What are the advantages of moving to Microsoft 365?

For many businesses that have acquired Microsoft Office products on a one-time cost basis, licensing Microsoft 365 through a subscription model represents a major change. But as the saying goes, ‘Where there’s change, there’s an opportunity’. With this in mind, let’s talk about the business benefits of moving to Microsoft 365.

Windows End of Life

One of the biggest reasons for moving to Microsoft 365 is that Microsoft is replacing its desktop products with subscription-based cloud solutions. This doesn’t just include the full Microsoft 365 suite, but Windows too. The benefit to Microsoft customers is that they will have access to the latest version of the software, with automatic updates and upgrades. Although there are still IT Security risks, the chances of being hacked or falling foul of malware is less than if you were operating expired software.

Reduced Costs

Besides enhanced capabilities, moving to Microsoft 365 can offer several cost-saving benefits for businesses. Here are a few ways that businesses can save money by making the switch:

  • Lower upfront costs: With Microsoft 365, businesses pay a monthly or annual subscription fee, which can be more affordable than a large upfront cost for software licences.
  • Reduced IT costs: Microsoft 365 is cloud-based, which can help reduce IT costs by eliminating the need to maintain and upgrade on-premise servers and hardware.
  • Scalability: Microsoft 365 allows businesses to easily scale their software licenses up or down based on their changing needs. This can help you avoid paying for more licences than your business requires.
  • Collaboration: Microsoft 365 includes a suite of collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive, which together can help your business save in other areas.
  • Automatic updates: Microsoft 365 includes automatic updates, which can help businesses stay up-to-date with the latest software features and security updates without incurring additional costs.

Enhanced Functionality

Many business management resources, conferencing tools, document and file management planning features, and even backup can be found within Microsoft 365.

Almost every business that we support in moving to Microsoft 365, discovers a software capability that they were previously unaware of. The chances are, if you have not yet switched over, your employees will be using several different applications such as Zoom, Google Docs, Slack and more… many of which may have started as a free version but have since become a cost.

In moving to Microsoft 365, you all but eliminate the need for those apps as you benefit from integration – your documents, storage, workflows, Teams calls, and other tools all talk to one another, making everything far more efficient.

Key Microsoft 365 Features

Microsoft Teams and Groups

Replaces: Slack and Zoom

Microsoft Teams is a collaborative application within the Microsoft 365 suite that allows individuals and teams to collaborate in real-time. Integrating with other Microsoft 365 apps such as SharePoint, OneNote, and OneDrive, it has plenty of business benefits. Essentially, it allows for entire departments to work together more fluidly. Employees can chat and file share with one another in real-time, create and manage task lists, customise their ‘online workspace’, and integrate with other software such as Sage and other departmental apps such as Adobe Creative Cloud.

Microsoft Teams originates from Microsoft Groups. As a collaborative tool, Microsoft Groups allows you to choose a ‘group’ of people for you to share resources and work with on a project.

You can create Microsoft 365 Groups from several different Microsoft 365 tools including Outlook, SharePoint, Planner, Teams and more. The type of group you’re working with will determine the tool you start with. For example, you’ll likely start with Outlook when we’re creating a Group organised around emails and calendars. If you have a company-wide message to send out, you may wish to begin with Yammer (more on this in a while). For virtual meetings, we’d start our Group from Microsoft Teams.

The advantages of creating a Team, of course, is that with each project your employees can work seamlessly together to complete their tasks on time – there’s far less room for miscommunication.

Microsoft Planner

Replaces: Trello, Basecamp, Monday and the like

Another fantastic lesser-known tool within Microsoft 365 is Microsoft Planner. As a task management tool, it allows teams to create and assign tasks, track progress and collaborate on projects and works seamlessly with Teams, Outlook and SharePoint.

It’s quite clever. Project managers can create and assign tasks to individual team members, with due dates, descriptions and attachments – much like you would in other commercial project management apps, just with the integration! Team members can share their comments, files and delegate tasks.

Much like other online planning tools, you can move your tasks, or ‘cards’ as they are known in MS Planner, into different project stages. You can also set your own categories so that everyone within the team understands the next steps for that task.

Microsoft SharePoint

Replaces: traditional staff intranets

SharePoint, also comes with Microsoft 365, is as Microsoft describes, “a document management and intranet platform where you store, collaborate and share information across the entire organisation.” Basically, it enables businesses to automate processes, track progress, and securely share information across departments.

SharePoint is best known for its document management capabilities where you can even version control, check-in-/check-out and approve document workflows. The software also acts as a central point for business intelligence with various reporting on workflows and productivity.

Other helpful MS 365 functions

There are a few other smart tools found in Microsoft 365 that can help quicken admin tasks, including Office Lens, AI-powered presentation tools, resume reading, intelligent emails and more.

Resume Reading

If you or your team have long documents, such as reports, legal documents or research papers that require reviewing, you can use Microsoft 365’s Resume Reading feature to pick up where you left off in a document, presentation or workbook. Best of all, the feature works across all devices, so an employee can switch between their desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone and still resume reading or editing.

AI-powered Presenter Coach

If you’re nervous about delivering a presentation, Microsoft 365’s Speaker Coach may help as a rehearsal tool. You record yourself delivering your presentation and after each delivery, Speaker Coach, generates a report that includes statistics on pace and legibility, with suggestions for improvement.

Office Lens

This applies more to in-person meetings than to MS Teams calls (as these can be transcribed) but you can take photos of the notes you’ve written on a pad or whiteboard, save them digitally, and using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Office Lens will read your notes and help you search for ideas.

Unclutter your emails

Focused Inbox is a feature available in Microsoft’s email service, Outlook, that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help users prioritize their emails. The feature separates important emails from less important ones, and displays them in two separate tabs: “Focused” and “Other.” It’s pretty clever. It takes into account the user’s past behaviour, such as which emails they have replied to or forwarded, as well as the content of the email itself, such as keywords and the sender’s address. Emails that are identified as important are placed in the “Focused” tab, while less important emails are placed in the “Other” tab.

Final thoughts on moving to Microsoft 365

In summary, Microsoft 365 is awash with clever applications and tools to improve the day-to-day efficiency of your business. What’s more, it’s easy to use and adopt, provided that moving to Microsoft 365 is planned, your employees receive training in applications that are new to them, and your data is fully backed-up – having access to OneDrive is not the same thing!

Even if you are just thinking about moving to Microsoft 365, please reach out to us. We’re more than happy to help.