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Office 365: Understanding the Benefits and Busting the Myths

by Affinity Consulting Group on April 19, 2018

It is a pretty universal need – Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel, even Power Point. Historically, people bought these programs when they bought a computer – often bundling the purchase of the software with the purchase of the computer, or, buying the software to install on an existing computer.  More recently, firms have been uncovering the option to instead subscribe to “Office 365.”

Office 365″ refers to subscription plans that include access to Office applications plus other productivity services that are enabled over the Internet (cloud services). Office 365 plans for business include services such as Skype for Business web conferencing and Exchange Online hosted email for business, and additional online storage with OneDrive for Business.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that by using Office 365, everything is in the “Cloud.”  The truth is, many Office 365 plans also include the desktop version of the latest Office applications, which users can install across multiple computers and devices. When you have an active Office 365 subscription that includes the desktop version of Office, you always have the most up-to-date version of the applications.  Compared to the more traditional way of purchasing, where you must pay the updates as they are released.  The problem is, firms often find that different users bought the Office software at different times, and by the end of a 5 year time period, for instance, they could have people running 3 different versions of the products you rely on every day to produce work and serve your clients. This is a recipe for incompatibility, unforeseen technology costs, and user frustration.

Building on the “that means I am in the Cloud” misconception, people often think that with Office 365, they can’t access their programs or their documents without an internet connection. You can use Office 365 offline (without internet access) if you download and install the desktop version of Office with your plan.  You have to connect to the internet every 30 days to maintain your subscription and Office 365 tells you when it’s time to connect.

In addition to always having the most recent versions of the software you use to run your law firm world, Microsoft Exchange is included in some of the Office 365 plans.  This feature alone is worth the price of admission.  Microsoft Exchange is a program that, among other things, allows Outlook users to back up their data (email, contacts, calendars, tasks, etc.) on a server.  However, there are much bigger benefits:

Share Data:  Exchange also allows users to share information in Outlook most notably, calendar and contacts.

Smartphone & Tablet Sync:  Exchange will wirelessly sync with any smartphone or tablet running Android, iOS, Blackberry OS or Windows Phone.

Anywhere Email Access:  Exchange also allows users to gain access to office email while out of the office.  Outlook Web Access gives you browser based access to email no matter what device you are using, as long as you have access to an internet connection.

Full Back Up: Everything in Outlook is backed up in Exchange (email, contacts, calendar & tasks)

Operating System Agnostic:  Exchange and Outlook will work with both Windows and Mac computers.

For a great Comparison Chart of Office 365 features, visit the MGMT HQ!

 

 

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