Over the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion on Office 365. Many businesses can potentially benefit from this software model but at times, there is not a clear understanding on what it is, how it works and what benefits it can provide.
I wanted to provide a high-level summary and some of the pros and cons of using this product offering.
Simply, Office 365 is a subscription service to license and use Microsoft products. Products like Exchange Email, Word, Excel, Sharepoint, Access and others can be used on a month to month or annual basis.
The applications can be used in a format where you do not actually need to install the software, there
are web versions of the applications. Other forms of the plan will allow you install the full program and
all its features on your desktop/laptop.
This allows you to spread out your expenses as opposed to a large capital investment on Microsoft
Office licensing, Exchange licenses, including hardware and support costs.
Let’s look at the Pros and Cons off Office 365
Pros of Office 365
Work from Anywhere
One of the most advantageous aspects of Office 365 is the ability to work from anywhere if you have an
internet connection. Because it’s entirely in the cloud, you can access your email, files and Office
programs from any location and any device. If you have a plan that includes desktop version of Office,
they can be installed on up to 5 devices per user.
Access to the Latest Versions of Programs
With Office 365, you’ll also have access to the latest versions of Office at no additional charge. You’ll get
the latest and greatest features without having to uninstall and reinstall Office on everyone’s machines.
Mix and Match Plans
There are several different Office 365 business plans available with different programs and features. Not
everyone in your company is going to need the exact same thing. You can mix and match plans so you
don’t have to pay for more than you need. Switching plans is easy, if you find that an employee needs
more or less than what they have now.
Cons of Office 365
If the internet is down, you may not be able to access work.
Since Office 365 is a cloud-based service, if you don’t have an internet connection, you may not be able
to access your files. If your company has an unreliable internet connection (or a very slow one), it’s
probably not the best option for you. If you have backup/failover internet capability, this is not an issue.
There are options to overcome some of this if you have an expected downtime. You won’t be able to
access email, but you can sync your files to your desktop and use desktop versions of Office programs (if
your plan includes them).
This can be a con from a financial aspect. It really comes down to preference. If you’d rather just spend a
large sum every few years for your Office programs and server and not have to worry about it every
month, Office 365 isn’t going to be a great option for you. Yearly subscriptions could be a happy
medium, though – often you can get a discount for going this route. One item to note is that
organizations will typically buy office licenses without software assurance (ability to upgrade) to save on
cost but this could result in having very old, unsupported office versions.
If you like to have an in depth discussion on Office 365 to investigate if it is a fit for your organization, we
have folks in house that can provide guidance and help you make an informed decision.