A Business Guide to Office 365

Mar 18, 2019 | Business

Most people think Microsoft’s Office 365 is Word/Excel/PowerPoint and a bit of email in the cloud.

It’s not.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s name for a suite of software and technology solutions which are available as a subscription.

There are five key elements we’ll be discussing and how they can benefit your business.

The five key elements are:

  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Microsoft SharePoint Online
  • Microsoft Office 365 Applications
  • Microsoft OneDrive for Business
  • Microsoft Skype for Business (formerly Lync Online)

Microsoft Exchange Online

Simply put, this is your business email system in the cloud. Back in 2009 when the word “cloud” was relatively new, most businesses were sceptical of anything related to it.  IT managers were up in arms about moving email to the cloud, but that’s all changed.

Why? Well, it’s common sense really. Your email system at home is probably with a service provider like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo – you’ve never had a problem with it – it just works.

The business email system is an entirely different story. You need a server on-site, someone to manage the server, take backups and make sure it’s secure, working and a stable internet connection.

There’s a lot of overhead in the on-premise email server (hidden costs) as well as a lot of risks built into the system.

Fortunately, most IT professionals have seen the light and email in the cloud is the new normal, anything else is either a risk to your business or an additional cost if you look closely enough.

A few of the main benefits are anti-spam, email security, and backups are all taken care of by Microsoft Exchange online.

What’s the most beautiful part of this service?  Its ease of use and management for your IT supplier or department.  Because of this, it reduces time spent managing the system which affects the bottom line of your business.

Simple?  Well, let’s get onto something a bit more complicated…

Microsoft SharePoint Online

SharePoint is like a blank canvas we could talk to sundown on what the possibilities are. Let your imagination go wild – it’s all possible in SharePoint.

There are even companies that exist who only deal with SharePoint, but this is an overview so we’ll stick to the basics and what you should be thinking of using it for and how to get the most value out of it without employing a SharePoint specialist.

SharePoint Online allows you to create private websites to assist with the “sharing of information” in your business.

SharePoint sites are hosted within the Microsoft cloud, so there’s no need for a server or maintenance – just like Exchange Online, it’s super simple to get things started. But what do we start?

Well, getting the basics right, asking the correct questions, such as:

What information would you like to share within your company that can be accessed from anywhere? SharePoint is not a replacement for an existing file server that might store your files centrally.

It’s an addition and should be thought of as such otherwise you run the risk of confusing staff and paying for something you don’t need.

SharePoint makes it easy to communicate and share critical information within the company, but if it’s only one file that you’re sharing between two staff members as email attachments – SharePoint is not going make anything more efficient for you.

Where SharePoint works best:

  • Central communication area for staff and company information internal communications channel.
  • Repository for company policies & procedures.
  • Work flow management for business processes.
  • Document management, store, track, audit, and trace.
  • Team sites & project work.
  • Extranet sites and client portals.

This is by no means a definitive list, as mentioned SharePoint is like a blank canvas, it’s all about getting the basics right.

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Microsoft Office 365 Applications

At Office 365’s core is the standard list of desktop applications everyone in business is familiar with.  As of 2019, the core applications are also available on not only your desktop PC or Mac, but also Android and Apple phones & tablets.

The old way or purchasing Microsoft Office required an actual physical CD/DVD or download copy of Office 2007, Office 2010, Office 2013. You get the idea, basically the version you purchased is the version you were stuck with.

As part of the Office 365, license subscription you’re entitled to the latest version of Office 365.

Why is this good for your business?

Well, it means your staff are always on the latest version across the whole company – no legacy problems with 13+ year-old excel documents that hold the company account formulas and can only be opened by a select few computers.

OneDrive for Business

OneDrive is Microsoft’s answer to Dropbox.  Every user gets a huge 1TB of space as standard.

The OneDrive application sits in your desktop tray and integrates with all Office applications and Microsoft Windows. OneDrive acts as a personal storage area where you can save files to.

The OneDrive application syncs these files to your OneDrive account up in the cloud. Because the files are synced to the cloud, it gives you the ability to access and save files no matter where you are and on what device.

Skype for Business 

Formerly called Microsoft Lync, this application has been around for a good few years now.  It also integrates with your Outlook calendar.

It’s also a handy tool in the office for instant messaging between colleagues or clients.  You can get an instant reply to a question you might have without the need to send an email, which can result in a series of internal emails.

Once your colleagues and yourself get into the habit of using this application, you can reduce the number of internal email communications within the business.


This rounds up the overview of Office 365.  Hopefully I’ve painted a good picture of what Office 365 is. If you have any questions or would like more information about Office 365 for your business, then feel free to get in touch with us.

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