For any business, moving to Office 365 is a big decision. While moving to a cloud-based platform like the one Microsoft is offering does have its advantages, that doesn't mean it's going to be the perfect system for every business. Research is the major key, so it's important to weigh the positives with the negatives to decide whether it's something that can benefit your business. Here are the pros and cons of Office 365 for business.
What's important when taking the pros and cons of Office 365 into account for businesses is that the platform needs to benefit everyone in the company. This is opposed to a personal subscription where everything is tailored to one individual. Simply click on any of the pros below to read more about them.
The Pros of Office 365:
But, first, you might want to dive right into the cons...
The Cons of Office 365:
CONS OF OFFICE 365 FOR BUSINESS
You probably thought about this when reading the first positive aspect of Office 365. However, any business can be hit with internet problems. A downside of Office 365 is that if you do unfortunately suffer from internet problems, then you probably won't be able to complete any work or even access your emails easily. The sad part about this is that some Office 365 features always require an internet connection to use.
Although it can be tricky to access the cloud for Office 365 files and data, there is a workaround to this. A select few Office 365 plans allow businesses and users to install full desktop versions of Office, including Word, PowerPoint and Excel. If your business does suffer from internet downtime, then users can load up the desktop versions and continue working offline. Once you're reconnected to the internet, all of the changes that were made offline will sync and you won't have any disrupted productivity.
We're all different. When we subscribe to something, some of us will want to make sure we turn auto-renew off while others will hope that their subscriptions automatically renew and they can forget all about that aspect. However, businesses might decide in the future that they don't want to renew and will see out their subscription. When it comes time to cancel, they might realise their renewal date was last month and you've already started to pay the new period's fees. Good luck explaining that to your boss.
That's a slight issue with Office 365, as auto-renewal is turned on by default when a subscription is purchased by a business. Some businesses simply won't have the time to go in and fiddle around with the settings when their time could be used elsewhere. Somebody will have to make sure they go into the Office 365 admin centre well ahead of time to make sure the renewal setting is what the business wants it to be.
This is vital, as you may have turned auto-renew off but changed your mind later and then realise that your subscription has expired and needs to be bought again.
Dealing with lots of data - especially data that's confidential - can be difficult to cope with. Despite that, most businesses will probably prefer to store and control their own data without letting somebody else keep an eye on it. Think about it - how comfortable will you be letting somebody you've never met look after your car? When switching to Office 365, you're automatically trusting Microsoft with all of your data regardless of how important or confidential that data is and not everyone is going to be comfortable with that.
By switching to Office 365, any organisation's data is hosted in Microsoft's data centre. Microsoft has implemented a series of safety and management regulations too. The restrictions they have in place could interfere with your company's daily activities. But you can still keep all of your data with your own company for peace of mind. That's if you sign up for Enterprise licensing but part of the reason why the switch to Office 365 is made is because of the advanced security features that aren't available anywhere else. In short, the positives of how secure their data centre is means that Microsoft storing your data is actually a good thing.
This is perhaps the worst case scenario a business could face. You might be ecstatic at finding out that Office 365 is exactly what you need. But when it comes to finally rolling it out onto your systems, realising your systems are outdated and incompatible with Office 365 will set you back. Microsoft does continually release new upgrades and versions for organisations like yours to enjoy, but that can only happen if you're all using devices that are capable of handling something like Office 365.
If your critical systems aren't compatible with Office 365, then there are a few costly ways around it. Either buy new systems or upgrade every existing one to a newer version of Microsoft. While migrating to Office 365 can be a frustrating issue if your devices aren't compatible, there are still ways around it to fix the issue and ease the transition.
PROS OF OFFICE 365 FOR BUSINESS
Businesses that subscribe to an Office 365 plan no longer require the users to remain on-premises to complete their work. That's because Office 365 is entirely cloud-based. So, emails, files and Office programs can be accessed on any compatible device from any location where there's internet access. This is highly beneficial to those businesses that have offices in several locations or employees who are remote or need to travel yet still need to access Office programs.
That means productivity remains at an all-time high. Without this important benefit, businesses will only be able to access files on-premises. Not only that, but because of the numerous plans available to subscribe to, businesses also have the option to install the full desktop versions of Office programs for offline remote-working.
For some businesses, collaborating with in-house departments or third-party sources is vital. That's why the Co-Authoring tool is a huge benefit for businesses that subscribe to an Office 365 plan. Although Office 365 provides businesses with either 1TB or unlimited storage, you'll no longer have to see duplicate files hovering around the company network.
