What is Microsoft Office 365 for Business?

4th February 2016

Office 365 logo

Microsoft Office 365 is an online subscription-based service for business productivity software and communications (a consumer version is also available). Being a cloud service means its features are available everywhere to people using a mobile device or tablet, an internet-connected PC or Mac, or a web browser.

Office 365 Business Plans

Microsoft like giving organisations options and covering all the different plans is beyond the scope of this article. Instead we'll focus on the Office 365 Business plans that are best suited for SMEs and sole traders.

  • 50GB Exchange email
  • Fully installed Office 2016, on 5 devices
  • Mobile & tablet Office apps
  • Online versions of Office
  • 1TB cloud storage
  • Skype for Business
  • Corporate social network (Yammer)

£93.60 /user/year or £9.40 /user/month

  • 50GB Exchange email
  • Fully installed Office 2016, on 5 devices
  • Mobile & tablet Office apps
  • Online versions of Office
  • 1TB cloud storage
  • Skype for Business
  • Corporate social network (Yammer)

£84 /user/year or £8.50 /user/month

  • 50GB Exchange email
  • Fully installed Office 2016, on 5 devices
  • Mobile & tablet Office apps
  • Online versions of Office
  • 1TB cloud storage
  • Skype for Business
  • Corporate social network (Yammer)

£37.20 /user/year or £3.70 /user/month

What's included?

Office 365 Business package features. We indicate which package includes each feature in brackets.

Every user has 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage. All documents are safely stored online for anywhere access. (All packages)

Windows PCs and Mac users can install Office on up to 5 computers. (Business Premium, Business)

Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote on your mobile or tablet. Available for iPhones, iPads, Windows, and Android devices. (Business Premium, Business)

Full online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, accessed through any modern web browser. (All packages)

Full Exchange Online email service. Including contact address book, and calendar functions. (Business Premium, Business Essentials)

Hold instant HD video and audio meetings no matter where people are with Skype for Business.(Business Premium, Business Essentials)

Collaborate across departments and boundaries using a familiar social-style Yammer interface. (Business Premium, Business Essentials)

Get instant answers to questions, direct from the most qualified people in the organisation with secure Instant Messaging. (Business Premium, Business Essentials)

What are the benefits of Office 365?

As Office 365 includes a wide range of services, its benefits are similarly wide-ranging:

As Office 365 is a cloud-based solution, it means users can work from anywhere using either an internet browser, or using dedicated apps (if the package includes this).

Businesses save money as they don't need to have in-house servers to run their programmes and the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining this infrastructure.

Using Office 365 users can communicate with each other, collaborate easily on documents, and easily share folders and files. Perfect for groups working on projects.

Business Premium and Essentials packages both include a standard 50GB Exchange Online mailbox, which is larger than most in-house or third-party email hosting services offer, and gives enough storage for most users.

All Office 365 services on Microsoft servers. Providing the highest level of security, reliability, and bandwidth.

Microsoft are committed to keeping Office 365 the industry-leading communication and productivity platform. Regular service updates and the constant addition of new features mean customers get increasing value for money and keep ahead of competitors.

Data encryption, mobile device management, and a simple-to-use admin panel give users tools to keep the organisation's valuable information safe.

Is Office 365 right for me?

Switching to Office 365 means moving to a subscription-based pricing for software licensing and communication services. Whether this is right for an organisation rests not just on a straight cost comparison but also on the business needs and goals.

Broadly, Office 365 is an ideal solutions for organisations which:

With Office 365 the Office apps are always the latest version and automatically update in the future. Everyone has the same version of Office so there are no problems with file compatibility.

Everything a start-up needs is included with Office 365 Business Premium, making it quick and easy to get a company off the ground. If desktop versions of Office aren't important, Office 365 Essentials would also fulfil most new businesses' needs.

Multi-site organisations benefit from the cloud nature of Office 365. Web access to emails, calendars, document storage, Office apps, and video conferencing.

With Office available on 5 PCs for each user and email, contacts, and calendars available on their mobiles it's easy for organisations to use Office 365 as a driver of flexible working patterns.

Email, online meetings, instant messaging, social collaboration. Office 365 opens up new communication methods, helping individuals discuss business matters in the most suitable way.

Office 365 provides powerful, but simple to use admin tools for managing cloud services. Giving IT staff more time to work on other pressing matters.

What are the downsides of Office 365?

Every business is different, and even Office 365's wide range of features may not make it suitable in some situations:

Microsoft store data in their nearest available data centre to the customer's head office location. For UK customers this means Ireland, or mainland Europe. Organisations that need their data to be 100% in the UK won't be able to use Office 365.

Organisations which buy Office 365 direct from Microsoft find themselves relying mostly on the community forums for support, or using an email-only ticketing system. Buying Office 365 from SMS avoids this problem as we provide free 24/7 support independent from Microsoft.

For most organisations subscription-based pricing is a benefit. It moves expenditure from CapEX to OpEX and makes budgeting simpler. One downside is any services supplied via subscription stops working as soon as the service is cancelled. This is a step-change from the traditional 'buy software and it runs forever' model most businesses have operated.

Office 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium both support a maximum of 300 users per customer. Businesses with larger employee counts should look at the Office 365 Enterprise plans. Please contact us to find out more.

What can SMS offer you?

If you're looking to change your mailbox to a Office 365 subscription, how can you benefit from purchasing directly from SMS?

All our packages come with free 24/7 support, 365 days a year. This means that if you do encounter any issues or have any specific questions about your subscription or the software, you can either call (normal business hours) or email our UK based support team, who are on hand to help with your enquiries. Our average wait time for support calls is under 1 minute, so you can be assured that your question will be answered promptly, instead of wasting your valuable time stuck on hold.

We provide assistance with on-boarding when moving over to Office 365. Our team can help you understand what is involved in transferring and can have a plan in place to ensure a smooth transition and mitigate any business disturbances.

Email migration is optional when you move over to Office 365 with SMS. If you choose this option, we ensure your existing email data is successfully transferred to your Office 365 account, so you have peace of mind that a Microsoft Gold Partner with 10 years experience in email hosting is handling your data migration. This is free if you are subscribing to 20+ users on your new Office 365 account, and just £10 per mailbox otherwise.

As well as offering an annual subscription with a 17% discount, you can also choose to subscribe to Office 365 packages on a monthly rolling basis, allowing you to cancel users with just 30 days notification. This gives you flexibility if business needs change.

We offer a free, no obligation 30 day free trial of Office 365 Business Premium so you can see first hand whether it would suit your needs. View our Office 365 trial page to find out more.

More information

Microsoft Office 365 plans offer a complete cloud-hosted business service. The wide variety of plans available can lead to confusion on which is best, which is why this article focused only on the Office 365 Business packages. Anyone still unsure about Office 365 should see our Office 365 Business plans page to compare the features of each.

SMS offer a free 30 day trial of our Office 365 Business Premium package, allowing you to directly experience the benefits first hand. Please contact us if you have any questions and our sales team will be happy to help.

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