Office 365 is a great product but there are some things which a small business needs to take into consideration before making the change.
Many small businesses are going to have 3rd party software which needs to integrate with their email systems. This may take the form of a simple Outlook Plugin or may be fully integrated with the mail server. Often this software is written by small software providers who can’t release product updates quite as fast as Microsoft. This can leave you with a brand new version of Outlook not working with your older software. Microsoft typically only allow you to use the latest two versions of Outlook software so it’s important that your chosen 3rd party software suppliers are capable of keeping up as new versions are released.
Aside from moving email to Office 365, many small businesses are now also taking the next step of moving their data to the cloud and doing away with the traditional on premise file server. This can be achieved successfully but does require some thought. We find that file server data in small businesses is organised into 2 or 3 drives, these are usually “company data”, “restricted data” and “user data”. The problem is that over time these drives can grow exponentially as an on premise server usually has enough space for staff to “fill their boots” and hoard data forever, never deleting it. This approach represents a problem for people moving to the cloud as the data will need cleansing and organising into smaller chunks ready for importing into your new cloud storage. This process is often overlooked and cloud storage is seen as “P Drive in the cloud”, which it is not.
Data in the cloud represents an attractive proposition, staff can access data from anywhere in the world and they’re no longer tied to using Remote Desktop, VPN, Offline Files, or worse, staff are copying files to their laptops before leaving the office! The downside of this is that your data has now left the relative security of your office and now they’re “in the wild”. Data synchronised to your mobile devices such as laptops, tablet and phone, can be easily accessed if these devices are lost or stolen so it’s important that your data is encrypted. Data on many devices is not encrypted by default and is an option which needs to be enabled. Once encrypted you need to keep records of encryption keys so that data can be recovered in the event of hardware failure. There are several other ways to keep your data safe. We help our clients ensure they have a policy in place for managing this process.
Once you’re using cloud services you are somewhat at the mercy of the provider. Should they decide to stop offering a particular product or change the price then you either have to migrate away or pay the extra. Recently Microsoft did exactly this with Dynamics CRM Online Professional by making a product end of life before providing an equivalent version of the new product. Instead they released an Enterprise version of the new product which was significantly more expensive. In this instance the businesses using this software had invested so much into using this product that they had no choice but to pay for the newer version of the product even though they didn’t need all the functionality it provided.
Calling 0800 numbers from mobile phones has been an issue for years until Ofcom ruled that operators must allow mobile users to call them for free. Unfortunately, if you do not purchase the appropriate calling package for Skype for Business, you cannot call non-geographic numbers such as 0800, 0845 or 0345 as Microsoft don’t include them in all packages. This is frustrating for users as the only way to call these numbers is to purchase additional calling packages which can be expensive.
Datek can help you avoid these pitfalls by helping you carefully plan your migration to Office 365. Call one of our specialists now.