Cetrus Blog

Benefits of Ranking Users for License Optimization

Posted by Erik Hoogerhuis on Aug 23, 2017 7:52:36 PM

Every year at renewal time, the question “How many licenses do I need?” drives the beginning of a frustrating data gathering process. For metered applications, the simple answer is to determine how your peak number of users compares to your number of licenses.  The reality is that (especially for firms consolidating licenses, using application suites, using several similar versions, or with expensive engineering applications) calculating an optimal answer is much more complicated. 

Ranking as a Variable

Finding the optimal license answer is difficult because of the many variables that must be considered. For this post, we’ll just cover user ranking as one significant licensing consideration. Listed below are a few questions which should be asked to determine optimal licensing.

Vendor licensing variables (and their operational impact) include:

  • Does my provider offer one or more licensing options? (e.g., metered, standalone, multiple seats per license)
  • If multiple options are available, what are the cut-offs (price per user or seat, number of users, use levels, etc.) which would me look at signing up for multiple license types?
  • How can I ensure compliance with multiple options?

Application use variables include:

  • Who are the users?
  • Can I rank use from heaviest to lightest?
  • What use data can I capture?
  • How granular is the use data?
  • Can I capture use data for existing multiple license or deployment types?
  • What metrics should I employ for use ranking?

We have found that a few of the most common metrics needed to address the above use questions are per application:

  • User rank by the number of individual sessions
  • User rank by the average active session duration
  • User rank by total active session duration
  • User rank by the number of unused license duration

Here’s an example:  

One of our architecture/design customers has several hundred users and wanted to reduce their total number of licenses of an application suite. By offering the full suite to only those users who needed the multi-application functionality and providing a lower cost application, they felt it would meet the needs of the majority of users. The firm already had the lower cost/functionality application in-house. For this customer, use ranking helped answer the following questions:

  • Which suite users should get the lower-cost solution?
  • What did the ranking “curve” look like, e.g., were there obvious breaks in use levels?
  • Which users were using multiple applications within the suite?
  • Which users used both the suite and the lower cost application?
  • Which users were outliers compared to their peers?
  • Which users were in the use “gray area” to warrant a conversation about need?

The customer saved tens of thousands of dollars in subscription/support costs because they could rank and compare use of the two applications on a per user basis. In addition, the customer felt significantly more confident in their licensing decision for two key reasons:

  1. They were able to identify the user subset where need was unclear.
  2. They had actual use data to counter requests by users who wanted to keep the suite but hadn’t been using it, or had access to other, lower cost solutions. In the past, the customer would have erred by buying unnecessary suite licenses.


Having accurate and granular application data that allows use ranking makes the license review and renewal process much easier. Analyst have a consistent set of metrics for comparing the cost of each licensing option. The result is informed decision-making on which applications, licenses, suites/collections, etc., to buy and how many of each to renew, alter, or terminate.


Would you like to be able to be able to improve the quality of your licensing decisions?  Click here to get your copy of our Top 5 Application Use Questions Report, or here for a Process Meter Overview.

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