American business is consumed by the idea of the startup – a company that is founded with just the work of one or two talented individuals that toil for months on their own and eventually strike it big and get outside investment and more employees. Startups can’t build their infrastructure and their technology solutions for the future – as often they barely have enough money to get them through the next few weeks – but they can plan for the future by choosing a software system that will scale with them and will accommodate their future growth. From the ground up, Office 365 is designed to scale; so it’s used by small businesses and massive enterprises alike.
The Problem with Self-Hosted Solutions
Running your own Exchange or SharePoint server might seem attractive from a control standpoint, but the hardware costs alone put it out of reach of all but the largest companies with the most dedicated IT departments. Scaling is also a major problem with these systems – as every additional account that is added to the servers increases the workload of the IT department that must administer the servers and also trouble-shoot for the end users when there are problems. When you want to add more employees to your company, the cost of adding additional seats for these programs can be variable – since you will eventually hit a threshold that will require the upgrade of your hardware at a huge cost.
Office 365 doesn’t require the kind of dedicated hardware investment and support budget that self-hosted solutions necessitate. Instead of clogging up the pipeline of your IT department with administrative risks, Office 365 offloads the management of the architecture to Microsoft’s talented engineers, and you get the uptime without the incredible support burden. For startups, this means they can delay their investment in IT support infrastructure until they have a much larger company and have already figured out a business plant that will bring in revenue.
Perpetual License Problems
There is another problem that is inherent with perpetually licensed software. If you want to upgrade your workforce temporarily – say, hiring freelancers for a short project within the company, you find yourself paying a massive amount for the software that you need for them to do their jobs – while the software will only be used for a short amount of time. With Office 365, however, you can add or subtract employees whenever you need to – and there are no contractual penalties for reducing or increasing the size of your licensed workforce. This, in addition to the reduced opportunity costs of having to skip generations of software because the perpetual license upgrade cost is too high to justify across your whole organization.
Easy Office 365 Upgrades
Many SaaS companies make users jump through hoops when they want to upgrade their service. For example, Salesforce has entire features that are only available for larger clients – and some Salesforce users find it easier to start a new database from scratch rather than try to negotiate the upgrade process. For Office 365, upgrading is a breeze. When you are making a switch from one Office 365 subscription plan to another, you have the choice of calling Microsoft and making the switch by phone or making the switch through the new “wizard” that Office 365 added. IF your organization has 300 or fewer users, and you are switching all of your users to a larger plan – you can use the switch wizard to make the jump to a new account package with just a single click!
Getting started with Office 365 early is important for your organization because it can solidify a workflow that encourages higher productivity and greater security. For example, if you get used to using SharePoint sites to encourage collaboration among your employees while your company is still tiny – that same emphasis for collaboration will carry over when you have a much larger company and find yourself running several SharePoint site collections. In much the same way, taking advantage of all of Microsoft Office’s features (like meeting room scheduling through Outlook) even when you could do everything manually and informally will give your company the training and the foundation to expand gracefully without the confusion and loss of culture that sometimes comes with rapid expansion.
No matter the size of your company, it is vital that you plan for the future with a software package that will scale along with your organization. No other office software solution has the flexibility of Office 365, and no other software package has been successfully implemented in organizations that run the full spectrum of size and industry.