It’s easy to fall behind on your organization’s technology, especially if you’re a small business. 

Unfortunately, the marketplace usually isn’t very forgiving. While your hardware ages, the technology you need to support your customers and maintain a productive workforce keeps advancing.

Ultimately, you end up with computers and tech that can’t meet the demands of the newest applications, limiting your efficiency and potentially leading to unhappy customers.

To solve this problem, many small businesses are turning to Microsoft Office 365.

Finding a powerful, robust solution that doesn’t disrupt your business’s current workflow is a challenge, but for many organizations, Microsoft’s offering fits the bill.

Office 365 can help your business: 

  • Enhance communication
  • Easily manage remote work
  • Get immediate access to the latest versions of Microsoft programs
  • Protect your organization’s information
  • Cut costs

In this guide, we’ll take a deep look at what you can expect to get out of a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, how it can help you grow your business and, if you’re interested in making the switch, what next steps you should take.

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What Exactly is Office 365?

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud-based suite of popular applications like Word, Excel and PowerPoint combined with Microsoft’s existing online services (such as OneDrive and SharePoint) and security tools — all within a single subscription.

Microsoft applications are incredibly useful, but they can take a toll on your computers. Many small businesses can’t afford to consistently update their hardware to meet the demands of the desktop versions of these apps, which due to their size can bring work to a crawl.

See for Yourself

 

 

This demo of Microsoft Office 365 for business gives a good glimpse of what you can expect with your package.

In addition, many organizations are using obsolete operating systems that aren’t compatible with the newest versions of Microsoft’s applications. But with Office 365, the included apps work with older operating systems, easing the burden placed on your computer.

Office 365 comes with the full suite of Office web applications, but it also offers much more.

Your organization will receive access to:

  • SharePoint Online, used for document sharing
  • Hosted email, which eliminates the need to manage an in-house Exchange server
  • Access email, calendars and contacts from up to five devices per user, with 50GB of mailbox storage
  • Skype for Business, which is useful for voice and video calls, web conferencing, instant messaging and more
  • Yammer - Microsoft’s social networking platform, useful for collaborating and sharing information with employees and volunteers
  • Anti-malware, anti-spam and data protection
  • 24/7 support

Plus, this all comes with a full terabyte of storage for each user.

Office 365 comes in a variety of subscription levels, but we recommend most small businesses start at the Enterprise E3 level, which gives you access to a wide range of Microsoft applications along with security and compliance functions.

Let’s take a look at some more specific benefits you can expect from your Office 365 purchase.

 


Easy Access to Applications

Ever waited a few years to update your software until your organization’s OS is no longer compatible with most services?

Suddenly having to jump forward several generations of software can be difficult for your employees and cause you to have to make drastic adjustments to the way you do business, leading to a drop in productivity and potentially costly downtime .

One of the top benefits of an Office 365 account is that you have access to the newest Microsoft applications, but you don’t have to worry about them slowing down your hardware.

Through Office 365, you’ll have immediate access to the newest versions of Word, PowerPoint and more. Providing your workforce with these updated tools will allow them to take advantage of the newest functionalities in each app, getting them quickly up to speed on new technology.

Having a forward-facing organization like this offers benefits that extend far beyond each app’s immediate returns as well.

 


Remote Work and Collaboration

Increasingly, more and more businesses are seeing the benefits of remote work, and Office 365 is here to make remote work as simple as possible.

Advances in networking and mobile technologies have enabled employees to do work outside the confines of the office. Companies are embracing this trend, with one study finding up to 63% of company respondents allowing remote work.

Download Our Checklist to Managing a Remote Workforce

The benefits to small businesses are clear — remote work allows you to attract top talent from around the globe while also cutting costs on office space.

Remote Work Statistics to Know

  • 86% of employees prefer to work alone
  • Two-thirds of managers say remote workers increase their overall productivity
  • 82% of remote employees report reduced stress levels
  • Workplaces that allow remote work have drastically cut costs on real estate

Source: The Top Three Cybersecurity Threats to Your Remote Workforce

Even if you don’t offer full remote work, being able to access your work from any device can be extremely beneficial.

Working on an important PowerPoint presentation to a potential client, only to realize the night before that you need to make last minute changes — and you left your laptop at the office? With Office 365, you’ll be able to log into your company’s secure portal, access that presentation and make edits easily.

Office 365 also comes with tools that allow teams or departments to easily coordinate and monitor work, increasing efficiency and production. A centralized planner can be used to track all your team’s work, while team members will be able to leave comments on Word docs simultaneously.

Since all your work will be in the cloud, you won’t have to worry about dealing with costly downtime from your server going down or suffering an on-sight data loss. 

 


Built-in Security

Sending your sensitive data to the cloud, seemingly out of your control, can be a nerve-wracking decision. Who hasn’t heard stories about major data breaches or employees improperly storing information on their personal devices?

Small businesses are often too lax about cybersecurity, but Microsoft provides tools which help you and your IT team create and manage a strong culture of cybersecurity.

Download: Is Your IT Infrastructure Good Enough?

