A move to the cloud can be a big decision for any business, so it’s important to seek the right advice and weigh-up the benefits and potential pitfalls of any cloud solution.  Here’s a look as some of the main benefits and considerations of Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365.

Work remotely, from anywhere
As long as you have accessed to an internet connection you and your employees really can work from anywhere, with ease, and without the need to connect via a VPN.  This means you always have access to your emails and files from wherever you are.

Collaborate easily, internally and with other organisations
If working in teams is part of your business, then Office 365 can provide a great way for improved collaboration and project management. You can create a secure portal to share large, hard-to-email files both inside and outside of your business, giving you a single location to find the latest versions of files or documents.  It also allows member of the team to work on a single version of the file or document, meaning you don’t have the hassle of combining documents or issues with version control.

Improved productivity, synchronising across devices
With Microsoft Office 365, email, calendar and contacts are all synchronised to work together and across any device. This can have a huge impact on business productivity.  Any updates you make on one device (i.e. adding a contact on your mobile phone, or updating a document on your laptop), will automatically update and be accessible on your other devices.

Always have access to the latest version
With Office 365, you’ll automatically have access to the latest versions of Office at no additional cost. You’ll get the latest features without having to uninstall and reinstall Office on everyone’s machines. Microsoft is constantly making upgrades to features across programs which you will automatically have access to.

No more licensing headaches
Keeping track of which employees are on which version of software can be a real nightmare for any business and can introduce risk if licenses are not up-to-date. Office 365 includes all licensing and it can be deployed company wide. This means everyone has the same version of Microsoft Office, and all users will get upgrades at the same time.

A plan to suit every individual
There are a range of different Office 365 business plans, programmes and features available and not every employee needs to be on the same one.  This means the plans can be tailored to the individual employee needs and you don’t end up paying for more features that you need.  It’s also easy to switch between plans as and when needs change.

Monthly based payments
For small businesses especially, predictable monthly based subscription costs can be a real advantage over large upfront payments.  This can be a real benefit to cashflow and also means you can turn-off and stop paying for features when you no longer need them.

Enhance security, fully GDPR compliant
There is often a misconception that the cloud is not secure. Office 365 is fully GDPR complaint so as a business you don’t need to worry about your data being stored in Office 365.  It also has a range of built-in security features like encrypted email and mobile device management (an employee’s lost device can be remotely wiped, to prevent anyone unauthorised getting to your company data).  There are a vast range of security feature add-ons too, to enable it to be configured to your business needs.

So, the benefits of Microsoft Office 365 can be great for any business, but there are a number of things you should consider before moving ahead:

Managing a successful migration
Planning your migration to Office 365 is critical to its success.  You might want to consider working with an external Microsoft partner to ensure you have the right expertise and follow a tried and tested approach.  From understanding your business needs, choosing the right plans, mapping the work flows and communicating to all users, a sound migration plan is essential.

Keeping up with a changing feature set
Continually updated features can be a real benefit, but only if employees are aware of these and keep up to date with them, their benefits and how they can be used.  An external partner can help to keep the business informed of any new features and how they may benefit your business, but it’s also worth having an internal Office 365 leader who can champion new features.

Most don’t use more than 20% of features
One of the downsides of so many features is that most businesses and employees only end up using about 20% of the features available in Office 365.  This might not be a problem if you’re full utilising the features that are right for your business, but it’s worth continually checking this and ensuring that is the case, and make sure you’re not paying for features that are not being used.  Again, an external Office 365 partner can help with this if you don’t have the resource to do this in-house.