Remote-working has taken centre stage as the world tries to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic. Millions of employees have had their offices closed down and have had to work from home – often at short notice.
Microsoft 365 is the leading cloud-based software solution for business. It facilitates a remote working environment and removes the barriers associated with having to run software on individual machines.
So what is Microsoft 365 and how can it benefit your business?
Essentially, Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based software platform for businesses where various applications and familiar programs can be kept and utilised. There is no need for each program/application to be on each device. Documents can be worked on ‘live’ and shared as needed. Files that are created remain in the cloud unless you opt to download them locally.
Microsoft 365’s main features include:
Outlook – Microsoft’s flagship email program is familiar to many and easy to use. It also includes a calendar, contact ‘cards’, and more. Like all of 365, this can be accessed from a number of devices and locations (provided that there is an Internet connection).
Office Web Apps – Microsoft’s popular programs including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access all have their own app versions in Microsoft 365.
Microsoft Teams – Microsoft’s unified communication program enables greater collaboration through communication. It includes voice/video calling, group meetings, instant messaging and live file-sharing.
Microsoft Planner – this project management tool allows businesses to create workflows and assign individual tasks to the relevant people. Once an employee marks their section as complete, it automatically assigns the next step to the next individual. It even comes with dashboards to help visualise progress and identify blockages, potential conflicts, and efficiencies.
Main benefits of using Microsoft 365
One of the benefits of using Microsoft 365 is the fact that it is subscription-based and charged per user. This means that you only have to pay for what you use and it can often work out cheaper than the traditional method of buying software licenses and having to payout for upgrades/updates. And you can simply add more users as your business grows.
Because the system is cloud-based, your employees can work from anywhere at any time. Work is no longer restricted by premises/location and hours can be altered to suit individuals. Those who are more productive later in the day can start and finish later and any early birds can start earlier and finish earlier. You can also ensure greater responsiveness to queries through careful shift management – most consumers now expect immediate responses to any issues.
Sales staff can access all the data they need remotely and do not have to ask customers to wait for quotes/information and so forth that traditionally would be kept physically in a central office.
Less pressure on ICT infrastructure
With non-cloud-based systems, occasionally there can be times where multiple users simultaneously need to access the server and the server simply cannot cope, resulting in system failures/delays/shutdowns. If you’re using Microsoft 365, this is something that you needn’t worry about as their systems are designed to cope with much larger volumes of traffic.
Microsoft 365 benefits from a Microsoft agreement that promises 99.9% scheduled uptime. They can do this by having multiple datacentres across numerous locations worldwide. This means that your services will stay online even if there is a localised outage. This guarantee means that downtime, if it occurs at all, will be minimal – saving money and hassle.
Collaboration (internal and external) is enhanced thanks to the various sharing, editing, and communication tools in Microsoft 365. It is easy to track document changes, add comments/suggestions, and store files that everyone can access from wherever they work. Microsoft 365 also offers video sharing/conferencing capabilities and it is possible to give access to external partners as well as internal colleagues.
The automatic updating provided by Microsoft 365 ensures that the latest versions of all applications are always available for you to use. This saves time, money, and hassle when compared to traditional methods of manual updating/upgrading.
Microsoft 365 comes with a range of built-in security tools. These include device-specific security policies, the ability to wipe data remotely, and built-in privacy and compliance controls including 128-bit SSL/TSL encryption. Data is stored remotely at hyper-secure datacentres and duplicated across sites.
In summary, Microsoft 365 can benefit your firm in many ways and is surely a big part of the future for many organisations.