Office 365 is used by organisations across the world to boost efficiency and productivity.
It’s a subscription-based suite of tools that can be accessed through a web browser or installed on any compatible device, allowing users to get all sorts of work done on just about any device they happen to be using, wherever they may be located. Start writing a document or compiling a spreadsheet on your PC in the office; check it through on your smart phone; and finalise the edit on your tablet. Office 365 is built to enable a modern workplace for any size of business, with new features introduced regularly to enhance user experience.
Office 365 for Business: The Ultimate guide
Let’s take a closer look at Office 365 for the business or enterprise to find out how it could benefit your organisation.
- What do I get with Office 365?
- How to set up your Office 365 account
- How to manage your Office 365 account
- Common Office 365 Issues
- Migrating to Office 365
What do I get with Office 365?
Office 365 is a powerful and comprehensive suite of services and tools which can help any business, whatever its size, to be more productive. Users are able to access emails, contacts, calendars and use a vast array of applications to improve collaboration and work more effectively. As a cloud-based productivity suite it is subject to regular updates and features from Microsoft so you’re always using the most up-to-date version.
There are three levels to Office 365 from a business perspective. The first is the core Office suite. This provides you with Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Outlook for email and personal information management plus OneNote for gathering your notes and multi-user collaboration. This set of services is incredibly useful to any business, offering the opportunity to replace a disparate set of services that you might be using currently and replacing it with one highly useful set of tools and one cost centre.
The next level of services that Office 365 offers is a more specific set of tools focused on creating a shared workplace. These include:
SharePoint – a web-based collaborative platform that allows you to manage and share content within your business
Skype for Business – an application allowing video and voice conversations via different devices
Microsoft Teams – a unified communications platform that integrates workplace chat, video meetings, file storage and application management that will eventually replace Skype
OneDrive – has storage, sync and share, connecting you to all your work files and documents
Together these tools provide a powerful next step towards increased productivity and collaboration plus an extra competitive edge.
And then there’s a third level which is even more niche - a set of apps that enable even more creativity within the Office 365 suite:
Delve – displays useful information to the user from across Office 365 based on the work they’re doing
Flow – allows the automation of business processes via the creation of workflows and tasks based on certain triggers and actions
Forms – a tool to create surveys and quizzes
Sway – an alternative to PowerPoint that’s designed for creating visually appealing and professional presentations
Office 365 is a product that never stands still and is constantly being refreshed with more features and updates to help the modern business and, because it’s cloud-based, you will always be accessing the latest version. It can be installed on many machines giving you the ability to access a range of Office programs from multiple devices – surely the best option for any large or growing business. And the fact that you’re not having to pay a large cost upfront is a big bonus for having access to many features that you not use at first but might end up finding incredibly useful as your business develops and grows.
All of this is unified under the Office 365 banner with a single login, allowing users to collaborate with other members of their organisation and with other external organisations in a completely joined up manner.
How to Set Up Your Office 365 Account
When you’re ready to move your domain to the business version of Office 365 there are a number of steps to take. You’ll need a list of all the users that you want to add and create a plan for how you’re going to let them all know what their new login details are. If you plan on using Office 365 email then you’ll need to know where your domain is registered and have the sign-on information.
Then it’s a case of migrating your mail, setting up your online services such as Skype for Business, and changing your name servers so your domain provider can start re-routing your email.
There are many benefits to moving to Office 365 including:
- 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage per user
- The latest online versions of Word, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint and Publisher.
- Use of Sway to create interactive reports and presentations.
- Single sign-on and synchronisation with Active Directory for managing users and permissions.
- Guaranteed 5x9s uptime and proactive data monitoring and privacy protection.
If you need help setting up Office 365 we can help. We can help you plan the move and if you don’t want to move all at once we can help you do it gradually. We can also make sure that your migration takes place smoothly – for instance you might experience email downtime so we can help you plan your migration to suit your business. We can also advise on how to move your files to OneDrive storage or to a team site. If you have thousands of files you want to move or you’re short on time, or you need to integrate Office 365 with other software, it is often easier to carry this out with the help of a partner like iomart which has a dedicated team of Microsoft trained UK support staff.
