Thanks to modern innovations like mobile devices and cloud computing, business colleagues can collaborate on project files across great distances. You could have a work team spread out across the country or overseas working on the same documents with input from various contributors being made around the clock. When everything is done on a cloud server, the document is safe from loss, damage or theft and is always available to authorized parties from any location with Internet access.
The most advanced set of services in this regard are in the Office 365 series by Microsoft.
What Is Office 365 for Business?
Office 365 is a subscription service that combines cloud storage, business-class email and the latest versions of Microsoft Office suite. The latest upgrades to Microsoft programs are integrated into each level of the Office 365 service, which synchronizes to each new generation of Windows. Updates usually occur every six months.
1. Security Features
Office 365 offers safety features that protect data on all fronts, including the following:
- Encrypted email: This ensures that mail is only read by authorized personnel, namely senders and recipients.
- Data loss prevention: This blocks the spread of sensitive personal info, such as social security numbers.
- Mobile device management: A lot of people refrain from doing business on mobile phones out of fear that such activity could result in data leaks. With Office 365, lost or stolen mobile phones can be remotely wiped and locked out of the cloud so no one can gain unauthorized access to your company’s files.
- Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA): Office 365 prevents viruses before they arrive with ATA, which scans email attachments for possible malware. If something potentially malignant is detected, the attachment is removed from the email. The recipient still receives the email, but with a message stating why the attachment has been removed. ATA is key to the prevention of viruses and data breaches.
These and other features keep companies safe from data loss, security leaks and viruses. However, not all of the programs above are available in all versions of Office 365. Take note of the security features most crucial for your company and make sure everyone on your staff has a version of 365 with the necessary features.
2. Administrative Features
B2B versions of Office 365 feature a management dashboard where a company administrator can manage user licenses, security elements and program features across a company network.
3. Azure Active Directory Admin Center
All business subscriptions of Office 365 include an Azure Active Directory account, which administrators can use to manage company teams and establish connections with third parties.
4. OneDrive for Business
All Office 365 accounts include one terabyte of OneDrive storage space, allowing users to store thousands upon thousands of documents and files. On Enterprise levels of Office 365, an administrator can bump users up to limitless storage if data exceeds one terabyte.
Which Office 365 Plan Is Right for Your Business?
Office 365 is available in B2B and personal-use versions. However, individuals who freelance for other companies often get the personal version and use it for private as well as business use. Office 365 fees accumulate on a per-user, per-month basis and can either be paid monthly or annually, though the latter option is generally the more economical in the long run. The three basic Office 365 Business tiers each support up to 300 users. So what does Office 365 Business include?
1. Office 365 Business Essentials
For small businesses and startups, the most practical choice is Office 365 Business Essentials, which costs only $5 per month for each user. With Business Essentials, you get access to various Windows business programs, including Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams.
2. Office 365 Business
Office 365 Business is in some ways the next level up from Business Essentials, offering a host of Microsoft business applications not available with the other version of 365, such as Excel, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Word. However, 365 Business does not include Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams. Unlike the other levels of 365, Business does not offer custom email domains or the 50GB mailbox. Office 365 Business is $8.25 a month and supports as many as 300 users.
3. Office 365 Business Premium
Office 365 Business Premium is the highest service level, offering all the programs and features of the two other levels, as well as Microsoft Bookings, Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Invoicing, Microsoft Listings, MileIQ and Outlook Customer Manager. Office 365 Business Premium is $12.50 per month for each user and is generally recommended for established businesses with large computing infrastructures. The expanded features of Business Premium are beyond the needs of most smaller companies.
For larger companies, four Enterprise plans offer advanced features for an unlimited number of users:
- Office 365 ProPlus is a $12 per month plan that features OneDrive for Business and the Microsoft desktop apps but excludes Exchange Online email.
- Office 365 Enterprise E1 includes online Office apps but excludes desktop versions. At $8 per month for each user, this plan is ideal for companies that wish to remain with certain Office versions yet also have cloud storage.
- Office 365 Enterprise E3 includes all of the online and desktop apps for $20 per user, per month. This level is popular with major organizations. From a legal standpoint, the advanced email security features of Enterprise E3 are good for companies that deal with sensitive data.
- Office 365 Enterprise E5 includes the highest level security and eDiscovery features at $35 per month for each user.
4. Mix and Match Plans
The different levels of Office 365 can be mixed among staff within the same company. If certain people on your team need fewer features than others, those people could use one of the more economical plans and still interact on documents with the rest of the team. Each person can upgrade or downgrade year-to-year, season-to-season, depending on current needs.
Setting up Office 365 for Your Business
The dashboard console requires considerable skill to manage, and some elements can only be controlled with PowerShell commands. Regardless of the size of your business, it is essential to have a qualified Office 365 administrator, either in-house or outsourced, who can handle the management and configuration tasks.
