Office365, hosted by Microsoft
This is the best place to start your online journey to the cloud! It's got the fastest return on effort, the quickest way to lower your existing costs, and the best potential for demonstrating why you'll love being Online. There are three services that make up Office365, with a variety of pricing plans for every business's budget. Let's take a look at all that is included in Office365:
This is the service that you should be using for absolutely sure. If you're on Gmail or Hotmail or POP3 or AOL (jeez Louise!), your efficiency will skyrocket using a Microsoft Exchange server for email. Used in conjunction with Outlook and a smartphone, you'll deal with email messages one time only (well, you're able to do that... whether you act on the email is up to you). Create or delete or move emails on your phone and when you return to the office, they're created, deleted, or moved in Outlook. Log in from any PC on the planet to Outlook Web Access, create or delete or move messages and the same thing happens. Use Outlook Appointments and invitations to help insure that your people will make the meeting — time zone issues are eliminated since Exchange gets it right. You can even share calendars and allow an assistant to be your delegate to schedule for you. If you're hosting an Exchange server (or Small Business Server) in your office, now is the time to examine how much you're really paying for that. Figure in the server, the software, the bandwidth it takes for everyone to connect to it, and the cost of your computer guy who supports it. $8 per month per user is an amazing bargain, especially when you consider it includes all the other services below! Microsoft is managing this for you, along with hundreds of thousands of other businesses all over the world. You get all the benefits of a world class email system, including powerful spam filtering and anti-malware, for not much money.
SharePoint is the Swiss army knife of software — it does so many different things that it's hard for people to get their heads around it. These are the main functions that you'll use it for — there are others but this is a great starting point:
- Collaboration: when you read our Online Manifesto you'll see how collaboration has bubbled to the top of the stack for the future of business. SharePoint allows you to involve not only your employees but also customers, vendors, and outside reps in your operation. You can give them access to private secure sites where you can share files and post documents that need attention. Use new tools such as wikis and blogs to involve people in the flow of business. You can have multiple people work on the same document by checking out/checking in the file and let SharePoint manage the version control.
- File Storage and Search: keep files securely stored in the cloud, and search through them instantly to find what you need. This will replace the in-house server you're using now as a "shared drive" — it moves to the cloud and Microsoft can manage it for you. Let's say you remember writing a proposal to a client but you can't remember the title of the document (that's never happened to you, right?). Just search inside SharePoint and you'll get a list of documents with that phrase in it — instantly! Keep common sales literature and graphics available for your team members to get to in one place.
Skype for Business
Here's that collaboration word again, this time used for online meetings powered by Microsoft Skype for Business. Using Outlook as your cockpit, send out an invitation appointment to lock in your attendees, then start the meeting at the designated time. Share your PC's screen or have an attendee share theirs. Make presentations, give demos, negotiate contracts, craft a proposal with another teammate far away, pretend you're in front of a whiteboard and draw out your ideas, and more and more. Take over another PC and operate it as if you were in their chair or give someone training using their local materials. Turn on your camera or theirs and see what's happening in real time. It's an amazing new way to work — it saves travel expenses but most of all, it saves time and makes everyone more productive!
Using the free Skype for Business Desktop software, this provides your organization with next-generation communications capabilities, including presence, instant messaging (IM), and PC-to-PC audio and video calling. Presence and IM means you can see which people in your company are online and available, listed in a single window like a "buddy list". Click on their name and start an instant messaging chat — it's encrypted IM so it's secure. When you're finished with the chat, it's automatically saved in your Outlook so you can always go back and search the contents. If you're located on the same network, you can use your PC's microphone and speakers to make voice and video calls to another co-worker. This is the start of using Outlook as your phone system!
check out these resources
Here are some links to Microsoft resources that will give you more detailed information about the different parts of Office365 Suite. Just click the Back button on your browser to return to this site to see more.
Check out the different Plans for Office365
More about Exchange Online
More about SharePoint Online
More about Skype for Business
More about Office Web Apps
Sign up for a 30 day trial of Office365!
let's talk about your business
Our coaches at Living Business Online have done this for other small businesses like yours. It's not rocket science to convert your operation into Office365 but it's a process, not an event. You won't wake up tomorrow and have everything magically changed over. We'll work with you to develop a migration plan and schedule the "going live" switch to be as painless as possible. Contact us below by either the WriteToUs form or ClickToTalk and tell us your situation. We'll listen and see what we think Office365 can do for your business.