Microsoft takes a defense-in-depth approach to security, which means they provide physical, logical and data layers of security features and operational best practices.

Furthermore, your Office 365 subscription comes with built-in security functions, including: 

Advanced Email

Featuring archiving, legal hold capabilities and unlimited storage which will keep your employee email accounts secure and compliant. This, combined with personal user email security best practices, will help keep your organization safe.

Message Encryption 

Office 365 offers flexible out-of-the-box encryption policies like “Encrypt Only” and “Do Not Forward”, allowing you to protect sensitive information.

Rights Management Services 

You’ll be able to restrict access to documents and email to specific people, preventing anyone else from viewing or editing them — even if they are sent outside the organization.

Multi-Factor Authentication

With an enhanced login process (which at higher levels of Office 365 subscriptions can be customized to your organization), you’ll be able to drastically increase your security.

Mobile Device Management 

We previously mentioned the benefits of working remote, but what happens if a user’s device with access to your 365 account gets misplaced or stolen? With this feature, you can control the level of access individual devices have to your account and information, allowing you to easily fix this issue.

 

Of course, since Office 365 is primarily a cloud-based service, you have to be able to trust your provider’s dedication to security.

See for Yourself 

Take a look at some Microsoft experts explaining their security features.

Here’s what Microsoft has to say about their own Office 365 security best practices:

  • We restrict physical data center access to authorized personnel and have implemented multiple layers of physical security, such as biometric readers, motion sensors, 24-hour secured access, video camera surveillance and security breach alarms.
  • We enable encryption of data both at rest and via the network as it is transmitted between a data center and a user.
  • We don't mine or access your data for advertising purposes.
  • We use customer data only to provide the service; we don't otherwise look in your mailbox without your permission.
  • We regularly back up your data.
  • We won't delete all the data in your account at the end of your service term until you have had time to take advantage of the data portability that we offer.
  • We host your customer data in-region.
  • We enforce "hard" passwords to increase security of your data.
  • We allow you to turn off and on privacy impacting features to meet your needs.
  • We contractually commit to the promises made here with the data processing terms in your volume licensing agreement. For more information, visit the Independently verified section of the Office 365 Trust Center.

While you can’t rely on only your software provider to keep your organization safe, it’s clear Microsoft takes your data protection and security extremely seriously. 

 


Your Expected Cost Savings

To fully understand just how much you’ll be saving with Office 365, let’s take a look at the costs associated with the traditional model of owning your software and related hardware. 

When you own the IT infrastructure supporting your applications, you’re going to run into a lot of costs. The costs for owning an Exchange server alone can be staggering, and include:

  • The Exchange server itself
  • Cost of the hardware to run the server (server, disk, RAID, power, heating, cooling, backup)
  • Installing and configuring the server
  • Cost of security (SSL certificates)
  • Cost of maintaining and updating the hardware and operating system
  • Cost of downtime for any hardware or Internet failures

And that’s all just for one application.

Office 365 takes care of all of those concerns: the license is free, the server and security concerns are left to Microsoft and the risk of downtime is significantly reduced.

If your Internet goes down, you won’t have access to the cloud services — but even without Office 365 you’d have the same problem.

But don’t just take our word for it.

A study conducted by Forrester Consulting into the potential return on investment (ROI) for organizations with one to 250 users came back with some truly impressive figures.

The study interviewed SMBs that have switched to Office 365 several years prior and found that after three years of use, these businesses saved:

  • $89,789 on technology costs like hardware, software and IT labor
  • $76,098 in worker efficiency due to mobile access
  • $4,929 in lowering compliance costs

Altogether, these figures result in a net overall ROI of 154%.

Your expected cost works out to:

$20 per month for the Enterprise E3 level subscription, which includes full access to Office applications, public cloud storage, collaboration services, the Microsoft business applications, device management and single security to protect data across devices and aid against malware, viruses and spyware.

Big difference, right?

 


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If it sounds like Microsoft Office 365 might be right for your business, then your next step should be finding a partner who can ensure that your move to Office 365 is properly executed.

Without sufficient planning, your business runs the risk of suffering data loss or costly downtime during the move.

As a Gold Microsoft Partner, we here at Switchfast have overseen hundreds of 365 migrations. We’ll be able to help you:

  • Pick the Microsoft Office 365 subscription that is right for your business
  • Oversee your migration
  • Secure your network
  • Be on call for any needs you might have

And if we think Office 365 isn’t the right fit for you, then we’ll find the solution best tailored to your organization’s needs.

 

Expertise You Can Trust

From helping you select the right subscription for your needs, to overseeing migration and deployment, our expert technicians can ensure your business is up and ready to run with your 365 package from day one.

Microsoft Partners

Our Microsoft Gold Partner status means that we stay up-to-date about the newest Office 365 enhancements — information which will allow your organization to take advantage of new software before your competitors.

Solutions When You Need Them

Our team is here to help you maximize your investment in Office 365. Reach out to us at any time for assistance with tools, further integrations or subscription changes if needed.

 

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 Contact us today!

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