Moving to the cloud can be a big decision for any business. While moving to a cloud-based system like Office 365 has some major advantages, it’s not going to be the right system for everyone.
A quick way to see if it’s right for you is to look at the major pros and cons:
Pros of Office 365
One of the biggest advantages of Office 365 is the ability to work from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. Because it’s entirely cloud-based, you can access your email, files and Office programs (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) 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.
This is especially helpful for companies with remote employees, multiple locations and companies with employees who travel often.
If working in teams is at all a part of your company, you’ll appreciate the collaboration features of Office 365. The biggest advantage of this? You get one version of the truth.
Everyone who needs to contribute to or edit a document (or spreadsheet, or presentation, etc), can work on the same version (and get real-time changes) rather than having multiple version floating around that have to be combined.
You can also share direct access to your files, rather than send files as attachments. This means people can make changes to one file rather than having multiple copies. Versioning is included in case you need to go to back to an older version.
Always Have 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. In addition, Microsoft is constantly making upgrades to features across programs – you’ll get access to those, too. Check the Office Blog to get an idea of what kind of upgrades you get with an Office 365 plan.
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. It’s pretty easy to switch between plans, too, if you find that an employee needs more or less than what they have now. You can check out a breakdown of the different plans here.
Office 365 is a subscription-based service, meaning you pay a low monthly fee (per user) rather than a large lump sum up front. This can be helpful from a cash flow perspective. Plans are typically paid month-to-month (though some places will do yearly subscriptions, sometimes for a discount), so you turn off what you’re not using to save money.
One of the biggest misconceptions about the Cloud is that it’s not safe. In reality, it isn’t necessarily any more or less safe than an on-premise system. It’s all in how you use it and what security measures you put in place. Office 365 has a lot of built-in security features to keep your company’s data safe. Some of our favorites include:
- Encrypted email: This keeps anyone other than the intended recipient from reading your email
- Data Loss Prevention: This is a set of policies that checks and prevents sensitive information (like social security numbers) from leaving your organization via email. We’ve broken it down a little more in this post.
- Mobile Device Management: These features allow you to control Office on your employees phones to protect company information. If an employee’s phone is lost or stolen, it can be remotely wiped to prevent anyone who shouldn’t have access from getting to company data.
- Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA): ATA uses analytics and machine learning to detect and alert you to suspicious behavior on your network. Our favorite part of this? It will scan emails as they come into your network for malicious links and attachments and if it detects something fishy, it’ll prevent the malicious attachment from getting in. Your employees will still get the email, but will get a message explaining why the attachment isn’t there. This can go a long way to preventing a data breach due to human error.
These certainly aren’t all the security features available in Office 365 – just a small sample. Please note, these aren’t available on all plans. To have everyone in your organization covered, you’ll need to get them all on plans that include it or purchase it as an add-on.
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.
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).
Yes, we’re putting this under both pros and cons – for this, 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.
Compatibility with Line of Business Applications
The problem with always having access to the latest versions of Office programs is that your line-of-business applications may not always be compatible. If you are on Office 365, though, you are able to use some older versions of Office programs. Always make sure you check compatibility with critical applications before upgrading Office (or Windows, or any other technology it may interact with).
Can be hard to keep up with changing feature set
The features in Office 365 do change fairly frequently. On one hand, you always have access to the latest and great versions. On the other hand, it can be hard to keep up sometimes if you use some of the lesser known programs like Delve and Yammer.
Typically, the changes aren’t huge, so it’s unlikely any update will mean having to relearn the programs. More likely, you just won’t always know what the changes are.
Most people only use 20% of the functionality
This isn’t really a con of Office 365 itself, but worth noting. A majority of users don’t use Office 365 to its full advantage. Most people use only Office 365 for email, file storage and access to Office programs, even though it has so much more to offer.
There certainly isn’t anything wrong with this – but it may mean you’re paying for more than what you need. If you do move to Office 365, it’s a good idea to do a gut check every few months to see what parts are actually being used. You may be able to move some employees down to a cheaper plan to without losing functionality.