Microsoft 365 has been leveraged by 187,000 businesses and IT consultants in the UK alone. And the number is constantly rising year on year. The software takes advantage of cloud technologies and helps you boost communications and real-time collaboration.
But that’s not all. With a full complement of productivity tools, advanced security protocols and seamless integration with third-party tools, Microsoft 365 helps you improve your all-around game, from efficacy, security and remote working.
Yet despite all the benefits Microsoft 365 offers, firms find they still need advice and assistance from outsourced IT consultants. Issues can arise with a cloud configuration and you may not have enough know-how to take full advantage of cloud-based tools.
To leverage office 365 to its maximum potential, our experienced IT professionals analyse your existing system and help you to create a holistic strategy that gets the most of your IT system. We can also show you around Microsoft 365 so that you take full advantage of the tools at your disposal.
What is Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 is a powerful toolbox of cloud-based apps. It includes familiar tools such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint that have been mainstays of the full Microsoft Office suite but also gives you access to advanced communications and collaboration software such as Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.
Data within Microsoft 365 is stored within the OneDrive cloud so that your team can share and collaborate on documents in real-time. Business grants also give you access to mobile-device manager Intune and virtual desktops that helps to add an extra layer of protection on to your cybersecurity defences.
Microsoft 365 is accessible across an array of payment plans from “Personal and Family” for individual use, “Enterprise” for startups and SMEs, “Business” for larger enterprises, and “Education.” The “Enterprise” package starts at £28.10 per user per month for full access to Microsoft 365 services.
Rather than making a one-time purchase, Microsoft 365 gives you the option to spread your budget and pay for software on a month-by-month basis. Managed IT services go one step better by offering additional services that you can add or remove as and when you need them. This enables you to manage your budget.
What Services can IT Consultants Provide for Microsoft 365?
Once you’ve integrated Microsoft 365 into your business network, it requires minimal maintenance. However, establishing Microsoft 365 within your systems can be a challenging endeavour. If you do not have an in-house IT team with in-depth knowledge of cloud technologies, you cannot rely on your staff to implement cloud-based software securely or get the most out of them.
Enterprises typically use Microsoft 365 in ways that are not optimised to their specific operational needs. IT consultants can help your team use this platform in the most productive way possible. Furthermore, we can also customise your entire IT network and integrate other software tools you rely on.
Migrating Microsoft 365
Migrating from your old systems to Microsoft 365 is a smart choice of forward-thinking businesses – but it can also cause headaches for in-house IT professionals. The switch requires transferring data stored locally to cloud storage solutions.
However, there may be some sensitive data you do not want to store in the cloud. We understand that there are risk concerns with regards to privacy, data theft and protecting your intellectual property. Our IT consultants will also help you to create a migration strategy and build this into your IT security strategy.
In the migration process, your data is at risk from multiple vulnerabilities. If your IT team fails to properly migrate all data and delete it from the old system, it could be permanently lost. Furthermore, migration can corrupt data, making it unusable. Even if your migration goes ahead without any glitches, it can still result in excessive downtime. Ideally, you don’t want to lose revenue by adding Microsoft 365 to your IT arsenal.
The risks can be mitigated by following the Microsoft 365 migration best practices. Feel free to have a read and learn all about the best risk reduction migration techniques and estimate how long your migration will take. Be warned though, this document is hefty. Light reading it is not!
The guide is enormous. It will take an experienced IT professional a while to understand it well enough to successfully install Microsoft 365 and implement the software into your business network. If you’re planning, or need to, continue using legacy software, you are also likely to experience glitches.
In most cases where the IT environment is complex, it’s more efficient to hire an IT consultant who specialises in Microsoft 365 and other cloud-based technologies. Not only does this ensure the migration goes smoothly, but it also enables your team to get on with more important aspects of their job such as strategy.
An outsourced IT consultant can guide your team through the migration and implementation process and also give you insights into how you can leverage the software to enhance your business needs. In essence, we help you to make the transfer seamless and fast.
Your staff may be familiar with the Microsoft Office suite already so there won’t be a steep learning curve for most people. However, there are some new tools that they will need to get to grips with. And the sooner they do this the better.
Microsoft 365 can help your workforce be more productive and efficient – but only if they are using the tools in the right way and taking full advantage of features that make performing tasks easier. And there are a lot of features!
Microsoft offers open-access training resources for their Office 365 software. However, these guides are text-heavy. Staff lacking in IT skills will find these guides intimidating and a waste of time. Using an outsourced IT consultant is a far more cost-effective way of showing your staff how to use the tools and the best shortcuts.
IT consultants can tailor their teaching approach to your team’s unique needs, having them ready to use the platform in no time.
