10 Benefits of Microsoft 365
Productivity is heavily reliant on the tools at hand. This understanding was a lesson learned during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when many businesses scrambled to figure out remote work solutions for their employees.
Before this, businesses could rely on many disparate software and hardware solutions with multiple licenses. Some programs were cloud-based, some were hosted on company-specific servers, and some ran on each employees’ workstation.
The pandemic solidified the need for all-in-one solutions, and the more familiar the software suite, the better. This familiarity is why Microsoft 365 (called Office 365 before April 2020) became the de facto standard for most companies.
Many were already using Office 365 pre-pandemic anyway, at least in part. It was this familiarity and cloud functionality, along with native compatibility with PCs, that solidified 365’s pervasiveness.
Even nearly two years since the pandemic began, there haven’t been any other serious contenders in this space. You can count on Microsoft 365 to be the go-to suite for the foreseeable future, even with the rise of challengers such as the Meta (Facebook) VR workspace and Google Workspace. This article will highlight 10 reasons why Microsoft 365 should be your workspace all-in-one solution. First, though, let’s explore what features you can expect with Microsoft 365.
Microsoft 365 Business Plans
There are four levels of Microsoft 365 Business. The price per user for these service levels increase as you move down the list and is subject to change over time as Microsoft dictates:
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic
- Microsoft 365 Apps for Business
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium
Each tier supports 300 users and one terabyte of OneDrive online storage space per user. Every plan also comes with the following software:
- One Drive
Each plan except Apps for Business comes with the following software:
Apps for Business, Business Standard, and Business Premium feature:
Business Premium features:
- Microsoft Defender
- Azure Information Protection
- Azure AD Premium P1
- Azure Virtual Desktop
Apps for Business is largely targeted to businesses that need the work tools, such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, but don’t need the collaborative aspects of 365. The set of features generally increases along with the price. Each company will have different needs. Now, let’s examine 10 benefits of Microsoft 365:
1. Remote Work Advantage
The first benefit may be the most obvious. Remote work ability is the feature that cemented Microsoft 365’s dominance in the first place. With SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams, businesses can continue to be productive remotely just as they can in an office.
Even though Microsoft 365 was created by the people most responsible for the dominance of the PC in the marketplace, only Access and Publisher are PC-only applications.
It’s this functionality and access that makes 365 so powerful for remote work. But the advantage isn’t just for people who want to work from home.
These tools are powerful enough to give office functionality to workers who are on business trips or who live in locations too far to make a reasonable commute. In the 365 Business Premium level, there’s also built-in virtual desktop support for workers who need to access workstations remotely. All of this remote functionality is available thanks to cloud syncing. As documents and projects are altered and progress through their necessary stages, they are updated automatically in real-time.
Rather than having to remember to overwrite an older version of a project on another workstation, time is saved, and mistakes are avoided with cloud storage.
Video calls through Teams or Skype allow instant sharing and communication from anywhere in the world. As long as there’s an internet connection, a video chat is possible.
Teams and Skype will also automatically monitor the strength of the connection and adjust quality accordingly. This adaption can also be tailored to the user, with a preference for stability or image/audio quality (or somewhere in between).
Microsoft 365 is designed to be functional on a wide array of platforms…
Plans allow five devices per person. Many of the applications within 365 can be used with an internet browser, which means that workers won’t have to lug a full-sized laptop with them everywhere in order to be productive.
Even if there is no internet connectivity, most apps will still work as they would normally. Once the internet is restored, the app will automatically sync with the cloud to update the project.
For companies that prefer purchasing a license to install Microsoft 365 on individual workstations or servers rather than use the cloud-based subscription service, Microsoft still offers this option.
While some may see this as backward, there are companies with legitimate security concerns, and they require zero internet access. Rather than abandon businesses with this need, Microsoft caters to them.
Companies interested in licensing rather than using a cloud subscription should know that there will be certain features that they won’t have access to, given the nature of the programs’ isolation. Unless your company needs its workstations to be quarantined from the outside world, the productivity tools in the cloud-based system will be of more interest.
3. Predictable Costs
When companies rely on a plethora of software solutions from multiple companies, including managed services for IT support, their budgets can remain in flux. Sometimes this can be due to a company discontinuing a piece of software, changing its price, or removing needed features. By reducing the number of varied apps, companies give themselves more consistency month-to-month.
Microsoft 365 has predictable plans with a fixed per-user cost. Companies can plan their costs based on their number of employees and the features they need.
