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Getting started with Salesforce licensing

Getting started with Salesforce licensing


Getting started with Salesforce licensing. Salesforce is considered by many to be the originator of SaaS (Software as a Service) licensing and, as such, becoming under-licensed isn’t the primary concern for SAM & ITAM professionals – rather, it’s becoming over-licensed.

One of the significant challenges in managing Salesforce licenses is ensuring that you have a complete overview of users and their licenses – of various sorts. Without this overview, it can be hard to know which licenses are costing you more than is needed, which you can reclaim and reassign, and which you can offload during your next contract negotiations.
This is all made more difficult by the fact that Salesforce is often purchased by individual business units such as Sales, Marketing, HR etc., rather than via central IT procurement. A lack of central oversight can lead to orphaned licenses, out of control costs, and a weakened negotiating position.

Recommendations for getting started with Salesforce licensing

Profile management

This is key to ensuring your Salesforce licensing remains under control. Users with the same licenses may need different levels of access to certain parts – for example, some users may need read, edit, and delete access but others just read and edit. Rather than having a different user license for each of these scenarios, you can modify access using profiles and permission sets. Having clear guidelines will help you keep the number of different profiles as low as possible and with it, the chance for confusion and over-licensing.

There are several other things you can do to reduce your Salesforce costs including:

  • Monitor for unused licenses among your user base
  • Get a complete overview of your user count v license count
  • Know how many orgs you have
  • Monitor storage costs

Monitor for unused licenses among your user base

Every time a user moves between departments, changes roles, or leaves your organisation – there is an opportunity to become incorrectly licensed:

  • Do they need a new license for their new role, or is their existing license sufficient?
  • Perhaps their existing license is now more than they need? If so, be sure to bring it back into the pool to prevent another expensive license being purchased for no reason.
  • Whether it’s because they’ve moved role or left the business, ensure a user’s old license is taken back into the central pool to be re-used in the future.

Get a complete overview of your user count v license count

Following on from the above, it’s key – particularly coming up to negotiations and renewals – that you know how many users you have and what licenses they need vs what licenses they have.

Know how many orgs you have

Some companies have more than one Salesforce Org so make sure you know the total number and have visibility of the licenses and users for each of them. If you don’t, you may well be surprised come renewal time!

Monitor storage costs

There are two types of storage with Salesforce – file storage and data storage. If you need more storage than the standard allowance, you can purchase additional capacity from Salesforce. As this is an ongoing subscription license, your storage costs can quickly become as large (or bigger) than your licensing costs!
Take some time to understand the types of storage that Salesforce provide, and the amounts available to you based on your licensing profile. If you’re paying for additional capacity, the first question must be “is it necessary?” – work internally to find who owns the storage and identify what can be moved to cheaper storage outside of Salesforce.


While your chances of being audited by Salesforce are slim, there’s a much higher chance that you’re spending more than you need to. Be it through de-centralised purchasing, profile sprawl, orphaned licenses when people have moved around, and/or additional storage charges – there are plenty of ways to reduce your Salesforce spend.

To learn more about getting started with Salesforce licensing– the different editions, license types, profiles, storage limits and more:

Download our latest whitepaper

in conjunction with USU here (free registration required).

About Rich Gibbons

Rich has been in the world of IT and software licensing since 2003, having been a software sales manager for a VAR, a Microsoft licensing endorsed trainer, and now an ITAM analyst looking at software licensing and cloud.

A Northerner renowned for his shirts, Rich is a big Hip-Hop head, and loves travel, football in general (specifically MUFC), baseball, Marvel, and reading as many books as possible. Finding ways to combine all of these with ITAM & software licensing is always fun!

Connect with Rich on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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