Microsoft Office 365 is one of the premier administrative and organizational tools used in the business world today. The integrated array of apps that Office 365 contains can help SMBs and enterprise organizations alike to optimize productivity, strengthen intra-company lines of communication, and effectively manage vital business processes on a daily basis.
One of Office's biggest advantages is its high level of customization. For example, companies have the option to subscribe to one of several monthly plans, according to their specific business needs. This article will discuss features of Microsoft Office 365's three main small business plans, the costs associated with each one, and how you can determine which subscription is the right one for your company.
Microsoft Office 365 Plans for Small Businesses
Microsoft Office 365 includes the following three subscription plans especially designed for small to mid-size businesses:
- Office 365 Business
- Office 365 Business Premium
- Office 365 Essentials
These three plans share many features in common, such as the inclusion of Web versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as 1 terabyte of OneDrive storage for file storage and sharing. However, there are also significant differences between the three plans.
Comparison of Features
Microsoft Office 365 Business includes the following features:
- Desktop versions of Office Apps for PC and Mac (up to 5 separate installations)
- Up to date Web versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
- OneDrive sharing and storage capabilities
- 24/7 phone and online support
- Up to 300 users
Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium offers the same benefits of the baseline Business plan, and adds these features into the mix:
- The capability to host online meetings/conference calls for up to 250 participants via Microsoft Teams
- The ability to create dedicated team sites on the company intranet for collaboration purposes by using SharePoint
- Email hosting with a 50 gigabyte mailbox
- Use of a custom domain name for email addresses
- Ability to utilize SharePoint for file sharing
- Protection against malware and spam from Exchange Online Protection
- A basic CRM solution with Outlook Customer Manager
- A mobile invoicing solution with Microsoft Invoicing
In contrast with the above plans, Microsoft Office 365 Essentials includes only the Web and mobile versions of the main Office apps (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access).
However, it features almost all of the same services as the Premium plan, except for some value-adding tools such as Outlook Customer Manager and Microsoft Invoicing. Additionally, Essentials does not include the basic archiving feature of advanced email policy that Premium does.
In summary, the major functional difference between Office 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium is the inclusion of Microsoft's email hosting services in the latter plan. The major difference between Office 365 Essentials and the other two plans is the lack of desktop versions for Microsoft's main apps.
Costs of Office 365 Plans
The costs of these three subscriptions are usually billed on a monthly basis, and vary according to plan and provider.
For companies that purchase directly from Microsoft, the monthly costs for each plan are as follows:
- For Office 365 Business, $8.25 per user with an annual commitment
- For Office 365 Business Premium, $12.50 per user with an annual commitment
- For Office 365 Essentials, $5.00 per user, also with an annual commitment
However, the costs normally associated with these plans can often be reduced by purchasing them through a 3rd party provider. For example, WheelHouse IT offers their clients these same three subscription options at much lower rates when accompanied by a Managed IT Services plan (and an annual commitment). WheelHouse's monthly rates are as follows:
- For Office 365 Business, $3.30 per user
- For Office 365 Business Premium, $7.50 per user
- For Office 365 Essentials, there is no cost
Which Plan is Right for Your Business?
In order to determine which of these three Office 365 plans would work best for your business, you'll need to consider several important factors, three of which could include:
- Functionalities required.
You'll need to determine which features are critical to your business, and which features would prove superfluous.
For instance, businesses that require a robust solution to facilitate intra-company collaboration may decide to purchase the Office 365 Business Premium plan for its inclusion of SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
On the other hand, if collaboration can be effectively accomplished by other means, company leaders may decide to subscribe to the basic Business plan instead.
- Pre-existing investments.
It is wise to examine the status of current investments before making a final decision. As an example, a company that does not want to switch over its email to Microsoft's servers may decide that the Office 365 Business plan is a better option than the Premium package.
Moreover, a company that has already invested in business applications on its intranet may decide that Office 365 Essentials is the preferred choice, due to its email and Cloud storage management capabilities that don't require the installation of desktop programs.
- Future needs.
If you foresee potential changes coming to your business in the near future, it may be wise to choose a subscription plan that will meet not only current, but also future organizational needs.
For example, anticipated video conferencing needs in the future may prompt a business to subscribe to Microsoft's Premium plan for its hosting capabilities.
At WheelHouse IT, our dedicated experts can assist you to choose the right Office 365 plan for your particular circumstances and business needs. In addition, when you partner with us for managed IT services, we provide highly discounted subscription rates for these critical functionalities.
Microsoft Office 365 is one of the best organizational, administrative, and management platforms available on the market today. If you'd like to learn more about how Microsoft Office 365 can benefit your company, or any of our IT, administrative, or marketing solutions, reach out to us today for further information.