Perhaps they prefer basic plans with a few essential, core features, or maybe a company will decide it’s in their best interests to add all of the features of Business Premium. Whatever they choose, they’ll know what impact it will have on their budget.
Another budget benefit is the lack of a fixed contract. Rather than requiring businesses to pledge to 6 months or a year of a particular plan, Microsoft will allow companies to sign up and cancel as they please. Plus, businesses can switch plans if they feel the need.
Businesses can also decide whether they need any add-ons such as audio conferencing, which, while they may add cost, also add functionality. Even with these add-ons, the overall price is predictable month to month.
Security has many facets, and Microsoft 365 increases cybersecurity in every way:
As for when users log in, 365 offers multi-factor identification to make access more secure. For example, if a user is trying to log in on their computer, the company can link their account to their phone, so they’ll need to punch in a code received via text message.
This enhanced authentication eliminates the possibility of brute-force attacks. 365 also comes with top-notch spam filtering with Exchange Online Protection (except in Apps for Business).
Since the cloud service isn’t hosted on a company’s own server, Microsoft takes care of the back end. This coverage means that no matter which level of 365 a business chooses, they get the same stringent business-level security infrastructure.
With data being stored in OneDrive instead of company workstations, it is more secure than ever. Many businesses have lost crucial data because it wasn’t backed up. Whether because of a mistake, a natural disaster, or sabotage, data can get lost. But with Microsoft 365, that data can be saved, and downtime will be reduced.
Access to Data
One aspect of security that doesn’t get mentioned much but is crucial for large organizations is that with these centralized office suites, knowledge doesn’t compartmentalize.
When an employee is using Microsoft 365’s tools to create a project, their knowledge doesn’t leave with them if they quit or are fired. Instead, the higher-ups can use that user’s credentials to access the work done on the project thus far.
IT teams can see the health of the entire organization at any moment. Microsoft 365 can throw up a red flag to let them know of any possible data breach and allow IT to quarantine the breach before it becomes a bigger problem.
With Microsoft Defender, Secure Score, and security center, Microsoft 365 offers serious cybersecurity and compliance tools for defending a company’s most sensitive data.
5. Enhanced Collaboration
Having workers in remote locations does a company no good if the workers can’t collaborate. With Microsoft 365 packages that include Teams, up to 300 users can work together on video chat.
In Teams, screen sharing allows the meeting to become a presentation, too. Of course, at that point, users can bring up Excel, Word, Powerpoint, or any program they need to use to share details on a project.
Sharepoint allows meeting attendees to share documents and other data in real-time. Both web and mobile versions of Microsoft 365 allow this instant co-authoring.
As a document gets altered, it updates the changes for everyone. This syncing works across all platforms, too. If one user is working on a Mac and another on a PC, they’ll both still be able to see the changes happening, and the document or file will save and update with no hiccups.
If needed, audio conferencing can be added on for those team members who are on the go and can’t join via video. Plus, in the Business Standard and Premium bundles, companies can host webinars complete with registration pages, email confirmations, and data reporting for analytics.
With Microsoft Editor, employees can communicate better, too. It’s an AI-powered service that helps workers craft messages with improved grammar and spelling. The resulting clarity and conciseness will help them get their ideas across better. It can be added as an extension to web browsers and automatically checks for plagiarism.
When pondering the addition of productivity software suites, companies take into account how familiar their employees are with the platform. With most additions, there’s a learning curve of some kind.
When choosing Microsoft 365, the programs are the same ones that most users have experienced their entire working life. Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are so ubiquitous that companies take it for granted that their employees understand at least the basic functionality of each.
This familiarity reduces training costs and mistakes alike. Outlook, for example, has been the standard email interface for so long that just about everyone in the corporate world is fluent in its layout and features.
Without having to hunt for functions like out-of-office automated messages or how to blind copy, workers can get in and start using the program right away.
If workers are migrating from a similar platform, such as Google Workspace, they won’t be lost. Most platforms, Google Workspace included, have copied Microsoft’s programs’ user interfaces nearly verbatim. In fact, Google’s suite will save and upload Microsoft formatted documents and files.
All functions that workers are used to in Google Sheets, Google Docs, and other such apps will translate back to Microsoft 365. So many companies have copied Microsoft’s functions verbatim that their app clones actually provide a fertile training ground for users’ familiarity with Microsoft 365.
Even the best workers are still human. Forgetting appointments, sending messages to the wrong address, and other errors cost time and money. With Microsoft 365, many processes can be automated to take away the element of human error.
Keeping work and personal calendars synced will ensure that employees won’t forget an important event because they were looking at the wrong calendar.
