What Every Business Needs To Know About Office 365

We always strive to put together information that our readers are looking for. And so, even if we don’t actually on-sell Office 365 – but since many large organisations are inquiring about it – we’re just happy to share what we know here. In this post, you’ll learn about the basic features of Office 365, its pros and cons, and the latest changes in its plan model.

What is Office 365?

Contrary to what many people think, Office 365 isn’t just another upgraded version of MS Office. It’s actually way more powerful than that. Office 365 brings together all of the MS Office applications and delivers them under a cloud-based model. But that’s not all. It also adds several other enterprise-class solutions, like:

● online storage
● email
● shareable contacts and calendars
● instant messaging
● HD video conferencing
● enterprise social networking
● and more

Key advantages

Aside from having those enterprise-grade features, one of the biggest advantage of Office 365 is that it’s now become a cloud-based service. This means:

● No more expensive up-front costs – Office 365 is a subscription-based service. Meaning, you only need to pay-as-you-go, mostly on a monthly basis. The monthly rate depends on the plan but (as of this writing) can go as low as $ 5.61 /user/month.
● No more worrying about installations – simply because users can access these services from the Web through a browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome;
● No more worrying about upgrades. This will be done automatically by the folks at Microsoft;
● Anytime, anywhere access to documents – Because documents created on Office365 are stored in the cloud, users will be able to access them anytime, anywhere; as long as there’s an Internet connection;
● You can easily share and edit documents, contacts, and calendars with colleagues online – This can greatly enhance your employees’ collaborative capabilities, especially because changes made to documents virtually happen in real-time.

Considerations

There are of course a few considerations:

● Some plans (like Business Essentials), which only support the online version of Office, are heavily reliant on an Internet connection. That means, you need to have fast, always-available Internet to avoid downtimes.
● Subscription-based pricing may turn out more expensive for certain organisations. If it normally takes you several years before upgrading to a later version of Office, then subscription-based pricing will turn out more expensive for you.
● All your documents, email etc are accessed via the internet. This can be a dramatic shift in how you work day to day. The demands on your internet link are going to increase and businesses should consider whether there current internet link is adequate (speed, download allowance etc).
● Privacy/regulatory issues. If you deal with a lot of sensitive/confidential information and hence want more control over your data, you might not be comfortable with the storage method of certain Office 365 plans, wherein data is stored in the cloud. If you want to know more about disadvantages of cloud solutions, read the article “Is Cloud Computing Right For Your Business”?

Latest changes in Office 365 plans

Recently, Microsoft introduced three new offerings to their Office 365 business plans:

● Office 365 Business Essentials,
● Office 365 Business, and
● Office 365 Business Premium

Targeted at SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), these three plans are basically replacements for the older Small Business, Small Business Premium, and Midsize Business plans.

The major changes include:

● A lower monthly rate of $8.25 (USD) per user for the Office 365 Business. This replaced the Office 365 Small Business Premium, which used to cost $12.50 (USD) per user per month and
● A higher number of supported users (from 25 to 300) for the Business Essentials and Business plans, which replaced the Small Business and Small Business Premium plans respectively

For a complete comparison of all Office 365 plans, contact andersenIT today to assess which is the best option for your business 07 3251 9333.

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