Office productivity software is a topic that often does not receive the attention it deserves in most organizations. The latest technology trends like “Big Data”, “Containerization”, “In Memory Computing”, “Analytics” and “Artificial Intelligence” often receive the most buzz. Many jumping on the latest technology bandwagon often miss a tremendous efficiency and productivity opportunity right in plain sight. This is an opportunity that directly impacts how employees work, collaborate and communicate and how companies support and invest in those activities.
Office 365 is a Cloud service offered by Microsoft with more than 100 million active commercial users as of March 2017 . It presents customers with a suite of integrated products that include productivity, communication and collaboration tools supported by advanced security, compliance and administration features. Microsoft provides Office 365 as a Cloud subscription that can be rightsized to a company’s budget, strategic goals and employee needs.
What is Office 365?
Most business users are familiar with Microsoft products including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Office 365 takes these products to a new level. It bundles them into various Cloud based subscription packages designed to allow a customer the flexibility to select a plan that matches their budget and need. Office 365 provides a menu of integrated products and services that can be customized to fit the smallest or largest of companies .
Microsoft Office 365 plans can include:
Office 365 is constantly evolving as Microsoft updates the available list of products and services with new options like Bookings  and StaffHub .
Microsoft Bookings is an Office 365 application designed to help small businesses who provide appointment based services to more easily and efficiently manage the appointment cycle. A business sets up and customizes services, staff, schedules, business hours and pricing. Then Bookings allows customers, through an easy to use web page, to schedule and manage appointments. This product fits well into the business workflow and needs for many hair and nail salons, dental offices, spas, law firms, financial services providers, consultants and auto shops.
Microsoft StaffHub is an Office 365 application designed to help the estimated 500 million frontline workers worldwide manage their workday . StaffHub allows managers or supervisors to create, update and manage shift schedules, distribute information or communicate with their team. Employees utilize the StaffHub mobile App to access shift information and easily swap shifts with others. It fits well into the business workflow and needs for many retail stores, hotels, restaurants, manufacturing and other service-related industries.
Investment and Cost Options
Not every company or budget is the same so Microsoft provides customers with many choices and payment options for Office 365 services.
The available subscription packages allow a business to customize and right size Office 365 based on size and needs, down to an individual employee. From the most basic plans offering Email Only to Enterprise plans that include a comprehensive suite of productivity applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business, Access), PBX integration, meeting broadcast for up to 10,000 participants, Workflow Automation, Archiving and Retention and several other features.
Payment options are also very flexible with two types depending on selected service .
Monthly commitment payment*: Customers pay month to month and can cancel at any time.
Annual commitment payment: Customers sign up for a one-year subscription with the option to pay month to month or pay for the entire year at the time of sign up.
*Not every Office 365 service is available for monthly commitment payment
Microsoft also offers traditional enterprise agreement customers volume licensing discounts. These services are traditionally available to organizations purchasing more than 250 licenses.
A Microsoft Certified Partner, Microsoft Representative or visit to a dedicated Enterprise focused website section can help customers understand the Enterprise options available to them.
Microsoft Enterprise Agreement Portal 
Why Move to Office 365?
There are many compelling reasons for a business to consider moving to Office 365.
Office 365 includes many of the same Office applications businesses have used for years.
In addition to standard desktop software, many Office 365 subscription packages offer full web access allowing access to email and files through browser optimized versions of many Office programs including Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel from almost any location or device with Internet access.
A single Office 365 subscription or license of most products and services allows for up to 5 installations on many different device types including platform enhanced versions for Windows PCs, Macs, Android and iOS based phones and tablets.
Collaboration and Sharing
Many Office 365 applications allow for easy collaboration and sharing allowing employees the ability to work together in real time. Co-authoring allows multiple people the ability to work and see changes and updates in the same document at the same time. Integrated activity feed and version history log actions and changes for easy review of who did what and when or the ability to go back to an earlier version. Many Office 365 applications also allow for the start of a document on one device and review and edit of the same document on another device.
Office 365 also allows for the management of permissions, sharing and invitation of others to edit or view documents.