1. Keep up With Changing Features
Office 365 upgrades regularly. As such, users need to keep up with these changes. For some people, this can be confusing if they do not pay attention to these changes. While these upgrades rarely alter the functionality of programs in any major sort of way, they sometimes do, and you could be caught off guard if you are not prepared for a scheduled upgrade and return to find a radically overhauled program.
2. Note Which Features You Actually Use
Not everyone uses Office 365 to its full capacity. Most users only use about a fifth of the overall features offered at a given level. While this is generally a benign issue, it might be useful to do an annual inventory of what you do and do not use on Office 365. Depending on the size and scope of your business, you might find that all the features you do use are also available at a more economical level. Alternately, you might discover that certain people on your team do not need some of the more complex features used by other colleagues and could, therefore, save money by switching to a lower level.
3. Store Local Copies of Current Projects
With Office 365, files are accessed online and edited remotely from wherever you happen to be connected to the Internet. Consequently, you will not be able to access your files when your connection is down unless you have local copies of the files. Therefore, you will need to have a consistent, reliable Internet connection to make Office 365 work for you regularly.
Benefits of Using Office 365
Cloud computing is one of the best ways for businesses to work on projects and collaborate because of the safety and convenience that remote, secure services offer to all organizations, large and small. With cloud computing, all files are backed up, and system updates are always made on the server’s end. The benefits of Office 365 can be broken down as follows:
1. Backed-up Files
With data storage, local backup is never truly safe. Even if you back your data up on multiple redundancy drives, it could still be lost if a fire or flood swept through your place of operation. The only way to guarantee the safety of your data is with a cloud service like Office 365. Users can access their data from anywhere, even if a local emergency has turned your headquarters to rubble.
2. Secure Data
In the past, businesses were wary of cloud storage due to fears of hacking. Those problems are a complete non-issue with Office 365, which keeps data protected from hackers and leaks. With Office 365, only you and other authorized personnel can view your company’s data.
3. Accessible From Any Location at Any Hour
Office 365 makes it possible to access your files virtually from any location, be it the office, home or any other setting. On days when you are snowed in and cannot commute to the office, you could log in to your account and access your files from the comfort of your living room. If you are out of town or on a business trip, you could access your files from a café or hotel room on a smartphone or laptop.
4. Coordination and Organization
Whenever you need to contact work colleagues, it can be difficult to coordinate different means of contact unless you have a program that will synchronize each method of communication. On Office 365, each new contact on your mobile phone will be updated to your other devices and vice versa.
5. Manageable Monthly Costs
For smaller businesses, one of the most crippling aspects of overhead is the inflexible, high-rate contracts that services often impose on their customers. With Office 365, you can scale up or scale down according to your current needs. There is no lock-in contract with Office 365, which lets you pay for the amount of service that you need during any given month. If you are just starting up, you could choose a plan that would best suit a small number of contacts, then add more as your business grows. Depending on seasonal business trends, you could scale back or increase contacts for select periods of time.
6. Near-Limitless Mail Storage
One of the more troubling aspects of virtual space management is the amount of room that email can take up on your company server. If you are like most people, you might not even know that your inbox is full until you receive a popup message stating that it is time to clean out your inbox. You can forget about these popups with Office 365 because it provides 50GB of email storage, an amount you are unlikely to ever fill to capacity.
7. Licensing Made Easy
When you run a company with multiple colleagues, it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page in terms of licensing, particularly when up to three different versions of Windows are being used among staff. With Office 365, these issues are put to rest because the service accepts all licensing and can, therefore, be implemented across your company.
8. Efficient Collaboration
When companies engage in collaborative work on the same documents, updates can be confusing and cumbersome if colleagues are making contributions from different locations throughout the day. For example, if you send a document as an attachment to a team of 10 co-workers, you could have a case where 10 modified documents must then be edited into one. With Office 365, all such confusion is eliminated because each document is updated live, in real-time, with each authorized modification. If you need to revert to an older version of the document, you can because each version is saved.
9. Regular Updates and Synchronization
Computer upgrades are often difficult for companies, especially when the machines involved have different capacities, some of which might not be compatible with the latest Windows. With Office 365, the upgrade issues that often plague computer departments are removed from the equation because the latest Windows versions are automatically installed at the server’s end. Regardless of what device you or one of your co-workers uses to access the cloud, the Windows version will be up-to-date.
Contact PCS for Office 365 Set up and Support
Whether you run a small upstart business or a large company, cloud computing could transform the way that your staff collaborates on assignments and completes team projects. With Office 365, your company’s files will always be backed up and accessible among licensed users from any location. To get the most out of Office 365, you should always have IT services, consulting and support at your disposal. Contact PCS for Office 365 set up and support.