Microsoft 365 Business Review

Great architecture, easy and intuitive with a competitive pricing structure

What is our primary use case?

As a business intelligence specialist and business owner, I primarily use the standard apps in this solution. I enjoy the fact that there's a smorgasbord of additional apps that make for great productivity within the business - especially when you realize what all the apps can do for your business.

How has it helped my organization?

MS365 Business has offered me a robust infrastructure with the out of the box standard offering but also provided amazing apps and features to encourage growth in other areas of my business.

What is most valuable?

I like that the standard solution is easy and intuitive. It's worth taking the time to go and poke around all the other apps, though. 

There are rules of engagement that are important to know and it can be overwhelming at first if you're never been a Sysadmin. The Apps within the solution provide different business functions so you don't have to hire anyone - you can actually do most of it yourself. It's a huge cost saving for a small business and with the subscription, it's actually much cheaper than buying the products outright, as you would have had to do in the past. You can get everything you need for a reasonable price e.g. if you wanted, say, five features/ functionality you'd pay between $100 and $1000 for each, potentially spending close to $5000 once off but then next year arrives and you need to buy the next version and again you're spending precious funds. Instead, with subscription plans, you get between ~20 features/ functions. My plan, plus the add-on Apps costs my business $12.50x2 + $30 +$9.99  per month = $780 annually - the key is TODAY'S cash stays in my pocket.

You have to buy licenses for everything, but the pricing structure is very competitive. From a small business perspective, there's lots of advantages to going with 365, because not only are you getting the standard tool set to actually just run a standard business, but you're getting add-on Apps/features that open up opportunities that you might not have thought of and... the realization that you don't have to pay another entity because you can do it yourself e.g. sway and bookings

What needs improvement?

I think where Microsoft could help with the product is to perhaps have an agent/ comprehensive start up video, that can assist with the initial setup since you're now dealing with several admin panels. You can learn it yourself but there are certain tips and tricks that could much more easily be communicated in a conversation. For example, know that if you go into an admin portal, you're going to need five things; and you need those five things before you go into the portal and they each may need their own setup/initiation.

I submitted a good few support tickets early on because some of it was a bit overwhelming. When you're a small business and you suddenly realize that there are various admin portals which all do different things and you set something up in this portal and then you have to go set something up in another portal and connect the dots. If you don't know to do that and you haven't yet read ALL the documentation, it can be very overwhelming and you can feel a little lost. But once you get your head around it all, it's quite brilliant - the architecture and how they set everything up in the background.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using the MS365 Business standard plan for two months. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability of this solution is superb. No issues. Just know that when you make updates or edits in the admin panels, the change(s) may not take effect instantaneously, in some cases.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

I haven't tested scalability as we are a new business, just starting out. There is only one other person working with me and I purchased two licenses even though the other person in the company doesn't yet use the product. You have to have one license per user even though each user gets to load it/ use the license on several other devices. It might be a waste but I wanted to do the right thing. It would be helpful if they provided an option for two licenses so you could legitimately have it on a second computer. 

I've bought additional licenses for other apps because my business is going to be delivering a very comprehensive business intelligence/ project management service offering. I expect to expand use and embark on several upgrade routes available to me, when the time is right.

How are customer service and technical support?

Very responsive, thorough and professional. Just be aware that they have teams with specialities and they don't cross lines e.g. I needed help with Power BI so you have to specify that in your ticket or deal with a generalist who will not be able to help you. I learned to state the product first then state your issue.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've used Google in business as well, and I like the ability of being able to collaborate that they offer, but Microsoft 365 actually fixed that and you are now able to collaborate in the documents e.g. Word and Excel. So I really didn't see the need to stick with Google. The only thing that Microsoft wasn't able to deliver for me was photo and video organization/editing. Even if you're not a photographic business, you do still take photos and videos for your business. I do still use Google for all my photos and images.

How was the initial setup?

The intial setup was very straightforward and took me less than an hour but all the administrative elements can take longer, depending on what you choose to do. You need to configure it with all it's variables and that can take extra time. The basic setup to just start work, was super quick. If you have a powerful computer it's about the download time and then some setup time. It's the Sysadmin leg of work that was a steep learning curve for me.

What about the implementation team?

Handled it by myself with great support from a very responsive MS365 Tech team.

What was our ROI?

incredible. Very lower startup cost.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

For the standard plan, the cost is USD $12.50 per month, committed annually. There are often discounts offered versus month to month.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I wanted to stick with the best and only evaluated all the different price plan options. For my size and stage of business the standard option offered everything I needed, plus some.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this solution a 10 out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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