IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Tips on How to Buy Office 365

Contributing tipster Lisa Hendrickson offers several points for consideration to IT pros and their clients wondering how to buy Office 365 Business or Home. By Lisa Hendrickson

This could be an eBook, but it would be outdated the first day I published it. So I opted to make a quick "newsletter/blog" and hope these tips don't change overnight. (If you are new to Office 365, you will learn that Microsoft loves changing things without sending me a memo about it.)

Before I go into this, I will discuss the two different Office 365 plans. Did you know there are two? Did you know that there are many more? Not many folks do! For the sake of my audience, I will just cover two of them.

Reminder! If you see the words "Office 365" it is always a subscription. Other products with the name "Office 2016" are purchases.

Office 365 Home is the version you can buy at a retail store or online, five installations for $99. This version is intended for one person or family to share. This is not the version for businesses. It includes Office 2016, OneDrive, Skype minutes, and the best part, SUPPORT, for the software! Believe it or not, this is my favorite part. Sometimes Outlook can be tricky to fix, and having Microsoft remote in is very helpful to my time and the client's time. Micorosft has many fixes I don't have. (Did I mention I'm not on that memo list either?)

If you buy at a store, you will have to create an account online and find the install links in your account. This is the only Office 365 product I recommend buying from Microsoft (not the business packages). I recommend buying this online directly from Microsoft.

Office 365 Business offers many different packages; too many flavors, in fact, for me to get into now. But here is a quick tip: Most of my clients need two things, Office and Exchange (the email, calendar, and contact syncing program). Some folks want the bigger Office that includes SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, and other now popular applications.

I don't recommend buying from...

GoDaddy is No. 1 on my list. If you love your account with GoDaddy, please excuse the rest of this part, but you should be warned about some changes that have happened lately.

  • They do not participate in the plans that allow you to transfer your account easily. In fact, if you want more products or need other products, you have to close your account with them and set up a new account with another company. You have to pay for the install/setup and migration fees to the new company. I do this for clients (so I know), as I bill them for this work. I am helping a client this week move her entire company to a "Better Vendor" because she can't add an application to her Office 365 account. This will cost her a lot of money, downtime, and she can't get a refund unfortunately.
  • Restricted Access: GoDaddy doesn't think you should play with the pretty buttons that you or your tech company need to do more advanced work with your Office 365 account. I have had to call in to get simple issues resolved or completed.
  • Be careful of being oversold and under-delivered. I have been told that "buy their three-year deal" was so good, clients could not resist. The techs on the first call also get paid commission so every great sale helps their paycheck. Be careful here because if you have an issue and need better support or another product, this is where that great deal might go sour for you.
  • Also, they promise "seamless" migrations. OK, if you are one of the lucky ones. Their migration might take days and have issues. And, since you put the migration in their hands, there is nothing they can do to stop it or fix it while it's going on. Had some calls about this, and there is nothing I can do either!

Be careful buying Office 365 or Office from sites off the internet. While their pricing may be eye-catching, you might have issues down the road with these purchases, and they are not worth your time to get the licenses figured out. I have been paid a lot of money to figure out these $30 savings.

Buying Office 365 Business direct from Microsoft. If you decide to buy from them directly, you will save a few dollars, but you are on your own for support. Setting up the Office products is not difficult, but, for Exchange and a few other programs, configuration and email setup and migration are not easy to configure. And that is how I get a lot of my calls. There was no "guide," and people do things themselves and get caught up in some messes.

I recommend purchasing from...

I help clients purchase Office 365 Business from my vendor who has awesome 24/7 support. Due to my business model, I decided not to "resell" for many reasons. But, my vendor is always open and has a great sales and support team. Most vendors do basic support. This is where I come in, to handle the rest. I do the Exchange migrations, SharePoint help, setup in Outlook, configure the calendars, etc. Consider Call That Girl your "Support" company. The vendor is for passwords, new accounts, and very simple Outlook issues.

If you want to work with a local company, call computer shops or IT professional companies in your area to find out if they sell and support Office 365 Business. Be sure to find out about their pricing, included support, and, most importantly, their experience with Exchange. These shops should be a direct Microsoft partner or use a vendor like I do. If you specifically want to use a product, such as SharePoint, be sure they have experience, as SharePoint is fairly robust. This is one of the main calls I get in from clients, "We setup SharePoint and OneDrive, and it's a huge mess." Get your new SharePoint and OneDrive setup the right way the first time!

Buy Office 365 Home from Microsoft directly as I said above

These are some simple tips. If you have specific questions, I can help with my new Quick Question helpdesk, or you can book a one-hour appointment and have many more specific questions answered. I tell folks that I can cover a lot in one hour, and then you will know more before you buy in and have your company fully transitioned to Office 365. If, after the one-hour consult, you want to work with Call That Girl, I do migrations and extended Office 365 support with my four- and eight-hour prepay tickets.

Schedule time on my calendar here.
Read more about my prepay tickets here.

 

Lisa Hendrickson
Lisa Hendrickson is the owner of Call That Girl Technology Support. She is an Outlook expert and Office 365 consultant. Her specialties include being a remote support technician, technology blogger, podcaster, and she is also of the author of six e-books for computer repair businesses including the most popular, Call That Girl's Guide to Remote Support. To read and learn more, go to callthatgirl.biz

ChannelPro SMB Magazine
SUBSCRIBE FREE!

Get an edge on the competition

With each issue packed full of powerful news, reviews, analysis and advice targeting IT channel professionals, ChannelPro-SMB will help you cultivate your SMB customers and run your business more profitably.