Need a better email solution for your business? Office 365 is the answer. It's used by the majority of SMBs in the world, and it's an excellent fit for even the smallest businesses!
You can watch a short 10-minute video about Office 365 - it doesn't explain the most important benefits but does provide a good overview!
A lot of small businesses start with a free email address, such as Xtra, Yahoo, Gmail, or Outlook. Here is why it's a bad idea.
If you are a bit more tech-savvy, you might already have your company website. Most website hosting companies offer free or low-cost email services, but you get exactly what you pay for...
- Your emails will not sync well between all of your devices
- You can't store contacts and calendar appointments in your email account
- You will have to rely on 3rd party services such as Dropbox and iCloud to store your files online and collaborate with others.
- If your domain ever gets added to a spam list, you won't get much help from your provider.
- You will have limits on how many emails you can send and receive and how many you can store
- When you send and receive emails, there is usually no encryption, so any of the servers between you and your contact can read everything!
The exact way of how your emails work will depend on whether you use POP or IMAP and you can read about it in our article!
Office 365 Pros
Enter Office 365... Based on the foundation of the Exchange server, it's a real enterprise solution. Unlike Exchange, it doesn't require you to have a server, and everything works in Microsoft cloud, making it suitable for even small businesses. Google also offers a similar solution, called GSuite but if you want desktop applications like Outlook, Word, and Excel - GSuite is not for you.
1. Seamless access to Enterprise grade email server from any device. All your sent items, drafts, folders, contacts, and calendar will look exactly the same on computers, web, phones and tablets. When you update a contact on your phone, it will be automatically updated across all your devices. When you send a reply from your tablet, you'll see the sent message on your computer as well. When you chedule a meeting with somebody on your laptop, your phone will notify you when it's time to go!
2. Ability to store files in the cloud – OneDrive for Business – and access them from any device. If you are in a foreign country or don't have your devices with you, you can go to an Internet cafe or library, log in to your account and all your emails, documents, and other business data is there. Even if a disaster destroys your computers, your data is still in the cloud, and you can work from any device.
3. One user license can be used to install offline versions of Microsoft Office suite on several computers belonging to the same user. You can also use basic versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint from the cloud without having to install them. When you use Office 365 for your company, everyone is using the same version, upgrades happen automatically, and the software behaves exactly the same way on all computers.
4. Office 365 has predictable monthly costs. Instead of having to buy an expensive Microsoft Office suite every few years and being able to install it on only one computer, Office 365 is flexible to suit your growing business needs! You can add and remove user licenses easily, change plans, and grow your company without having to pay hundreds of dollars upfront.
5. Plenty of storage. With Office 365, you get 50 GB of cloud storage for your emails. You don't have to worry about archiving or deleting large emails and can keep all of your emails neatly organised in folders. You probably don't want to store all of those emails on your phone, tablet and laptops so you can decide how long you want to sync (from 3 days to everything!) and all other emails are accessible in the cloud.
6. You can keep your business data in the same account. Instead of relying on your legacy emails system and using DropBox, Google Drive, or iCloud, everything can be kept in Office 365.
6. Office 365 allows for seamless collaboration. Your shared company files can be stored in SharePoint and be accessed and edited by anyone who needs them. You can work with others in real time, see what changes others have done and even use company-wide chats, similar to Facebook Messenger! Instead of emailing versions of the same document to each other, you can see what others have done and track the changes.
7. Safety and Security are a priority for Microsoft. With Office 365, you use the same systems that large organisations rely on. You can secure your accounts with multi-factor authentication, making sure that only you have access to your data. You also get powerful spam filtering that scans all of your messages and attachments 24/7. If you ever lose your phone or tablet, you can remotely wipe it to protect your data from anyone who shouldn't see it!
Office 365 Cons
It all sounds good, right? Now, let's discuss some cons... don't worry, there aren't many.
1. If you rely on your data stored in the cloud, you must have an Internet connection, and it better be fast! If you live in a rural area, and a slow service like satellite, dial-up, or ADSL is your only choice, Office 365 is probably not for you.
2. The service is subscription-based - but it comes down to your preference. Would you prefer to spend thousands of dollars on a server and software and use it for several years or would you prefer to pay the monthly or annual fees?
3. Compatibility with your line of business (LOB) applications can be hit and miss. If your applications require a specific version of Microsoft Office (typical with databases and older programs that can send own emails), you probably want to think twice before upgrading.
4. It can be hard to keep up with the changes. Microsoft is continually adding new features and making changes to the User Interface (UI). You will probably have to learn how the new programs operate.
5. Most people would only use less than 20% of the functionality. Office 365 is much more than email service, cloud storage and access to desktop applications - but that's what the majority of users need. It has so many features that it may be intimidating to look at the features you could use!
6. Office 365 plans can be confusing. Retail chains sell Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home, but it's not suitable for businesses! It will only give you the desktop applications, but you won't get the Exchange server or SharePoint.
What we can do for you
We can help you switch your company to Office 365 . We've helped many companies in Nelson and Richmond (and around the World!) to move away from their broken legacy systems to the 21st century and will be happy to do the same for you. We can come to you anywhere in Nelson and around to talk about your needs, your current infrastructure, discuss what works and what doesn't and offer you a solution suitable for your business. When we have a clear picture of what you need, we will prepare a migration plan for your company to avoid downtime and disruption, set up the required user accounts, move your emails, consolidate your files and move them to OneDrive or Sharepoint, configure your company devices and give you training on how to get the best out of Office 365.
Office 365 isn't tough to set up for new business and takes about an hour plus extra hour for each user. If you already have your domain and been using email service from either your ISP, hosting provider, or a competing solution like Google's G Suite, things get a bit trickier as we will also have to migrate your emails and stored files from older accounts to Office 365. However, it rarely takes more than two hours per user.
When it comes to monthly costs, Office 365 is very flexible and grows with your needs. The basic plans that only include email, calendar, and contacts cost $8 per month. If you want to store your files in OneDrive and use SharePoint for collaboration, Skype and Teams for video conferencing and chat, Planner and To-Do to manage your projects and day-to-day activities, the monthly cost goes up to $10 per month. If you also need the desktop versions of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.), you will pay $20 a month. The figures are per user and don't include GST.
Microsoft understands that a typical employee or business person usually have more than one device, so all of the above options allow you to use Office 365 on several devices with no extra fees. Also, if your company has needs for mailboxes shared among several people (for example, email@example.com), those are free, as long as they are used by licensed users!
Give us a call at 03 544 1995!