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Microsoft 365 for Business: A Guide

With the business landscape changing so quickly, more people are working remotely meaning many organisations have moved away from desktop applications to the cloud-based Microsoft 365 for business. Changing from the traditional desktop version to a cloud-based application may be daunting but Microsoft 365 offers so much more to meet your business needs.

What is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 is essentially everything you would traditionally have on your desktop (Outlook, Word, Excel etc) but as a cloud-based computing service meaning all applications and data can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

However, with cloud capabilities, Microsoft 365 is able to expand the services offered to include a number of collaborative applications and management tools aiming to bring teams together, whilst at the same time meeting all security and compliance requirements.

How Does Microsoft 365 for Business Work?

The Microsoft 365 system is either offered as a monthly or an annual subscription meaning you can save your business money by not having to buy expensive software and licenses. So, whilst if offers the same (and more) than a traditional desktop service, it allows your business much more flexibility, as you will be paying purely for the services you require, as and when you require them meaning there is more flexibility, scalability and control.

There are various benefits to using Microsoft 365 for Business which include;

  • Up-to-date software – As a monthly or annual subscriber you do not have to purchase software or licenses. All updates, patches and upgrades are applied automatically by the service provider. It also means your organisation is always working on the latest version of the software without any additional costs.
  • Cost saving – With Microsoft Office you pay per user and therefore you are not purchasing software for users who perhaps no longer work for the organisation. You only pay for the services you use. Additionally, you don’t have to pay for IT personnel to upgrade, update and maintain the systems as it is all carried out by the service provider remotely.

What is Included in Microsoft 365 for Business?

Microsoft 365 for business offers everything you would get on the desktop version of Windows but with cloud-based capabilities. Depending on which subscription service you choose (Basic, Standard, Premium) the combination of products will vary, but there are a number of options including;

  • Office applications including Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (all available on desktop and mobile) and Access and Publisher on desktop only.
  • Exchange Online provides email hosting with personalised email addresses, 50GB mailbox and malware and spam filters built in.
  • Teams Communication system enables chat, video conferences and task management.
  • Appointment scheduling using the Microsoft Bookings application makes it easy for your team and your clients to be on top of diary management.
  • File sharing important information is available wherever there is an internet connection.
  • File storage using Onedrive or Sharepoint enables the most updated versions to be made available across your business network. Every OneDrive subscriber will get 1TB of storage and there are options to upgrade. With Sharepoint, IT administrators are able to add extra levels of security to prevent confidential data being shared.
  • Mileage tracking using MileIQ making filing expenses quick and easy.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Voice phone system collates all calls, chat meetings, calendar and email so all communications are in one place.
  • Multi-device usage which allows each subscriber to load Microsoft 365 onto up to five devices meaning they are able to access their data wherever they are located.

Which Edition is Right for your Business?

There are three main options of Microsoft Office 365 for Business. All will host up to 300 users, although if necessary, you are able to increase this to serve your business’ needs. The three options are;

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic – This is the most basic plan and is suitable for small organisations that already have desktop versions of the Windows software and just want to use managed email and cloud storage capabilities.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard – This is a suitable option for organisations that want the online and desktop applications but don’t require managed email as this is provided by another provider.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium – This is for larger organisations and includes all online and desktop apps and communication systems.

In addition to these packages they also offer bespoke subscription packages where you can access Microsoft 365 specifically for your business needs.

Is Office 365 Secure?

As with all cloud services there are additional layers of security including;

  • The security offered by your own in-house systems on all hardware used by your employees.
  • Microsoft Managed Services which are offered as default by Microsoft and include technology, operational procedures and policies ensuring your data is secure.
  • Customer Managed Controls are also available within Microsoft 365 which allows your IT administrators to customise the security within the applications including malware and spam control and anti-virus solutions.
  • Built-in systems such as Message Encryption, Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA), Mobile Device Management, and Data Loss Prevention are all designed to keep your data safe and to keep you working.

One concern with cloud-based services is that your data is effectively ‘shared’ and therefore is no longer secure.

This is not the case.

Any data trusted to the Microsoft 365 service is safe, and you as the organisation, remain the sole owner of that data. None of your data will be mined for advertising or any other purposes and access to your data is controlled by the security settings your organisation’s IT administrators set up.

Advantages of using Office 365 for business 

As with many cloud-based services there are some great benefits to Microsoft 365 for Business. It is, however, a lot more than a ‘portable’ version of Windows.

  • Scalability – With the monthly and yearly subscription and the ability to mix and match the services your business actually requires you can scale up (or down) as your business needs without a large financial cost.
  • Flexibility – With Microsoft 365 your staff are able to work anywhere there is an internet connection, meaning your team can always be connected. This is great for companies with multiple locations, or with remote workers.
  • Collaboration – Remote workers are easily able to share the latest documents, use chat or have video conference calls.
  • Latest software – As a Microsoft 365 subscriber you will always have the latest version of the software at no extra cost.
  • Save money – As there is no need to purchase software and licenses or maintain and update software, not only will your organisation save money on initial capital outlay but also on-going running costs.

If you would like to discuss the further benefits of Microsoft 365 and how it can benefit your business please contact the team at CIS


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