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How To Choose The Best Microsoft Office Package For Your Business

If you’re overwhelmed by the variety of Microsoft Office packages out there, we understand. At last count, there were around a dozen different versions, plus five sub-versions!

With that many options, how do you know which one is right for your business?

Assuming you’re a business with more than just one employee, we can eliminate a handful of the Microsoft Office products which are aimed at the personal market. That still leaves too many to choose from, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Here to help is your guide to the various versions of Office 365 for businesses.

First, Understand the New Office 365

There was a time when, if you wanted the Microsoft suite of business software, you went to a store and plucked it off the shelf. Then you took it home and installed it on your desktop PC. That gave you:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • Access
  • Later on: PowerPoint

That’s been the core suite of products for decades, which is why you’ll still see people referring to that grouping as “Office”. Nowadays, however, businesses need much more than a text editor, a spreadsheet, and a database program. Hardly anybody uses Access anymore, anyway.

Modern businesses need communication and collaboration tools, security features, file sharing, and storing capability.

Microsoft has developed those products, all the while continuing to call their bundles “Office”. You can still buy those classic applications for installation only on just one PC or Mac. If you want that, look for “Office 2016”.

However, since 2013, Microsoft has been offering ‘Office 365’, a subscription-based version of its software plus more enhanced services. Hence the confusion with the name of its various product suites. “Office” may mean different groups of Microsoft products to different people.

Office 365 for Businesses

The Office 365 subscription gets you not only the fully installed Office applications but also important services like:

  • OneDrive online storage
  • Skype minutes
  • New versions automatically updated
  • More users
  • Access from devices
  • Collaboration tools
  • Communication tools

All are available on a fee per user/per month charge, with an annual commitment. Here’s the difference between them all:

  • Office 365 Business. You get Office apps plus cloud file storage. No business email.
  • Office 365 Business Premium. Same as above, plus services: OneDrive, SharePoint, Skype for Business, and Yammer.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials. No apps, just services (listed just above).
  • Office 365 ProPlus. No email included. The only service included is OneDrive.
  • Office 365 Enterprise E1. Email, file storage, sharing, meetings, and IM. No Office apps.
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3. ProPlus + E1 plus more security and compliance tools.
  • Office 365 Enterprise E5. E3 + advanced security, voice, and analytics.
  • Office 365 Enterprise K1. This is Office 365 for Frontline workers.

The Bottom Line?

Our advice? Decide what you need, draw up a list, and use the process of elimination to narrow your options. The main decisions you’ll make are these:

  1. Whether you need employees to have access to Office from multiple devices or just an office computer.
  2. Whether you plan to store company documents in the Cloud.
  3. Whether you want the full versions original, classic core of Office products or just read-only versions.
  4. Whether you plan on using Microsoft for your business email needs.
  5. Whether you need project management/teamwork capability.

Finally, the cost will come down to how many users you have. Microsoft prorates the plans according to what apps/services you need, plus how many people will be using them.

When you look at it like this, deciding the best Office 365 for your business comes down to a simple equation. You’ll get your best answer when you know your business inside and out, what it needs, and where it’s going. Good Luck!