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  • Writer's pictureSara Millis

Navigating Microsoft 365 licences: Finding the perfect fit for your business

In today's fast-paced digital landscape, where seamless collaboration and top-notch productivity reign supreme, Microsoft 365 licences have emerged as the go-to solution for enterprises of all sizes. Whether you're a budding startup, a growing mid-sized company, or an established industry leader, finding the perfect Microsoft 365 licence fit can be a game-changer for your business.


With several licensing options available, it's easy to feel you need clarification about what's right for you. But fear not! In this insightful guide, we'll investigate each of the Microsoft 365 licences, empowering you to make an informed choice that aligns seamlessly with your unique needs and aspirations.


Smiling young black man working on a document in front of his laptop, while wearing headphones.


Understanding Microsoft 365 licences

Before we get going, let's dive into licensing and understand what Microsoft 365 licences are.


What are Microsoft 365 licences?

Microsoft 365 licences are comprehensive subscription plans that grant access to cloud-based applications and services designed to supercharge productivity, collaboration, and communication within your organisation. Formerly known as Office 365, Microsoft rebranded it to Microsoft 365 (m365 for short) to encompass a broader range of offerings and reflect its evolution beyond traditional office applications.


Unveiling the range of subscription plans

Microsoft offers various licensing options tailored to meet the diverse needs of businesses, schools, and nonprofits. The most common subscription plans include:


  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic - Designed for essential productivity and communication needs with cloud-based email and Microsoft Teams. £4.90 per month, per user, excluding VAT. This entry-level licence grants access to essential cloud-based applications, including Exchange Online for email and Microsoft Teams for seamless communication and collaboration. While it may lack premium Office apps, it provides a solid foundation for basic productivity needs.

  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard - Expanding on Business Basic, it offers access to premium office applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. £10.30 per month, per user, excluding VAT. With Microsoft 365 Business Standard, your team can access the full suite of premium Office applications, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, both on desktop and online. This plan caters to businesses seeking comprehensive productivity tools to conquer daily tasks.

  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium - The ultimate package, combining advanced security features, device management, and cloud storage. £18.10 per month, per user, excluding VAT. Microsoft 365 Business Premium combines advanced security features with top-notch productivity tools. Enjoy the benefits of device management, data protection, and secure file storage, keeping your business safe from the perils of the digital landscape.


Microsoft offers add-ons that allow you to customise your licensing experience. Explore options like Microsoft Teams, Power Automate, or Business Voice to enhance collaboration and productivity further. Looking for some cool add-ons that'll help get things done? Check out our guide here.


Ok, so which plan is right for you? Let's take a look.



Assessing your business needs

Understanding your team's unique requirements is the best way to steer yourself towards the most suitable Microsoft 365 licence for your business.


Here's how we recommend you do that:


  1. Evaluate your company's objectives - Take a moment to reflect on your company's goals and objectives. Are you looking to enhance remote collaboration, improve communication, or bolster data security? Identifying your priorities will guide you to a suitable Microsoft 365 licence.

  2. Think scalability - Opt for a Microsoft 365 licence that offers scalability, allowing your team to grow effortlessly without the burden of changing licences. You will find some flexibility in Microsoft's options, so scaling up is pretty straightforward when you need it. What's not so easy is down-scaling, so consider a good starting point that gives you 'flex' but doesn't go above what you need.

  3. Your team's unique requirements - Each team or team member may require different tools and features to perform their tasks effectively. Consider what that looks like for various departments, such as sales, marketing, or finance, and seek a Microsoft 365 licence mix that caters to their unique skill sets.

  4. Understand your compliance requirements - Microsoft is clear about m365's compliance capabilities, so read their licensing terms and regulations. Consider those alongside your industry and data legalities.


At this point, you'll have a clear idea of which plan suits your business. Before you rush off and hit subscribe, we want to talk you through tailoring your licence.



Tailoring the Licence to Your Business

The wonderful thing about m365 and why we recommend it to our clients is that you can tailor licences to get what you need from each app.


Here are some things we think you should do just after you hit subscribe:


  • Get everyone on Microsoft Teams - It is a powerful tool for fostering collaboration and camaraderie among your team. Ensure everyone can access this invaluable application to communicate, share ideas, and work towards common goals. Here's our guide to getting set up on Teams.

  • Ensure everyone has the essential apps for better workflow - Downloading the right apps for each device means individual team members can get up and running quickly. While some may require access to the entire Office suite, others may find equal success with specific apps like Excel or OneNote.


Friendly reminder - Only licence for what you need on each device! It's really easy to say, "I'll get the premium plan for everyone", and make one easy payment on your card, but is that the most cost-effective use of your budget? Be prepared to adjust your licence mix as your team's needs dictate and remember you can always scale up later.


Need a friendly team to find the right licence mix and set it all up? Contact us today!



Managing your licence through the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

Once you have got your subscriptions set up, it's time to head to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. This powerful tool will be your guiding star in managing licences and ensuring a smooth sailing experience for your team.


Accessible via a web browser, this user-friendly portal allows you to assign and manage licences effortlessly. Select the users and the corresponding licence type to grant access to the treasure trove of Microsoft 365 applications.


The Admin Center provides valuable insights into licence usage. Keep a vigilant eye on active and inactive licences to optimise your allocation and ensure resources are well-distributed.


Make sure to consider security! The Admin Center has security, device management, and app installation settings to help you manage your data against potential threats.



Staying Compliant and Secure

Compliance and security should always be on your consideration list when you take on any new software. How will the use of this app affect my data control? Will this new software be secure enough?


Here are a few things to remember when configuring your m365 licences.


  • Enable multi-factor authentication for every device and every app.

  • Ensure you encrypt stored sensitive information and share it safely.

  • Establish the proper access controls for your staff members.

  • Set up data backups and ensure you have a recovery plan.

  • Train your team to recognise and avoid phishing attacks, security risks, and best practices for using Microsoft 365 applications safely. Trying to decide what to prepare your team for? Here's our guide to 23 common business cyber attacks and how to prevent them.

  • Use your IT service provider to assist in data migration. Heck, have them set up your entire m365 suite!


Common FAQs we get asked about m365


Q: Are there two versions of Microsoft 365?

There are actually four plans: the three we've mentioned above and the Enterprise plan. We have yet to discuss that in this post because our clients aren't typically at the enterprise level.


Q: What's the difference between Office 365 and Microsoft 365?

While Office 365 and Microsoft 365 are sometimes interchangeable, they are different. Office 365 was the original cloud-based productivity suite primarily focused on providing applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook through a subscription model.


Microsoft 365 is the new and more comprehensive offering. It includes everything in Office 365, including enhanced security, device management capabilities, and cloud-based collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams.


Q: Is m365 a good choice for hybrid teams?

Yes! It is not just a great choice but also a safe choice. Here's our hybrid m365 guide.


Q: Will m365 help my team become efficient?

Microsoft has spent a lot of time and energy working out how to automate workflows and improve team efficiencies. Each app in the m365 suite has tricks to help you manage your productivity. We've written about a few of them here.



Microsoft 365 licences: London-based assistance is closer than you think!

At IT Soho, we are experts in Microsoft products; we use them daily with our client base. We recommend the m365 because it's reliable, efficient and safe.


If you are in the London area and need a friendly team to help you assess what your business needs are and manage all of your hardware and software, then give us a call!



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