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Pros and cons of Office 365 for Business

By CCIWA Editor 

Our culture and workplaces are becoming more mobile. With employees requesting more flexible work options, cloud-based software is increasingly important.

If you’ve been too embarrassed to ask exactly what “the cloud” is, it’s basically a global network of servers that operate all together as one ecosystem.

A business with employees working remotely or who travel often, or who regularly work from home, can benefit from being able to hook into the cloud which contains your word documents, spreadsheets, power-point, email, contacts and much more information. You just need an internet connection.

Rueben Hale, managing director of communications company HalePalmer, says email confusion can cost valuable hours on a large project.

Some other benefits of Microsoft 365 for small to medium business include:

No server: if something happens to your server, it can mean your business cannot function. But with cloud-based software your building could be burned down, and you could still access your documents, contacts and emails!

Collaboration: Office 365 has good collaboration features for teams. Everyone who needs to edit or contribute to a document, spreadsheet or presentation can work on the same version with real time changes.

Shared access: You can share direct access to your files rather than send them as attachments. This means people can review and change one file rather than multiple copies. Versioning is included in case you need to go to back to an older version. Also, the size of a document does not matter.

Document control: Versions save automatically. You can go back to a previous version if you need, but the most current version is always displayed. “With big projects and multiple collaborators, it is a bad look if you accidentally send off the second to last draft! Literally, everybody always remains on the same page,” Hale says.

Platform friendly: Data can be accessed from any device including your mobile phone.

Synchronisation: Emails, calendars and contacts can all be synchronised and used from any platform.

Monthly fee: Sometimes it’s difficult to pay up front. A monthly fee based on the number of users is helpful for some businesses.

Hale says a major drawback for a cloud-based system, such as MS 365, is that if the internet is down, you may not be able to access work.

“If you or your staff work in locations with unreliable internet service, a cloud-based service is probably not the best option for you,” he says.

“There are ways to overcome some of this if you have an expected downtime. Although you won’t be able to access email, you can sync your files to your desktop and use desktop versions of Office programs (if your plan includes them).”

Office 365 is always updating. This can be a positive, but it is a problem if you’re using older applications because they may fall out of sync.

The other thing to consider is cost: “If you’d rather 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,” Hale says.

Our culture and workplaces are becoming more mobile. With employees requesting more flexible work options, cloud-based software is increasingly important.

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