To find out more read our blog about using Office 365 to modernise your workforce.
How to Manage Your Office 365 Account
There are a number of Office 365 subscriptions available for business.
For smaller businesses:
Office 365 Business is best for organisations that need Office applications and cloud storage and sharing. It includes Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and OneDrive storage. It doesn’t include business email.
Office 365 Business Premium is best for those organisations that need business email, Office applications and other business services. It has the same apps as above but also includes Exchange, SharePoint and Teams, allowing you to connect staff in different locations.
Both those business packages have a limit of 300 users whereas for enterprise organisations the packages have no limits:
Office 365 ProPlus is the most basic enterprise package with Office apps Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote plus OneDrive storage. It doesn’t include business email.
As you move up from Enterprise E1 more services are included such as Exchange, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and Stream. Enterprise E3 also includes security and compliance tools such as legal hold and data loss prevention. While with Enterprise E5 you get advanced personal and organisational analytics with MyAnalytics and Power BI Pro included as well as advanced audio conferencing and advanced threat protection.
The enterprise packages are available per user per month but on the basis of an annual commitment.
Deciding on the right subscription for your business is not always straight forward. For instance if you’re not an enterprise you might head towards O365 Business Premium – however the number of extra features available in the Enterprise versions might be worth having if yours is a business that’s planning to expand.
The best way to choose the right plan is to look at the features available, rather than the cost of the plan. If your strategy is about moving more services and tools into the cloud, then the higher tier plans might be your best option as long as you don’t incur unnecessary cost. You can always change your licences at a later date if you need to.
And in terms of security Office 365 supports an integrated approach to user authorisation, with a goal of single sign-on in mind, through the use of cloud-based authentication service Azure Active Directory.
Common Office 365 Issues
While moving to Office 365 can be a major plus for an organisation, there are a number of issues to consider before you decide to make the move.
Microsoft owns Office 365 and hosts it in its own data centres which can only be accessed by Microsoft employees. So if you have an issue with Office 365 then you have to speak to the Microsoft Support team. This can take time. As a Microsoft Gold Partner iomart has access to a higher level of support so we can get answers quicker to any issues that crop up.
When new updates are issued they happen automatically whether you want to accept them or not. As a result a lot of companies look for a hybrid deployment via the desktop so they still have some ownership. iomart can advise on the best hybrid set up.
Just like any other cloud provider Microsoft does occasionally suffer from downtime so performance can be an issue. Even though Microsoft deals with this by giving service credits, if online collaboration is a must for your business, you should have a backup option just in case.
Microsoft continues to invest heavily in security. To avoid security issues it’s important to monitor your deployments via the security center to check any suspicious behaviours and monitor your users. iomart has a team of dedicated Microsoft engineers ready to help.
Most of the services and apps in Office 365 are compliant with the main international industry and data regulations but not all of them are. Iomart can check these for you to ensure you are meeting the necessary requirements.
It’s not always easy to customise the apps in O365 for your organisation and updates brought in by Microsoft can often impact any existing customisations that have been made.
How to use Office 365 effectively can be a challenge because of the number of apps and services that are available that your business might never have used before. Migrating to Office 365 is moving your organisation to a different way of thinking so it’s important that your users are on board with it. You may need third party assistance to train staff in the new features and keep them updated on how to make efficient use of them. iomart’s dedicated Office 365 team can help you get the most out of your Office 365 deployment.
Migrating to Office 365
Migrating your email from on-premises Exchange to Office 365 can end up being a daunting and time-consuming business. As a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider iomart can manage this for you.
Moving to Office 365 is not something you do successfully without forethought and preparation. Stability, corruption, network, downtime, security and compliance – all of these can be issues.
iomart has extensive experience helping businesses move to Office 365. We help you build a migration plan, get your users on board and provide ongoing support.
We work with you to plan for a seamless migration.
Our Office 365 expertise and simplified migration tools means we can help you select the right plan for your business; ensure the migration takes place as smoothly as possible; and provide ongoing management of the service for you.
Call us on 0800 040 7228 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how your organisation can enjoy the benefits of Office 365 with the support and cloud expertise of iomart.