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Why Microsoft 365 is the Ideal Cloud IT Solution for Most SMEs

Microsoft brand

The team at help4IT is often approached by small business owners looking for advice on migrating to the cloud. For the majority of SMEs that we work with, Microsoft 365 is often the perfect answer to many of the IT challenges that they face. Here we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Microsoft 365, and why it is ideal for many small to medium-sized businesses.

What is Microsoft 365?  

Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365, is a subscription-based service offered by Microsoft that combines a suite of productivity applications and cloud services. It includes popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams. Along with the traditional Office software, users get additional features like OneDrive storage, advanced security measures, and regular updates. Microsoft 365 is designed to be accessed online, enabling users to work collaboratively in real time from various devices and locations. Catering to both individual users and businesses, it offers multiple plans to fit varied needs, ensuring seamless integration, collaboration, and enhanced productivity.

Why is Microsoft 365 a great cloud IT solution for SMEs?

Microsoft 365 is a potent cloud solution for businesses because it integrates a range of productivity tools, ensuring seamless collaboration and communication. The platform is built on robust security features, safeguarding sensitive business data from potential threats. OneDrive offers generous cloud storage, facilitating easy sharing and backup of files. Moreover, Microsoft’s consistent updates ensure businesses always have the latest features and security patches. All these factors combined make Microsoft 365 an all-encompassing solution that promotes efficiency, collaboration, and security in a business environment.

How easy is it for a small business to migrate to Microsoft 365?

Migrating to Microsoft 365 is relatively straightforward. Microsoft has designed the setup and migration process with user-friendliness in mind. With the availability of comprehensive guides and support from Microsoft, even businesses with limited IT expertise can undertake the migration, however, it’s advisable to consult with IT experts to ensure that your configuration achieves what you need it to do. Key aspects of the migration will involve setting up user accounts, migrating existing email and files, and configuring settings. For those with existing Microsoft products or email systems, there are tools and services to assist with data transfer. While some initial training might be beneficial for staff to utilise all features optimally, the intuitive interface of Microsoft 365 apps makes the transition smoother for most users.

How easy is it to maintain Microsoft 365 and what sort of maintenance tasks are needed?

Maintaining Microsoft 365 is relatively hassle-free, as most of the heavy lifting, like server management and software updates, is handled by Microsoft. However, businesses should regularly manage user accounts, permissions, and monitor storage usage. They must also configure and review security settings, ensuring compliance with organisational policies and potential threat mitigation. Regular training or refresher sessions can be beneficial to keep staff updated on new features or best practices. You will also need to regularly maintain the hardware used to access Microsoft 365 and maintain network security to protect all devices.

My business uses custom software. How well does Microsoft 365 integrate with custom software?

Microsoft 365’s integration with custom software largely depends on the software in question. Many businesses find success integrating through Microsoft’s Power Platform, especially Power Automate, which can connect to numerous services and applications. Microsoft Graph API provides a way to interact with Microsoft 365 services, offering opportunities for custom integration. Furthermore, Microsoft 365 is built on common standards and protocols, making it more interoperable. However, the ease and depth of integration can vary. It’s therefore essential to work with IT professionals familiar with both Microsoft 365 and the specific custom software to assess feasibility and implement a smooth integration process.

Is it essential to consult with IT professionals when moving over to Microsoft 365?

Yes, consulting with IT professionals when transitioning to Microsoft 365 is essential. While Microsoft 365 is user-friendly, an IT expert ensures a smooth migration, helping transfer data, set up security protocols, integrate custom software and existing systems efficiently. They can identify potential pitfalls, recommend best practices, and ensure your setup aligns with business needs. Moreover, they can provide training to staff, ensuring optimal utilisation of the platform. Their expertise can save time, reduce potential disruptions, and ensure that the transition maximises the benefits of the platform for your business.

Are there any scenarios where Microsoft 365 might not be the best solution for my business?

Yes, there are scenarios where Microsoft 365 might not be the best fit. If your business operates in regions with limited internet connectivity, relying heavily on cloud-based services might be challenging. Businesses with stringent data residency or compliance requirements might find Microsoft’s cloud storage locations unsuitable. Additionally, if your enterprise heavily depends on software that’s incompatible or hard to integrate with Microsoft 365, transitions can be cumbersome. Also, smaller businesses with tight budgets might find some of the advanced features unnecessary and cost-prohibitive. It’s crucial to evaluate your specific needs, existing infrastructure, and budgetary constraints before committing to migrate to Microsoft 365.

What are the key benefits of moving to Microsoft 365 summarised?

In summary, then, migrating to Microsoft 365 offers the following key benefits:

  1. Collaboration and Flexibility – Microsoft 365 offers integrated tools like Teams and SharePoint, allowing employees to work together in real time from anywhere, facilitating a more flexible and collaborative work environment.
  2. Regular Updates and Features – Subscribers receive consistent updates, ensuring they always have access to the latest features, security patches, and software improvements without incurring additional costs.
  3. Robust Security – Microsoft 365 has built-in security measures, including advanced threat protection, data loss prevention, and multifactor authentication, safeguarding businesses from potential security threats.
  4. Scalability – It’s easy to adjust subscriptions based on the needs of the business, allowing for seamless scaling up or down as the company grows or changes.
  5. Integrated Cloud Storage – With OneDrive for Business, users get ample cloud storage, making it easier to store, share, and access files from any device, enhancing mobility and data redundancy.

Need assistance migrating to Microsoft 365?

The help4IT team has been delivering an efficient, frictionless Microsoft 365 migration service to SMEs in a broad range of sectors for many years. For assistance with moving your IT systems to the cloud, or for general small business IT support, contact our team today to discuss an initial audit.

Tom Finnis

Tom Finnis is responsible for the delivery of IT support services and projects to help4IT's clients, as well as the development of the company's cloud infrastructure and related products. Tom has overseen the growth of the Help4IT technical department from 3 to 12 full-time staff, with additional contract workers, creating the systems and procedures to enable the efficient provision of the company's high level of support. More recently he has led the design and deployment of help4IT's multi-site cloud infrastructure.


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