Keeping Pace with Microsoft 365 Updates
Microsoft 365 is updated constantly as developers provide users with new tools and the latest security patches. Updates are important. Firstly, the updates eliminate bugs so the software works better. More importantly, patch updates maintain the effectiveness of your security defences by securing vulnerable gateways.
Whilst updating cloud software is not difficult, the sheer number of updates you have to perform can be overwhelming for the average employee. In December, there have been three for Microsoft 365 alone. If you’re also using a variety of other software, your staff could be performing dozens of updates a month – all of which eat into their productivity time.
An IT consultant can assist here. Our patch management service ensures all the latest Office 365 updates and all your patches for other software is updated on time. This is important in relation to GDPR. Once a new patch has been released by a software company, the end-user is responsible for activating the update – and if you suffer a data breach because you failed to update the patch, the ICO will come down hard on you.
Microsoft 365 comes with an array of customisable features. Finding these customisations that are most fitting for your business and implementing them across all of your staff will come with benefits.
These vary from changing the themes, logos, and colours of your team’s Microsoft 365 to best represent your organisation, to customisations that impact the productivity of your staff. Productivity customisations include changing the ways they receive notifications, changing how they can access Microsoft 365 apps, and many others.
Finding where to make these customisations and making them in a way that benefits your staff would typically require you to sift through Microsoft guides. A skilled IT consultant can guide you to the most appropriate customisations for your team so that they can use Microsoft 365 productively.
When you use Microsoft 365, you are not limited to purely Microsoft apps. Various third-party developers have created additional tools that you can use within the Microsoft 365 suite.
Your business may well use some of the apps available for third-party integration with Microsoft 365. These include the communications software Slack, the planning software Trello, and the commerce software SalesForce.
An IT consultant can introduce you to further third-party applications which you can implement within your Microsoft 365 network.
If your business has multiple departments, you have likely experienced difficulties maintaining communication and cooperation between them. The result is that each department will use your company’s software in different ways, creating processes that are independent of each other. This can cause your business to lack flexibility as employees struggle to move between departments.
Contracting an IT consultant that your whole team can trust will allow your business to move onto the same Microsoft 365 platform. They can ensure that all your departments use the same third-party apps, customisations, and update software simultaneously.
Is an IT Consultant Worth the Investment?
And you will need a cloud specialist to migrate, securely implement and customise Microsoft 365.
The number of hours required from an IT consultant to help you implement Microsoft 365 varies depending on the size of your IT infrastructure. When deciding if an IT consultant is appropriate, you should consider the full benefits of their consultancy and the additional profits they can generate for your business.
Reduction of implementation and maintenance costs is the main benefit that a good IT consultant can bring. Without creating an in-house IT team, your business can use IT consultancy to introduce Microsoft 365 software that can revolutionise how your team works.
Furthermore, a Microsoft 365 consultant can go further than saving your business money by helping your team be more productive. They can show you the latest tools, apps, and customisations, allowing your team to use Microsoft 365 in the best way possible.
Therefore, a Microsoft 365 IT consultant can bring vast benefits and savings to your business for a relatively low cost. In most cases, they will be well worth the investment.
In-House or Freelance Microsoft 365 IT Consultants
If you decide to hire help from outside your business to install Microsoft 365, you will need to determine whether you need to hire a consultant or a freelancer. For a one-off job, freelancers in the UK are two to a penny, with around 2.2 million on the tax register.
Choosing between freelance or company IT support consultants will impact the cost of your IT consultancy. Company consultants are generally considered safer as they are accountable to management within their consultancy firm. This means that you can be assured of the standards of their consultancy, including ensuring that the security of the data is protected and the migration remains compliant with data security laws.
However, this additional oversight and security come at a cost. While a company must include these costs when they invoice you, a freelancer needs only look after themselves. Therefore, you can expect their consultancy to come at a much more affordable price.
These lower costs are irrelevant if the freelance Microsoft 365 IT consultant does not add value to your business. Therefore, it is vital that you connect with trusted partners to determine which freelance consultants will be a good fit for your company. Choosing a consultancy firm with excellent customer testimony will be the best option if your partners cannot recommend any suitable freelancers.
Boosting your Business with Microsoft 365 IT Consultancy
Microsoft 365 can boost your business in a variety of ways, but without knowing it’s dynamic potential, you won’t be able to take full advantage. With a lack of cloud skills among today’s, IT professionals, a growing number of companies are outsourcing the cloud side of their IT infrastructure to managed IT services.
Micro Pro is an established IT consultancy and managed service provider with four offices throughout the UK. Our team of highly-skilled and knowledgeable IT professionals provide advice and assistance in creating customised and reliable IT strategies that enable you to reach your business goals.
If you feel as though you’re not getting the most from your IT network, give us a call to discuss your problems and solutions.