Disseminating Policy Updates
Sometimes a company will have to issue a policy update to employees. With automated mandatory read monitoring, it’s simple to figure out how many workers have perused the documents you’ve issued.
Ensuring IT Support Call Followup
Easing Financial Reporting
Automated emails allow companies to reach people who have given their information on web forms as well as potential customers based on user behavior.
Microsoft Forms, for example, allows companies to create surveys, questionnaires, and polls. The potential customer gets a positive user experience, and the business gets a lead on a possible sale.
Keeping Information Current
Bad or old data can harm a company’s decision-making process. With automated group and list management, businesses can keep track of subscriptions, opt-ins, and opt-outs and make sure that users are categorized properly.
If emails are giving bouncebacks or users are complaining that they’re being contacted when they don’t want to be, it’s a sure sign that, among other things, email lists are out of date.
Automation saves time, saves money, and eliminates errors, but it also improves the work experience for employees. They can expect certain processes to be done properly and not fear that a co-worker will drop the ball on a task.
Company leadership can also predict with greater accuracy what their employees’ expected productivity will be. Since they know that Microsoft 365 is taking care of many processes that would otherwise be busywork, they can get a better handle on how long certain tasks take to complete.
8. Continual Updates
The process of updating software used to be cumbersome. If the software could be updated at all, it required mailed disks or manual downloads. With Microsoft 365, software updates happen automatically and continuously.
Employees and IT never have to worry about missing an update. All users have to do is respond to a prompt when starting a program to update to the latest version. All new features and functionality will appear instantly.
These updates are highly valuable for cybersecurity, as well. One of the ways that spammers and hackers gain access is through known vulnerabilities in software.
As companies find such vulnerabilities in their products, they make patches to close them off. This work leaves IT able to focus on more valuable projects and processes for the company rather than taking time to update programs or clean up the aftermath of a virus or malware attack.
It should be noted that this feature is true for cloud-based subscriptions to Microsoft 365, not licensed Microsoft 365.For versions installed directly to workstations, they’ll have to be updated manually. However, this probably won’t be a dealbreaker for businesses that require the isolation of their computers for security reasons.
9. Customization for Organization
Being organized is difficult for some workers who might otherwise be highly skilled. In the past, these workers would miss meetings, make mistakes, and lose credibility (or their job) over these blunders.
With cloud syncing and real-time cross-platform file changes, all workers can get a boost in organization by accessing the tools needed to make it happen.
Every user can modify their particular Microsoft 365 experience. They get the specific programs they need and can sync them however they want.
Microsoft 365 is compatible with other companies’ programs, such as Intuit Quickbooks, Shopify, PayPal, and more. Thanks to automated reminders, infinite scalability, and a custom user experience, Microsoft 365 is almost like a brain boost for employees.
This customization isn’t something that requires any special skills. Anyone with a basic understanding of the platform can tailor Microsoft 365 to their desired specifications. And because employees can have nearly every function of 365 tied to their smartphone, they can work on or communicate about a project through the browser from anywhere.
10. Simple Compatibility
Aside from budgeting concerns, having a hodge-podge of software on a company’s workstations can lead to compatibility issues. If one employee is using a word processor that saves files in a format that can’t be opened by an employee who uses a different word processor, work can’t continue until the file can be converted somehow. These incompatibilities can occur even on different generations of the same software.
With Microsoft 365, since everyone in the company gets the same programs and the same generation of programs, there are no compatibility issues as documents and files are shared. Even cross-platform sharing isn’t an issue with support for Apple, PC, and Android platforms.
Another issue with compatibility is that employees who continue to use an older version of a piece of software might find that it does not continue to work properly on newer workstations.
Once employees update their office suite to Microsoft 365, the software will be compatible with newer generations of computers. As a company updates its hardware, Microsoft 365 will scale with the change.
There’s no other productivity suite that features the comprehensive, all-encompassing functionality that Microsoft 365 has. It’s secure, enhances productivity, and is compatible with just about any platform a company might use.
Microsoft 365 should be at least a consideration for any company interested in boosting its remote work capacity and collaboration capabilities. Workers are already familiar with most of its software and functions anyway.
What companies must do is determine which package is right for them. Not every feature in the higher levels of Microsoft 365 is going to be necessary for all businesses, and having more features than will be used is just a waste.
Thankfully, if a business decides to upgrade or downgrade, there is no penalty for doing so. Perhaps take a trial run with Microsoft 365 and see if it’s the solution your company needs.