Office365 what does it mean to the small business?

Written by Steve Voller on 20th November 2016
Office 365


Office 365 what does it mean to the small business ?

In this article, my aim is to outline the components of Office 365 that may be of interest to the small business and especially some of the newer and less used Office 365 features. There are a few really useful new features .

I will be writing some more in-depth articles on some of these features which will be available on our website.

We have been working with Office 365 for several years now and the product has developed beyond all recognition from the early days. When most people talk about using Office 365 they do so from the perspective of e-mail first and then the components such as Skype for Business (formerly Lync) and then SharePoint and the Office suite itself.

The small to medium size business owner is likely to be buying Office 365 initially with an aim of gaining greater mobility and access to data and then the other components are really an afterthought. So let me try and sway your opinion on what it really is and the benefits.

So lets first start off with a quick summary of the different business versions and then delve in deeper to what's on offer in some future articles.

Most commonly used Office 365 features

Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks
Simply the things you probably do with Outlook with 50GB of storage.
Best of all you get a common view across all your devices, Laptop, Phone, Tablets.

Cloud storage (1TB)  for your files
You can share files from here but I would recommend you keep this for personal content.
Think of this as your “home” drive in the cloud. You can also sync data to your laptop to access offline.

Office suite, Word, Excel, PowerPoint are the most common applications we see in use.
Why would I buy Office with Office 365 ? Because it’s a great way of getting the latest version of Office at a low-cost monthly rental.
You can load this on 5 PC’s, Laptops, phones, and tablets.

Cloud storage for your shared data.
More than that it’s a fully functional Intranet with the ability to load apps from the store to add new features.
You can also sync data to your laptop to access offline.


Great features but not as widely used as expected

Skype for Business is great for keeping in touch

With colleagues, customers, and suppliers.
With Instant Messaging, Voice and Video calling and conferencing
A host of other useful features for working with your team including screen sharing.

A great tool for taking notes
While organising information with the ability to insert data in many formats.
Share these notes with colleagues via SharePoint, Groups and the Planner. 


Rarely used or new features

Used to create an interactive web-based presentation
Introduced in 2015, I don’t know anyone using this yet.
Add content from various local and web sources and take advantage of some templated features.

Great tool for small business to plan work. Think of this as an electronic whiteboard.
This is fairly new but allows you to create and monitor tasks , including assigning them to your team members.


Please tell me if you're using either of these

The business version of Facebook:
Written by Microsoft, this is an integrated social media site for the business.  
I can't think of anyone using this in a small business.

Search Utility for Office 365: 
This is useful for searching through all the Office 365 content you have permissions to when you need to find information.
See what has changed recently.

Security tools:
Allow you to monitor your data and make sure it doesn’t leak from your company.
You can use this feature to collect information about your data and who is using it.

Microsoft version of YouTube
without the content.
You can store and stream videos from here if you have a need to.


Why buy a Business plan ?

If you’re a small business and want to get the best value for money  you want to look in the following suites. There are other plans but for the money, you only really need to look in these.

  • Office 365 Business Plans
  • Office 365 Enterprise Plans

So first off the costs are surprisingly low, with many of our customers going for the Business Plans. This makes sense for the small business as the 300 user limit is unlikely to affect you and the Premium  plan has everything you need to get started in business.


I would really recommend that you stick with the Business Premium Plan first and then if you really don’t need the latest version of Office go for the Essentials plan.


Why buy an Enterprise plan ?

So if the Business plans are so good why would you use the Enterprise plan, we already mentioned the 300 user limit does not exist on the Enterprise plans but for a Small Business the main reason will be the version of the Office suite.

Originally the Office version in Business Essentials did not include Access, well that just changed its now in there, but the real reason is that you can load this version on a Remote Desktop Server. If you have remote workers who need to connect to your company systems and run a full desktop including office then you need the Office that comes with the E3 plan.

Also, the E5 plan is now available and includes a hosted phone service. If you need a basic hosted phone service then look at the E5 plan. I will write more about that later in another article.


Share this article

Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Have a question? Get in touch.

02392 482556

MDI Networks Limited

Ferryspeed Business Park, Limberline Road, Hilsea, Hampshire, PO3 5JT