Image Credit: Office Blogs
Instead, the Co-Authoring tool allows users to contribute to or edit a particular document where everyone can easily work on the same version one user has created. As you can see in the image above, real-time changes are also shown so you know exactly who's made changes, when they were made and the exact things that have been amended. No time is wasted looking for valuable data, so users don't have to wait for somebody else to finish before working on it themselves.
One of the worries about moving to the cloud is how secure data will be. Luckily for you, one of the biggest and most innovative aspects of Office 365 is that Microsoft has gone above and beyond to implement advanced security features to keep data and the cloud as secure as possible. These aren't simple methods either like hashed passwords - they're methods businesses will be confident in trusting. The common favourites amongst businesses include:
Mobile Device Management: This is important for businesses that want to take great measures in protecting company data. The Mobile Device Management security feature allows your IT team to control Office on your employees' mobile devices. So, if somebody's device gets stolen or they lose it, then you're able to delete all of the data without actually needing to use the device to wipe the information.
Threat Intelligence - The Threat Intelligence feature provides Enterprise E5 users broad visibility into the threat landscape. Basically, it helps take a proactive approach to cyber security rather than a reactive one. This helps businesses understand and respond more effectively to them.
Encrypted Email: This feature keeps anyone other than the intended recipient from reading your emails.
Advanced Security - This feature helps defend users against the sophisticated threats that are hidden in emails, attachments and links. It also provides users with additional security in the form of two-factor authentication and other built-in security features.
Obviously, these aren't the only advanced security features. We could sit here all day and discuss how in-depth Microsoft has gone when focusing on security. These include Exchange Online Protection and Advanced Threat Analytics. For more information on the Office 365 security features, click here. Remember, these security features depend on the plan your business subscribes to but they can be purchased as add-ons to guarantee additional security on smaller packages.
Nobody likes a sudden change. One of the most time-consuming tasks is that users often have to receive training on new programs that are released and ones that a business might adopt. However, productivity remains increased when Office 365 is in use. That's because it's highly likely that the majority of users grew up using Office programs like Word and Excel. Rather than overwhelming businesses with in-depth and confusing programs, Microsoft has ensured that users always experience the latest releases without giving up what they're used to.
That means time won't be wasted on getting to grips with programs and software. IT teams won't need to take time out to train users because the firm favourites are still the same. So, if you take the plunge and invest in Office 365, you won't be wasting time in getting used to something you're more than likely to have already used.
While the favourites are there, that doesn't mean businesses won't get other software and programs that sets Office 365 apart. There are programs like Yammer, Microsoft Teams, PowerMaps, Workflows and more which all come with certain Office 365 subscriptions.
Businesses shouldn't need to force themselves to change so they can fit into a certain plan. That's probably the case with productivity suites that only have two or three plans available. With Office 365, there are 7 unique plans to choose from which cater to businesses of all sizes. By having these mix and match plans, businesses like yours don't need to compromise or settle for a particular plan.
Not everyone in your business will need the same features, so it's good to know that you can take out the stuff you don't need and include the important programs you do. It saves money, but businesses still benefit from the innovative features that Office 365 provides.
Any productivity suite you subscribe to is going to need an investment. However, that doesn't mean you'll be taking every penny out of the company vault to go all-in on Office 365. Microsoft's offering can help businesses save money, yet enjoy all of the benefits that come with it.
Office 365 plans start from as little as £3.80 per user per month, so it shows that it's not going to take a massive chunk out of your budget. Everyone wants the latest thing that's out, whether it's a console, game or the newest iPhone. Obviously, they cost a lot of money and your business might be one that desperately needs the newest software to operate. However, you won't have to pay for any of that with Office 365 because Microsoft allows users to access the latest programs for free whenever they're released.
Then there are subscription-based payments, meaning your business doesn't need to pay huge up-front costs to experience all of these benefits which also helps from a cash flow perspective.
Is Office 365 Worth It For Businesses?
When you compare the positives with the negatives of Office 365, it's clear to see that the pros outweigh the cons. It's not perfect - no software is - but it shows that Microsoft does have some workarounds which can eliminate one of the negatives, such as a desktop application meaning no internet is never an issue.
Then again, there's a good reason why Office 365 is considered the most popular cloud-based productivity suite.
How Does Office 365 And Its Features Compare To Google And Zoho?
It's always a good idea to consider all of your options before making the all-important decision. Microsoft's offering isn't the only productivity suite on the market. So, how does Google's G Suite or Zoho's Workplace hold up against Office 365? We've compiled a handy and easy-to-read feature comparison to help you decide which one is best for your organisation.
G Suite and Zoho do offer plenty of features themselves, and they even keep up with Office 365 in some areas too. So take a look at the comparison sheet and see where each platform shines.