Guide: Office 365 DIY – For Micro-business, Professionals and non-Tech Start-ups

Posted by Nilay Parikh and last modified on Tue Jun 12, 2018.

As an ex-entrepreneur and technology co-sourcer, I understand the unique challenges that micro-businesses, professionals and start-ups face in their early days. Last week, while speaking with a group of young non-tech start-up owners and founders, an interesting topic stood out of friendly talks.

On an average they have spent 12 grand on their business IT (does not include Hardware cost) needs within their first year. This is a decorative value for any non-tech start-up to commit on their balance-sheet. I decided to keep “mine extremely surprised face” up to me and asked them, what were these expenses for? and what are such business drivers?

These are most common business drivers, I found.

  • Communications
  • Improving Productivity
  • Information and File Management (i.e. Inventory, Contracts, Financial, CRM, HR)
  • Employee Motivation

I accept that these are valid business drivers, but the higher cost was due to acquisition of standalone services. The cost of integrating different services was affecting their overall productivity and bespoke development cost to automate and integrate these services was taking a big slice of their overall IT costs.

So, the next question, does there such product exists that can do everything for me? - The answer is NO. However, there are products those offer essential IT and easy to integrate with other Line of Business applications (i.e. Financial, HR, CRM).

I evaluated two cloud services Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite to understand their use cases.

Argument

The decision is difficult, but if you and your team are familiar with Microsoft Office or need an PC Microsoft Office Suite than there is a natural choice for you. Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions1 offers online and offline options. PC or MAC installs are covered by your Office 365 subscriptions1.

Google G Suite and Office 365 Business Essentials are comparable, they both offers The Web only interfaces therefore if you are not connected to the internet (or in the case of an outage) - you are offline. That is the biggest drawback regarding business continuity.

Gmail, Calendar and Google Docs let users view, edit and create content when they are not on the Internet, syncing automatically when they reconnect. Reference

I do not buy Google’s argument; offline support means that there is no impediment to a user accessing the software as they do while they are online. Only Google Drive is truly offline as it synchronises document to a local drive. The user can not search for within e-mails, contacts or calendar when they are offline because they are not synchronised to local machine.

If this argument is a show-stopper then Microsoft Office 365 Business Edition ($8.25 user/month)1 or higher subscription is your answer. Rest I leave up to your own research, I would like a step-away from conclusive remarks.

I can recommend that you should try trial period for both productivity suites and evaluate yourself.

1 Office Application are not available to some plans, i.e. Office 365 Business Essentials.

Office 365 DIY Series

1. Guide: Economics of Productivity Suites

2. Guide: Overview of Microsoft Office 365 from Micro-business, Professionals and non-Tech Start-ups

3. Guide: How to add custom domain to Office 365

4. Guide: How to create user and setup an Outlook 365, a Skype Business and an OneDrive for Business account

5. Guide: Setup Groups and Shared mailboxes in Microsoft Office 365

6. Guide: Setup Microsoft Office Application on your local machine (PC/MAC)

Conclusion

If you use Microsoft on-premises technology, then natural route forward is to Office 365. Users would see easy and confirmable transition if they are attached to Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

On user motivation and experience, Office 365 and Windows 10 integrates natively with Azure Active Directory; it would provide secure single sign-on (SSO). Office 365 provides better Offline experience than G Suite.

Office 365 comes with larger service portfolio than G Suite. i.e. SharePoint Online, Microsoft Flow, Microsoft Teams, PowerApps, PowerBI, etc. For advance use case, I feel Microsoft Office 365 is a good choice.

On other counts, I do not see much difference between G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 as far as productivity web suite.

Disclaimer

Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent any other person or organisation. THE ARTICLE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHOR(S) OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY.

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