. Employees may come and leave, change departments or get promoted. All these require licenses to be assigned, removed, purchased or recycled for optimal use. The Office 365 services an employee needs may also keep changing based on the projects the employee is working on. In short, proper Office 365 license management tool is a must in any organization in order to make licensing efficient and effective and save on licensing costs. You must have the ability assign, remove and recycle office 365 licenses with full audit trail in order to have complete control of Office 365 license usage within the organization. You should be able to view reports based on the types of licenses assigned to employees or get a count of each license type used within the company or just get a list of employees and their assigned licenses. You must be able to provision or de-provision Office 365 user licenses in bulk. Having an Office 365 license management process in place with proper tools can result in significant savings in Office 365 annual licensing costs.

Office 365 Administration Roles

If you have a fairly large organization with multiple departments, you will most likely need to assign several users for Office 365 Administration roles. These roles let you delegate administrative functions such as license management and password resets to certain users within the organization. All delegated roles must be assigned or removed with proper audit trail allowing you track when changes were made. These Office 365 Administration roles also need to be audited regularly to verify if the assigned users and roles continue to be valid (for example, an assigned user may have left the organization). From a security control standpoint Office 365 administration roles assigned to users require constant attention and you need reports on changes made to these roles.