Some businesses, especially smaller ones, are historically a patchwork of different versions and releases of Microsoft Office. Office 365 helps companies standardize and stay congruent on the latest version of Office 365 software and tools allowing employees to better work together and take advantage of new features and functionality.
Always up to date
Microsoft provides regular updates to the features, functionality, administration and security of Office 365. This includes version upgrades which allows a business to always have the latest releases.
Eliminate Rogue Subscription Software
Office 365 can help eliminate the cost and headache of managing multiple disparate and duplicated file sharing, messaging or meeting applications. Many Office 365 subscription packages include One Drive for Business and Skype for Business. This is very important in highly regulated industries where services need to comply with PCI, HIPAA or other important requirements and companies need to standardize and control where and how data is stored and information is shared.
Available Training and Resources
Microsoft provides comprehensive video training roadmaps, training and help files that allow a company to maximize benefits from their subscription. Companies can easily create a comprehensive and customized Office 365 training curriculum or employees can explore, learn and get answers as they work.
Office 365 services can be matched to the employee and their needs allowing a company to closely align the purchase of products and services with job function.
Agility, Scalability and Deployment
Office 365 provides a company the ability to deploy or scale quickly as a business changes through a robust administrative portal designed to accommodate and grow with companies with two (2) to ten thousand (10,000) or more employees.
The administrative portal provides maximum flexibility in set up offering businesses the opportunity to highly customize or follow standard and template driven set up, rollout or migration tasks. It also allows for the monitoring, management and quick addition and assignment of new services, features or employees.
Microsoft provides a guaranteed 99.9% uptime, financially backed service level agreement (SLA) and the technical expertise and resources of Microsoft and their data and security network.
Compliance, Security and Privacy
Compliance, security and privacy of systems and data is often a complex, time-consuming and poorly understood activity for most businesses. Microsoft has expertise and resources most businesses don’t have or can’t afford working to protect critical assets.
Office 365, takes data and communication security seriously by providing access to resources, tools and features designed to help businesses protect Office 365 including a dedicated Security & Compliance Center to help monitor and manage compliance and protection.
There are many included and built-in security, compliance and data governance features, as well as a range of options, to accommodate additional needs or regulatory requirements. Some highlighted features include robust monitoring, encryption, mobile management, archiving, multi-factor authentication, anti-spoofing, anti-malware and logging.
A Microsoft Certified Partner, Microsoft Representative or visit to a dedicated Office 365 Enterprise focused security website section can help customers understand the Compliance, Security and Privacy features and options available to them.
Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise Portal (Security & Compliance, Protect against threats overview) 
Office 365 can be a real game changer for many businesses by providing a suite of integrated applications that includes productivity, communication and collaboration tools supported by advanced security, compliance and administration features.
Taking full advantage of this opportunity in plain sight allows businesses of all shapes and sizes to have the confidence and peace of mind that they have the right tools at the right price available to empower their employees to do great things, today, tomorrow and in the future.
References and Citations
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft Investor Relations Website Section, Earnings Release FY17 Q3 Call Transcript”, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Investor/earnings/FY-2017-Q3/press-release-webcast, 4/27/2017
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft Explore Office 365 Website Section,”, https://products.office.com/en-us/business/explore-office-365-for-business, 8/1/2017
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft Bookings Website Section,”, https://products.office.com/en-us/business/scheduling-and-booking-app, 8/1/2017
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft StaffHub Website Section,”, https://staffhub.office.com/, 8/1/2017
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft Office Blog Website Section,”, https://blogs.office.com/en-us/2017/01/12/microsoft-staffhub-is-here/, 8/1/2017
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft Office 365 for Business Frequently Asked Questions Website Section,”, https://products.office.com/en-us/business/microsoft-office-365-frequently-asked-questions, 8/1/2017
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft Office 365 Licensing Website Section,”, https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/licensing/licensing-programs/enterprise.aspx#tab=4, 8/1/2017
- Microsoft Website, “Microsoft Office 365 Information Enterprise Website Section, Security & Compliance → Protect against threats in Office 365”, https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Protect-against-threats-in-Office-365-b10023f6-f30f-45d3-b3ad-b71aa4aa0d58, 8/1/2017