Do you have questions about how to choose the right Microsoft 365 plan for your business? Microsoft business solutions subscriptions can be a little complex, so you're not alone if you're feeling confused. Read on for a simplified explanation of the various plans and packages you can choose.
Buy Office 365 Business - Package Guide
Which Microsoft 365 business plan should I buy for my business?
Microsoft 365 is an obvious winner for cloud-based business systems, but there are different suites from which to choose. Microsoft has packaged the business offerings under two bundle types:
- Frontline worker plans
- Information worker plans
Both plan types will enable you to access Office 365 and file hosting through OneDrive, but there are some critical distinctions between the two.
The Information Worker suite includes two Microsoft 365 plans that you can customise to fit your needs. These are E3 and E5. Businesses can expand the suite with the sets of services your company needs, such as Enterprise Mobility, a standalone Office 365 system, or additional security tools. You can even get packs of the Windows 10 operating system.
The Frontline Worker suite, on the other hand, is more compact. The plans are F1, F3 and F5, and the only available add on is Office 365 F3.
When you choose Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 plans, you get unlimited archive and mail storage space. Advanced analytics tools are also included, like MyAnalytics, Delve and PowerBI. The analytics features are not available on the Frontliner plans. Information Worker subscriptions also include threat protection, access management, endpoint management and several other sophisticated tools that are not included in the Frontline Worker suite.
Regarding SharePoint, the collaborative platform and document storage system, the Frontline Worker suite lacks Excel services, enterprise search and Visio features. You also do not get unified communications with Frontline Worker plans.
It probably seems that Information Worker plans are vastly superior, and in many ways, that's true. However, Frontline Worker plans are a better fit for smaller companies with a tighter budget. As a general rule, the Information Worker plans are only vital for companies with an employee headcount greater than 50, where users need maximum storage space and more advanced analytics. Frontline Worker plans should be sufficient for smaller companies.
Where can I buy Microsoft 365 business?
To get a Microsoft 365 business subscription, you will need to approach Microsoft directly or set up through a Microsoft Direct CSP (Cloud Solutions Provider) such as Amvia. CSP third-party companies buy and supply your licence directly from Microsoft, and you will receive a single monthly invoice for it.
Many organisations prefer this method because it simplifies the rather complex world of Microsoft licensing. They can also help you ensure everyone in your organisation is on the correct licence for their needs, ensuring you are not paying for anything you don't use. Of course, Microsoft will offer their support in tailoring your package as much as possible, but many find that Microsoft Direct CSPs offer a higher standard of support.
Microsoft partners can sometimes offer a better price than you would get for a Microsoft 365 subscription bought directly from Microsoft. The only downside is that there may be a delay of some hours when you set up through a third party, whereas going direct through Microsoft will be instant.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Going direct to Microsoft can feel a little more trustworthy for some. Microsoft is one of the largest corporations in the world, so it may inspire more confidence to go straight to them. However, Microsoft Direct CSPs go through a rigorous procedure to get approval from Microsoft, so there is no reason not to have faith in their offerings.
How much does Microsoft 365 business cost?
The cost depends on the package you choose. We mentioned above that there are three core plans for Frontline Workers known as F1, F3 and F5. The pricing for these is as follows:
- F1 - also known as Microsoft 365 Basic, this package cost £3.80 per user/month, and you must make an annual commitment to it.
- F3 - this package is named Microsoft 365 Standard, and it costs £9.40 per user/month. Again, there is the requirement to make an annual commitment.
- F5 - you will find this named Microsoft 365 Business Premium, and it costs £15.10 per user/month again with an annual commitment required.
As you can see, you must commit to at least a year's subscription with all the Frontline Worker packages. The prices listed above do not include VAT, and there is a monthly free trial available for all of them.
The Information Worker (or Enterprise) packages offer more features but come at a higher price. Just like the Business subscriptions, you must make an annual commitment with the Enterprise solutions. The prices are as follows:
- E3 - £28.10 user/month to get the best-in-class productivity apps plus core security and compliance capabilities.
- E5 - £48.10 user/month for the best-in-class productivity apps and advanced security, compliance, analytics and voice capabilities.
Again, these prices do not include VAT. They come directly from the Microsoft website, so you may be able to secure a better deal by approaching a Microsoft Direct CSP. It is up to you how you choose to proceed.
Making the migration to Microsoft 365 is not a task that can be completed overnight. If you are still uncertain about which plan is right for you, get in touch with an expert for advice. Expert help could help you decide whether Microsoft 365 is right for you and then evaluate your needs to identify the best plan for your business.
Remember that many companies will not need the advanced features of an Information Worker or Enterprise package. It is essential not to pay for features you do not need, as those costs will quickly build up and could become an issue for your budget. Microsoft 365 offers robust features for modern businesses using a cloud-based system, and its superb capabilities have empowered organisations worldwide.