Microsoft Office 365 is undeniably popular – but no technology is perfect. Despite what you may be told through various forms of marketing, any given tech has its share of pros and cons. When it comes to choosing one for your business, you should ask the hard questions, so you know what you’re dealing with.
Thinking about Microsoft Office 365?
Microsoft Office 365 has been wildly popular since it first hit the market.
But you already know that, right? After all, who working in the business world today hasn’t heard of Microsoft?
Even more important to consider – should you just assume Microsoft’s solutions are the right choice for you, just because they’re a household name?
When it comes to investing in technology for your business, you shouldn’t take anything for granted.
Before you decide to migrate your entire business to a new cloud platform, make sure you ask the right questions…
1. Is it actually secure?
Security and availability are the two main concerns where business data is concerned, which historically has made users wary of trusting the cloud.
When it comes to Office 365, this is one worry you can cross off your list. Microsoft’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution may be hosted on a public cloud, but security and reliability are the primary focus of their engineers.
Designed around the principals of the Security Development Lifecycle, Microsoft has made embedding best practice security requirements in everything they create a mandatory part of their software development process.
Data security and industry compliance requirements have been taken into consideration, influencing the safeguards Microsoft has in place.
Using Azure Active Directory, Office 365 has built-in security features including authentication tools, access control, and identity management in addition to their own top-notch network and system security.
Taking full advantage of the flexibility the cloud offers, Office 365 allows for smooth collaboration and anywhere access to needed data. Working remotely is a simple and secure process, and a low monthly subscription fee makes adding or dropping users easy.
2. What happens to your existing Microsoft Office 365 data?
If you’ve already been using Microsoft products, why start from scratch?
Migrating your existing Microsoft data to Office 365 is possible, but you should be aware that it’s not always an easy process. There a few things that can create road bumps along the way.
For example, templates you’ve been using for years might not be compatible with Office 365, leaving you to either rebuild them or figure out to convert them to a new format. Aside from potential complications, ensuring that nothing gets missed or lost during the migration requires close supervision of the entire process.
While none of these complications should be considered deal breakers, they do make a very strong argument for turning to professionals for help instead of tackling this project on your own.
3. Are you paying too much?
The difference in cost between maintaining an on-premise solution and the cost of an SaaS solution is reason enough on its own to seriously consider Office 365. However, the actual cost of Office 356 will vary depending on key factors.
These factors include the number of employees you have on staff, what your needs are, and what your future goals are. While Office 365 is a flexible and scalable solution, you’ll want to be sure you’re paying for what you actually need to begin with.
The following list breaks down the many primary plan types offered for Microsoft Office 365, what they include, and how much they cost.
For each plan, these prices refer to a per-user basis, per month. To figure out what it would cost you, simply count the number of users you need to add from your business, and you’ve got your monthly cost – that’s easy to compare against your IT budget.
ProPlus – $16.00 per user per month
In addition to Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access (PC only), Publisher (PC only) and OneDrive (1TB storage), this plan includes:
- Web-based and desktop versions of the above Microsoft applications
- Skype for Business client (service not included)
- Licenses for an unlimited number of users
Enterprise E3 – $26.60 per user per month
Including all the applications, services and features of ProPlus, this plan also provides:
- File storage and collaboration with OneDrive and SharePoint
- Additional apps and services listed under the Premium suite above, such as Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and Stream (providing users with the ability to stream video to team members and other contacts)
- Email hosting with 100GB of inbox storage and custom email domains
- Unlimited personal cloud storage
- Online video conferencing for up to 250 attendees
- Online meetings for up to 10,000 attendees through Skype Meeting Broadcast or Microsoft Teams live
Business Essentials – $6.40 per user per month
An even more business-focused plan, this offering includes:
- Mobile installation of Office apps (up to 5 devices per user)
- Outlook email (50 GB of inbox storage per user and sent messages up to 150MB)
- OneDrive for Business (1 TB of cloud storage per user)
- Microsoft Teams
- HD video conferencing
- Yammer collaboration software
- Office online (browser-based suite of Office apps)
- Planner (project management platform that allows staff to plan projects, assign tasks, share files and communicate)
- Microsoft Flow (workflow automation app that allows users to automatically configure notifications, sync files, collect data without having to code the process)
- PowerApps (app development platform that allows users to build business-specific web and mobile apps)
Business Premium – $16.00 per user per month
In addition to the complete desktop and online Office 365 suite of applications (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, OneNote, Access [PC only], Publisher [PC only], Sharepoint, and OneDrive), this plan offer includes:
- Business management and CRM tools – Outlook Customer Manager, Bookings, Invoicing and MileIQ
- The range of online services offered in lower-tier plans like ProPlus and Business Essentials
Business – $11.00 per user per month
As the most commonly recommended plan for businesses, Microsoft Office 365 Business includes everything Business Premium has to offer, plus:
- Enhanced security features such as attachment scanning and link checking for email, Information Protection Policies that add controls over how info is accessed, and data backup features that keep your information accessible
- Device management features, fully integrated with iOS, Android and Windows, that allow for simple deployment and management of Windows on your mobile platforms
Microsoft makes it easy to decide which of their subscription packages is right for you by breaking down what each package offers and what it can support.
4. Does Microsoft Office 365 have a good enough data backup solution?
There are data backup options available directly through Office 365 to help protect you against data loss. Whether you choose to make use of these options will depend on the needs of your business and the systems you already have in place.
As a cloud-based platform, all of the data you access in Office 365 is backed up to a secure off-site location. This occurs simply by the nature of a cloud solution like Office 365. That being said, Microsoft’s first priority when it comes to management is most certainly the Office 365 infrastructure as well as maintenance of uptime on the user end.
If anything, this is more about exploring your role in data management. The reality, whether you like it or not, is that Microsoft has empowered you to take responsibility for your data.
Beyond the usual data loss and integrity protections that are provided as a part of Microsoft Office 365, you may need to double check the controls and other parameters involved with protecting your data.
If you do decide to use an Office 365 data backup, you’ll still want to make sure you have a secondary data backup solution in place.
A good cybersecurity solution includes a primary and secondary data backup to ensure that should something go wrong with one backup, there is still another to restore from. A non-Microsoft affiliated cloud platform or an on-premise server are recommended options for a secondary data backup solution.
The big question – is Microsoft Office 365 right for you?
Possibly – but there are no guarantees, at least not when speaking this generally.
Depending on what you do for business, how large your organization is, what your budget will allow, and a number of other factors, Microsoft Office 365 may not be the right choice.
What’s important is that you don’t rush into using something like this without doing your homework, and without being sure that it won’t expose you to unnecessary risks.
Like this blog? Check out the following blogs on Microsoft Office 365 to learn more: