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Are You Getting the Most from Your Office 365 Plan?

By February 22, 2021No Comments

getting-most-from-office-365-plan-microsoft-o365-m365If you are not sure if you are getting the full value of your Office 365 plan, then let SWK Technologies help you uncover the full benefits of your implementation. The experts at SWK’s Managed Cloud Services (MCS) practice will show you what features you may have overlooked, where you could be saving money and which licenses may provide the best fit for your business. We will empower you to gain a true understanding of everything your productivity suite has to offer to ensure you unlock the total value of your Microsoft investments.

The breadth of options available across the cumulative Office 365 plan choices can be overwhelming to review, especially considering the relatively frequent name changes for some products. With everything being rearranged and unified under the Microsoft 365 umbrella, it can be a challenge to obtain information useful to your search without spending hours and hours of valuable time on research. That is why a partner like SWK MCS is critical to learning what you need to maximize the returns on your productivity software.

Here are a few ways to help you discover if you are the getting the most value from your Office 365 plan:

Office 365 VS Microsoft 365 – Name Changes

Microsoft has become fairly notorious for their frequent and occasionally confusing name changes across different product lines, but this only reflects the range of options the publisher tries to cover with their multiple versions. Because of the scope of the ecosystem, partners like SWK act as the education and support resource for customers on the ground seeking to better understand their applications. Learning the difference between the new Microsoft 365 and older Office 365 may seem compounded by the latest rebranding, but it boils down simply enough to which suite fits your situation the best.

The key is that the O365 platform is still included with a full Microsoft plan, although it is technically not featured in every one so it requires some review and decision-making. However, all but the most basic comes with the original Office 365 platform along with the original applications, so if you have an existing subscription it should not be impacted by the change. The remaining difference (and possibly the most confusion) lies between the multiple Basic and Enterprise versions – products in the former have limited user maximums and are strictly named under Microsoft 365 while the latter includes both names and unlimited users.

Cloud Enables Collaboration and Accelerates Productivity

Windows-based systems were experiencing many changes long before the latest naming conventions were even conceptualized, adding more potential confusion. Office 365 was a breakthrough on its own when it was first introduced and still continues to offer businesses a transformation of traditional processes by hosting their productivity tools in the cloud. It brought many of the core Microsoft apps into an online environment that granted users to the ability to simultaneously interact with shared files, along with many other time and cost saving features that boost efficiency.

Software and IT infrastructure resources delivered as services (SaaS and IaaS, respectively) provide several opportunities to streamline the way your business runs that are not found with legacy deployments. You no longer have to buy physical copies of Office 365 and install applications manually, but instead will download them based on your subscription and digital licenses. Herein also lies another important difference – the various versions of your Microsoft 365 plan are divided by user maximums, as well as which add-ons are included natively or can be integrated separately.

All the Features of Microsoft Office Plus Access to Add-ons

Office 365 at its core still delivers the traditional suite of applications users all over the world have come to rely on, now all hosted in the cloud. Word, Excel, PowerPoint all have Online versions that allow anyone given permission to simultaneously view or make changes to the file, though the catalyst that enables this functionality is the addition to note. OneDrive is the foundation of your subscription’s web-based features, and along with SharePoint, allows you to keep machines remotely connected to your network from anywhere and share files in real-time.

Many of these applications are standard (though not universal) to most Microsoft 365 plans, though once you begin digging into the higher levels you will uncover more select services like Power BI that require a deeper review on your part. Some are included natively under certain subscriptions, but many are available as add-ons with licenses that must be purchased separately, as well as upgrades to existing apps.

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Native Security Controls and Solutions

With the advent of hosted features, cloud security is naturally a concern among many would-be and even existing users of Office 365. The good news is that there are several native user controls available even most basic plans that prevent sensitive data from being exposed due to human error and role-based permissions that can be organized within your network. The bad news is that more advanced cybersecurity solutions like Azure Information Protection (AIP) are either only obtainable through license upgrades that must be purchased as add-ons, or with certain Enterprise level subscriptions.

The other good news is that many of these additional services are designed to help meet regulatory standards for data security, so if privacy compliance is a concern for your business, then this should be a factor in choosing your Microsoft 365 plan. These features will add additional layers of protection to your cyber defense along with the right user training to protect against human error and complacency, reinforcing your cybersecurity posture with automation.

Microsoft App Integration with Your ERP

If you have implemented an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution like Sage 100 at any point, then chances are you are already migrating data from your Office 365 applications to your accounting software. However, streamlining these manual methodologies for moving information between your systems will greatly reduce the time and money that must be devoted to doing so as well the inaccuracies that occur. More modern features in both product categories – including cloud-hosted functionality – allow for seamless transfer of files from your ERP to Microsoft apps like Excel, so you can import and export spreadsheets and PDFs between apps effortlessly.

SWK Technologies is a software reseller as well as a managed service provider (MSP), able to provide a level of support and customization for both hosted applications and your IT infrastructure that enables you to build an integrated technology stack. Our expert knowledge and guidance will empower to connect your Office 365 data with solutions like Sage 100cloud and Acumatica, and build workflows that permit users to move within the touchpoints of each system interrupted.

Choosing the Right Microsoft 365 Plan

There are many, many more factors to consider when choosing the right Microsoft 365 plan besides those few mentioned here, but the information outlined previously should help provide you with a foundation to get started. Narrowing down your M365 selection must follow the same methodology as making any other business technology purchase – review your gaps and determine the functionality you need, find a solution that bridges those gaps, and measure the value return.

The focal point of your search should be your business’s scalability, and the role Office 365 plays in either enabling or hampering growth. Answering a few of these questions will help you zero in on the right choice:

  • Does your current user max impede growth?
  • How many emails do your employees send and receive in a day?
  • Are you using all the apps in your plan?
  • How much time does it take for employees to finish projects in Word, Excel, etc.?
  • Are there any employees that work remotely, and if so, how many?
  • How much of your data is in the O365 cloud?

Sign Up to Discover All Your Office 365 Plan Has to Offer

Dive deeper into what else every Microsoft and Office 365 plan has to offer by watching SWK’s webinar on getting the most value out of your suite. Our Senior Solutions Architect and resident Microsoft service expert will walk you through what features you may already have but overlooked and where you could be saving more money by maximizing use of your O365 investment.

Register for the webinar here and discover how to capture the most value from Office 365.

SWK Technologies, Inc.