Office 365: The Top Success Factors for SMB's

11/17/14 8:51 AM iCorps Technologies

Microsoft positions Office 365—its cloud-based office productivity and collaboration solution—as the same Office that most businesses already know and have used for many years, but only better, because of the flexibility of the cloud.

With most plans of Office 365 users get full-blown, fully up to date versions of Office that they can use offline on their devices, and they also gain cloud benefits such as always on, mobile friendly access to files and applications. Most business plans of Office 365 also include cloud-based functions such as video conferencing and SharePoint Online. Let’s take a quick look at the features and characteristics of Office 365, followed by some of the key success factors that small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) should keep in mind.

Key benefits of Office 365 include:

  • Users have access to their files and Office apps from virtually anywhere with an Internet or mobile connection.
  • Office 365 support multiple device types, including smart phones and tablets—even iPhones and iPads.
  • With most business class plans, the user company also gets SharePoint Online, which gives them powerful Web-based team collaboration and content management capability.
  • It’s simple to manage and add users, and the apps are always up to date.
  • Not only do users have Outlook for email, but the SMB user company also gets business class email with 50 gigabytes (GB) of email storage. This lessens a common internal IT burden for SMBs—the care and feeding of Exchange Servers. However, with some plans, it may be desirable to keep an Exchange Server in house to facilitate streamlined log on to all systems.

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Factors to keep in mind with Office 365:

  • Not only is there a personal/consumer version of Office 365, there are multiple business-class plans. Currently, there are three SMBs focused plans. Additionally, Microsoft recently announced an Office 365 solution road map with new variants of the plans for SMBs, with availability planned for October 1, 2014.
  • Users companies have to carefully choose the Office 365 plan which is right for their needs. For example, some SMBs may want Active Directory integration built in, or app availability for tablets. A firm such as iCorps can help SMBs select the best plan and smoothly merge the new cloud resources with existing, on-premise IT systems, user authorizations, and credentials.
  • Office 365 offers extensive security and reliability mechanisms, such as data encryption, but no single cloud solution will ensure security and reliability for a SMB’s overall IT environment. End point and device security solutions and procedures may well be needed. It also might be wise to have a disaster recovery solution to safeguard on-premise IT systems and data.

The bottom line is the Microsoft Office 365 is a powerful cloud-based office productivity, collaboration, and content management solution. However, choosing the right plan, and making it work in a cohesive and secure way with existing IT systems, are key considerations for SMBs. With iCorps as your cloud services partner, we can address all the success factors for optimal use of Office 365.