Formerly known as Office 365, Microsoft 365 is a productivity cloud that brings together best-in-class Office apps with powerful cloud services, device management plus cybersecurity features. Its suite of products include Outlook, Office Apps, Teams, OneDrive and SharePoint, with varying accessibility, security and automation tools available depending on package. Growing numbers of businesses have turned to Microsoft 365 – or are exploring the ways that it can work harder and smarter – to aid operational resilience, continuity, collaboration.
But what is the best way to move to Microsoft 365 if you’re lacking IT skills in-house? Whether starting from scratch or migrating from another Microsoft environment, Sentis recommends working with an authorised Microsoft partner who has a proven track record of setup, migration, configuration and of course, implementation.
Why should I work with a third party for Microsoft 365 migration?
Microsoft 365 is accessible to every business. But, put simply, working with an expert third party will elevate your users’ experience: improving productivity and stretching investment far further than in you decided to go it alone. As part of a cloud or digital transformation strategy, a trusted third party (whether an IT managed service provider or a standalone Microsoft 365 specialist) with maximise the platform’s performance and give you complete trust in the solution.
Things to consider before moving to Microsoft 365
If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely you’ve already weighed up the business benefits of using Microsoft 365’s cloud platform. Before you take the plunge and move to Microsoft 365 (alone or with external support), we advise asking yourself the following 3 questions:
- Will Microsoft 365 need integrating with any other business-critical systems, applications or IT infrastructure? If so, is any of this infrastructure on-premise?
- Which package is best for my business, and will I need any add ons in order to run Microsoft 365 securely and seamlessly? Sentis recommends Business Premium.
- Will any Microsoft 365 apps or the platform itself need custom configuration in order to be fit for purpose? (Tip – every organisation is different, so this is probably a yes!).
Can Microsoft 365 be used on-premise?
Microsoft 365 delivers a whole host of transformational cloud applications but sometimes, key IT infrastructure needs to remain on-premise. So, can Microsoft 365 be used on-premise? The answer is – partly, yes! Although a cloud solution, it can be integrated and synchronised with on-premise environments to form a hybrid solution. This capability will be especially welcomed by manufacturing and hospitality operations, who depend on on-premise ERP and PMS respectively.
Day-to-day Microsoft 365 management tasks
Microsoft 365 is a complete solution that when implemented correctly, should become deeply embedded with your organisation’s processes and culture. However, as with everything, it needs diligent and precise upkeep to continue operating at full performance –giving your business the value that you signed up (and pay!) for. These following 4 areas are commonly assumed to “run themselves” when in reality, third party management is fundamental to effectiveness.
Backup: Did you know that if data is lost in Microsoft 365, it is not always recoverable? For example, files or data accidentally or purposefully deleted from SharePoint or OneDrive are permanently gone. Microsoft have a “shared responsibility” model which means although they offer data storage replication and redundancy, they aren’t responsible for restoring any data lost through intrusion attacks or user error.
To mitigate this very real risk, an additional managed backup product for Microsoft 365 is advised. These products have rapid rollback and file search functions that make important data, including emails, are recoverable.
Cybersecurity: The latest Microsoft 365 platform comes with a range of cybersecurity features. But at Sentis, we always make sure to reinforce our clients’ IT environments with extra cybersecurity products that protect against internet-based threats, hacking and malware.
These products may include email filtering, web content filtering and advanced threat detection and are more important than ever when using a cloud solution, which if not properly protected creates an additional inroad for cybercriminals to steal data or compromise systems.
Active Directory: Continual management of your Active Directory is essential however your business operates, but even more so if you have any semblance of a flexible working programme. (Translation: your staff switch between remote and on-site working, or plan to do so in the future). This will ensure that you remain in full control of who is accessing Microsoft 365, how they’re doing it and where from.
When your third-party partner integrates Microsoft 365 with directory services, you can synchronise and manage user accounts for both environments. You can also add password hash synchronisation or single sign-on (SSO) so users can log on to both environments with their same on-premise credentials.
Automation: Throughout the pandemic, the power of Teams and SharePoint has taken centre stage. But as the quick-reaction firefighting subsides, large numbers of businesses are discovering just how powerful Microsoft 365’s automation is, from workflows to training and AI-driven insights within PowerPlatform.
These automation tools are new to many organisations, no less those than have only recently migrated or begun using Microsoft 365 in a more integrated, holistic way. Working with an expert to build, manage and connect automation features will deliver tangible benefits in the form of up-to-date insights and smooth-running workflows that fuel intelligent business decisions and productivity.