How to provide employee access to Office 365

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Here's the scenario - you're well aware of the potential benefits of Office 365, and are now moving towards deployment. The priority is ensuring all your employees, wherever they are based, are able to take advantage of the online productivity suite. As a business leader, you need to choose an appropriate Office 365 plan, based upon the individual characteristics of your company.

Businesses have a number of options to choose from when embracing Microsoft's popular online productivity suite. There are several Office 365 grades, depending on the number of individual users who need to access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and other software solutions online.

For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), there are three options - all of which are at different price points. And then for larger organisations, there are another three Enterprise plans. In order to ensure your company gains maximum value for money from Office 365, it is important to assess your needs and requirements and choose the package which best suits you circumstances.

Office 365 for SMBs

Microsoft offers two SMB plans - Office 365 Small Business and Office 365 Small Business Premium - which are designed for companies with up to ten employees. Both packages offer subscriptions to Office services, which can be accessed on up to five PCs or devices per user. They also come with hosted email, SkyDrive Pro for filesharing, web conferencing and presence, a public website, online security, customer support, an intranet area and Office Web Apps.

In addition, Office 365 Small Business Premium offers site mailboxes, which allow users to store and share email and documents in project-specific folders. It also includes Office Mobile for iPhone and Android devices. The standard SMB package is priced at £3.30 per user per month, while the premium deal costs £8.40 per user, per month.

Office 365 Midsize Business offers all the same feature as Office 365 Small Business Premium, plus Active Directory integration. This allows subscribers to manage user credentials and permissions. The midsize solution - which costs £9.80 per user, per month - can be made available to up to 300 employees.

Office 365 for larger businesses

Microsoft's Enterprise packages for Office 365 are not limited in terms of the number of users. This means organisations can expand their teams rapidly without having to upgrade to a different tariff.

The first option is the Hosted Email (Exchange Online Plan 1), which, quite simply, provides business-class email services with 50GB of storage space per user. Each individual registered for Office 365 also has access to shared calendars, spam and malware protection and phone support. This entry-level enterprise package is priced at £2.60 per user, per month.

Office 365 Enterprise E1 offers a wider range of features, including hosted email, web conferencing, presence and instant messaging, simple filesharing via SkyDrive Pro, a public website, an intranet, security software and phone support, plus Office Web Apps, Active Directory integration and site mailboxes. The E1 suite costs £5.20 per month for every registered user.

For £15 per user, Office 365 Enterprise E3 package offers all these features, plus the desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Lync and InfoPath. Users can also access, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on iPhones and Android phones, and take advantage of advanced email, advanced voice and business intelligence solutions.

The top-tier package - Office 365 Enterprise E4 - offers the same deal, but with Enterprise voice included. This enhances or replaces traditional PBX phone systems with the call capabilities offered in Lync Server 2013 Plus CAL.

For more information on Office 365, and to help you choose the most appropriate package for your business, click here.

Posted by Alex Boardman