Changes to Zoom Basic meeting limits (and why it matters for managing Zoom costs)

Iain McGhee

Iain McGhee

Jul 27 | 6 mins read

Topics: IT Operations, SaaS Optimization, User Engagement, Zoom

Zoom Basic (the free version), which previously allowed small-group meetings of up to 40 minutes, and one-to-one meetings of unlimited duration will now be capped at 40 minutes for all meetings.  If you have a lot of Zoom Basic users, this is likely to have a material impact on your Zoom spend. It’s more important than ever to understand who really needs Zoom Pro*, and to optimize your licenses accordingly.

What are the Zoom licensing changes and why do they matter?

The specific changes we’re talking about here relate to Zoom Basic, which previously allowed small-group meetings of up to 40 minutes, and one-to-one meetings of unlimited duration. As of July 15th 2022, all meetings have been capped at 40 minutes, which clearly isn’t long enough for many business use cases, classes, or other types of meetings. There’s further information on Zoom’s support site.

What this means is that many more users will now require Zoom Pro licenses, which support meetings with more participants, with no time restrictions. However, the extra cost of upgrading users to Zoom Pro could add up to tens of thousands of dollars per year in medium and large organizations – making a blanket upgrade unappealing for most.

How to make the transition

Step 1 - look at historic Zoom engagement data

The first challenge is figuring out which Zoom users should get upgraded preemptively. If you have budget to spare, one option is to just upgrade all users – but who has the IT budget to spare these days?!

The other route is to be more tactical by identifying very active Zoom users and teams currently on the Basic plan, so you can target your first round of upgrades on those users most likely to benefit. You can pull some of this information directly from the Zoom admin console but it’s a bit fragmented, only covering 30 days of logs and also lacking the ‘team’ context needed to see usage patterns. It’s a lot easier to get these insights if you have a SaaS Management Platform in place – here’s what it looks like in Trelica:

Chart showing Zoom user engagement broken out by team / department

Step 2 - automate license optimization

Unfortunately it’s not a ‘set and forget’ solution. Your Zoom costs are going to increase as more people need Pro licenses, so it’s never been more important to ensure ROI on that spend. That means license optimization: i.e., downgrading users who end up not using the features of Zoom Pro.

One the face of it, deciding which users should be downgraded is as simple as identifying users not accessing Zoom frequently and/or not holding meetings over 40 minutes. A good SaaS management platform should be able to tell you that on any given day. A great SaaS management should do a whole lot more…

Auditing Zoom licenses and costs shouldn’t be a one time activity. We need an ongoing process that will continue to apply our optimization criteria to keep costs under control. Trelica uses configurable workflows to automate the process of identifying and downgrading Zoom users that aren’t using the features of their Pro license.

Trelica also accounts for small but important details: blanket deprovisioning of users that don’t seem to need Zoom Pro can result in unfavourable outcomes for the business, such as lost productivity – along with inevitable resentment among certain users towards the IT team. To avoid this we need to factor in the following:

  • Who in the business should have a Zoom Pro license, irrespective of their level of engagement: e.g., the senior management team?
  • Who is new to the business, and only recently active in Zoom so should be in a grace period? 
  • Which Zoom licenses belong to service accounts that need to be running, even if the account isn’t being accessed or hosting meetings?

Step 3 - don’t underestimate the personal touch

Workflows for automated deprovisioning are great, but we need to remember that we’re making decisions that directly impact our colleagues. IT/Business collaboration is what distinguishes a progressive IT strategy from another day in the IT command & control bunker.

It’s important to communicate with users before deprovisioning or downgrading Zoom users (or indeed users of any app). How stringent you are on app usage will come down to what app is in use and what it’s costing you, but in any event it’s highly advisable that you engage with users who will be impacted. At the very least this should be to forewarn users, but in many situations it’s good practice to check that they are OK with the decision, and that nothing is being overlooked when determining if they really need that Zoom Pro license. 

Again, Trelica can help here with Slack notifications or email in workflows to reach out to users. You’re free to define the steps in the workflow, as well as the content of the messages. Often, expressing how end users can help the business save money can be a useful approach for gaining user consent for downgrades to Zoom Basic. We’ve even seen the occasional emoji in these Slack notifications, which is always going to get more of a smile than a ‘if you do not comply in 2 days…’ notification.

Workflow editor including Zoom usage criteria and Slack notifications to inactive users

Get started with Trelica today

Trelica’s SaaS management platform is designed to strike the ideal balance between end-user needs and licensing efficiency. Ranked as an ‘outperformer’ in a recent GigaOm Radar report, we look beyond basic usage information to consider user details and roles, to identify new starters, and to maintain service accounts that need to be active to support a range of other applications and services. 

As an additional benefit, our end-user engagement integrations and workflows ensure that the IT team can gain consent for downgrading as many licenses as possible to Zoom Basic, maximising end-user satisfaction, while still delivering major cost savings for the business. 

To find out more about how Trelica can help optimize your Zoom licensing strategy in a way that is right for both end users and the business, you can request a free trial directly below 👇, or use the ‘book demo’ button above to contact the Trelica team.

*we’ve used ‘Zoom Pro’ as shorthand for the several paid Zoom license plans available without the limitations of Zoom Basic

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