With remote working well and truly part of our new reality, collaboration tools are more important than ever. Using a hodgepodge of legacy software to function optimally at the enterprise level will not do. Sending sensitive files and communicating over unencrypted software is a bad idea.
“There is likely to be an increase in file-sharing via email, do you have collaboration software for your team to use?”
Office 365 has been the flagship office software plan for Microsoft for nearly a decade. Earlier this year, Microsoft decided to change its name from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. It is popular with firms of all sizes and has achieved high rates of adoption. This is because it’s a great product that solves a lot of business problems.
Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder once said,
“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act”.
So, if you have been moved to act and you are trying to figure out the best Microsoft 365 plan for your business, here are some tips:
1. Take stock of what you have
Examine what you currently have. Are all employees using the same office software? Some businesses expand too fast and end up with a number of different applications.
2. Understand Your Needs
Is improved communication your main goal? What about productivity and collaboration? Are you trying to improve security levels? Is this move part of a bigger digital transformation plan? These questions can affect which plan is best for you.
3. Examine your budget
Migrations typically need two budgets. One for the licensing fees and the other is for the actual cost of migration. A good IT support partner can help you with this.
4. Compare and choose plans
Some selections will be obvious. For example, if you have less than 300 users, then the Business plans are the way to go as they cater to smaller firms. If your organization has more than 300 users, then the Enterprise plans are the only way to go.
Here is an explainer of the service families and plans:
Service Family – Business or Enterprise?
The Business Service Family is built for small to medium-sized companies. The Enterprise Service Family is intended for large enterprises.
Microsoft 365 Business Essentials
This is the cheapest Microsoft 365 plan. It includes web-based and mobile versions of Microsoft apps and services. You do not get any desktop versions of popular apps like PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and Outlook. This is an ideal plan for small family businesses with access to internet connectivity.
Microsoft 365 Business
The next level up. It has web-based and downloadable Microsoft desktop apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It has a desktop version of Outlook. A free version of Microsoft Teams is included. This option is perfect for small businesses that need access to the tried and tested core desktop Microsoft apps.
Microsoft 365 Business Premium
This plan offers a good range of all the desktop apps and web services. The email hosting mailbox can accommodate 50 GB and can offer customized company emails. You also have full access to Microsoft Teams. This plan works well for slightly larger companies.
Microsoft 365 Business
This is the top end Microsoft 365 small business plan. It has all the core apps, plus Microsoft Teams. What makes it special is the access to premium-level IT security. Like defense against ransomware and malware attacks.
“If you don’t take action to keep your data secure from unauthorized access, you could face steep fines from compliance issues, not to mention the embarrassment of not being able to protect your organization’s data.”
All Enterprise plans cater to more than 300 users. In fact, user numbers are not capped. E1 offers powerful enterprise versions of Outlook, OneNote, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. You also get access to SharePoint Team sites, video conferencing, and Yammer for enterprise social media.
E3 provides all E1 features plus the extra benefits of rights management, loss prevention, and encryption. This offers top-notch business security and compliance. Small and medium-sized businesses will often choose to buy either the E1 or E3 plans and bolt-on third-party apps to meet cloud security requirements.
If you have a big enough budget, the E5 plan offers a fully-managed range of Microsoft apps. E5 is a full enterprise-level solution with all the standard features. Access to analytics tools, advanced cyber protection, and unified communication solutions are also available.
5. Review later
After you have had a chance to test how your Microsoft 365 plan works for your organization, you can decide if you have made the right decision.
Ask your administrators or your managed IT partner to periodically show you usage statistics to see which apps are working. You could also simply ask your team how they are enjoying the tools. If you need to make changes, this can be done as a separate digital project.
Microsoft 365 plans might seem a little confusing in the beginning. But once you go through the work required to figure out where you are and where you want to be, you can easily choose the best plan for your business.
The beauty of Microsoft 365 plans is that they are flexible. You can always mix and match plans for your users so that you are making the most efficient use of your Microsoft 365 slate of tools.
Author’s Bio: Jeff Penner is a senior manager at ActiveCo Technology Management, an IT support Vancouver company. Jeff has been in the managed services industry since 2015, understanding what business owners are looking for from technology, and helping them find it. The most important element for a business owner taking on a new technology partner is peace of mind and thus Jeff directs his efforts on finding practical information that any leader can apply to their business. Jeff lives in Vancouver, BC, sharing his love for learning and “the great indoors” with his 2 daughters. Stay connected on Twitter.