As a business owner, one of your goals should be to provide your employees with tools that will make their job easier. Whether it’s handling data or going through manufacturing steps, these tools will ensure quality, save time and conserve the energy of the person who is performing the task.
When it comes to jobs like data entry and passing on communication between different office channels, one of the tools that can be used is Microsoft Office 365.
In the following sections, we will take a look at exactly what Microsoft Office 365 is, who it is for, how it helps your business save money in the first place, and how you can save big money when using Microsoft Office 365.
In this guide...
What Is Microsoft Office 365?
First, let’s have a quick introduction of Microsoft Office 365. As the name implies, it is developed by Microsoft and was initially launched in the market in June 28, 2011.
It is a subscription-based online office suite and software plus service which are built around the MS Office platform. A previous version of the product is Business Productivity Online Suite, also by Microsoft, which was originally designed to provide cloud storage, hosted e-mail, social networking and collaboration.
When the 2013 version of MS Office was released, Office 365 was expanded accordingly and the goal was to cater to different types of businesses. Prior to the official launch, beta testing for the suite began in October 2010. If you’ve never heard of Office 365, what exactly are the services that you will get if you will subscribe to it as a business owner? Through it, all MS Office components can be managed through an online portal.
Other features include the ability to add users manually, import users from a CSV file, and use the single sign-on feature. The suite also has Active Directory, cloud-hosted versions of MS Office server platforms and 1TB of OneDrive storage for each user along with an hour’s worth of phone calls on Skype per month.
Based on the data entry and management needs of your business, there are different MS Office 365 plans that you can go for including:
- Office 365 Personal
- Office 365 Home
- Office 365 Small Business
- Office 365 Small Business Premium
- Office 365 ProPlus
- Office 365 Midsize Business
- Office 365 Enterprise
Similar suites which are available in the market today which are also from Microsoft are: Office Online, Small Business, Enterprise E1, Home, Personal, Small Business Premium, Midsize Business, Enterprise E3, Enterprise E4 and Exchange Online Plan 1.
As indicated on the website of Microsoft, Office 365 gives business owners more power and flexibility in handling data with the familiar interface that they offer as well as Outlook, file sharing, document editing online, conferencing, real-time collaboration and a lot more.
Who Is Microsoft Office 365 For?
Although there are free suites like Web Apps which allow you to manage data, they are seriously limited in terms of features and there is no flexibility at all. In fact, the only thing they’re good for is viewing data, formatting and basic editing. With the desktop version of Office 365, you will get everything you need and more.
This suite is recommended for business owners – big and small – who have to deal with data entry, management, and processing. Initially, you might flinch at the thought of doling out $100 per year for Office 365 but remember that it does support up to five desktop computers and mobile devices.
Instead of buying individual licenses for different computers, Office 365 actually gives you what is similar to bulk discounts when buying similar products.
How Does Office 365 Help Businesses Save Money in the First Place?
For most business owners, the most desirable benefit of Office 365 is its ability to leverage basic office automation. Even if you are already taking advantage of cloud services, you can make use of other features like managing time-off requests, expense reimbursements, service requests and other core business processes.
If you are thinking about subscribing to Microsoft Office 365, how can it help your business save money in the first place? Take a look at the following list:
- According to data management experts, Microsoft Office delivered more than 300% return of investment within a four-month period. This is for composite enterprise organization.
- Office 365 is found to greatly reduce implementation time, thus saving your business a lot of manpower and resources.
- Office 365 eliminates the need for a third-party software. By using something like Forefront Online Protection Exchange, there is no need for you to subscribe to a separate anti-spam and anti-virus software because it is already included with the suite.
- Office 365 helps slash web conferencing costs using the MS Lync Online feature. This platform can be used company-wide, thus cutting off downtime when conducting meetings while also reducing the need for additional software installation.
- Office 365 helps eliminate travel costs because face-to-face meetings can be conducted through the meeting platform; it cuts back on hard IT costs because of the cloud-based solution that it offers; and it boosts general company productivity.
Ways to Save Big Money on Office 365
Now that you already have an idea about what Microsoft Office 365 is, how can you save big money when using the suite for your business? Here are the top three techniques:
1. Get a free month
As mentioned earlier, the basic cost of subscribing to Microsoft Office 365 is $100 per year or $10 per month. There are many reasons why you would want to do this, starting from having access to MS Office on multiple Macs or PCs, getting the 27GB data on OneDrive cloud storage, or getting the free Skype world minutes per month.
To save money on Microsoft Office 365, you can sign up for a free one-month trial. For this, you need to set up a free Microsoft account if you don’t already have one. Just keep in mind that you will be billed $10 before the free month is up – so remember to cancel if you found ways to get Microsoft Office 365 without signing up with Microsoft, which we will talk more about in the next entry.
2. Look for alternative sources for Office 365
Since you are subscribing to Microsoft Office 365, it naturally makes sense to get it from Microsoft, right? Not necessarily, especially if your goal is to save big money.
Let’s say that you did sign up for the trial period and that time is up. By now, you would already have an idea about whether you are willing to commit to using Microsoft Office 365 for an entire year based on the experience that you had. If you think that the subscription is worth it, what you can do is make an in-app purchase using your iPad, or you can look for a discounted subscription key card. In-app, you can save a significant amount of money because they offer pretty good discounts.
Through Amazon, you can purchase a subscription key card for less than $70 – so that’s a good deal especially if you will subscribe for a full year. After getting the subscription key card in the mail, you need to activate your subscription by logging into your Microsoft account. After keying in your info, choose the Activate Office with a Product Key option and enter the 25-digit code. Using the code, you can use Microsoft Office 365 for more than 30% of the original cost for an entire year.
3. Stock up codes in order to subscribe for multiple years
Finally, you can stock up on codes in order to subscribe to Microsoft Office 365 for multiple years. This trick is something that Microsoft does not advertise, but you can stock up on codes so that you can subscribe for a good number of years. Purchase two or more cards from Amazon.com.
Then, revisit the activation page and key in the codes for each one. After hitting the submit button, you can extend your subscription for another 12 months – and again, it will be at a discounted rate. You can be on the lookout for product key cards in the future, and use the code to extend your subscription. This can be done as long as your Microsoft Office 365 subscription is active.
To sum it all up, Microsoft Office 365 is a very useful, all-in-one tool that offers seamless MS Outlook synchronization as well as a slew of other features. It allows you to work online or offline; access e-mail, calendar and your contacts list anytime; it offers mobile support; easy collaboration with colleagues; and group communication through instant messaging and online conferencing.
No matter what the nature of your business is, you will find that the cost of a monthly or yearly subscription with Microsoft Office 365 is well worth it considering all the features that you can enjoy.