What Office 365 Plan is Right for my Business?

Microsoft offers many different Office 365 plans to cater for a wide variety of needs, but choosing the right plan can be a daunting task. This article helps you in making the decision that’s right for your small and medium sized business.

Office 365 Plans

Office 365 is available as a monthly or annual subscription for home use and commercial use. As a business, you should choose a plan that is licensed for commercial use. The commercial use plans are further grouped into Business plans and Enterprise plans. The Business plans, which cater for smaller businesses, have a limit of 300 users. The Enterprise plans, which cater for larger enterprises, don’t have a limit for the number of users. As a small to medium business, you can choose between the following Office 365 Business plans:

  • Business Premium – this is the most comprehensive of the Business plans offered at a cost of $12.50/user/month for an annual commitment. The plan includes the following Office applications: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access (PC only) and Publisher (PC only). The plan also includes the following services: Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams.
  • Business – this plan is available at $8.25/user/month for an annual commitment. It includes all the Office applications offered through the Business Premium plan, but only includes OneDrive for Business as a service. All the other services available through the Business Premium plan are excluded.
  • Business Essentials – this is the smallest of the plans offered at a cost of $5/user/month for an annual commitment. It includes all the services that are offered through Business Premium. It doesn’t include the full suite of Office applications, and only offers online versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

Office Applications

Business and Business Premium permit you to install Office applications on up to 5 PCs or Macs, 5 phones and 5 tablets. This offers every assigned user in your organization the flexibility to work in the office, at home or on the road, using the device of their choice. It also allows them to continue working in the absence of Internet connectivity. The online versions of the Office applications, which are included in all Business plans, work directly with your documents in the cloud. However, they don’t include some of the advanced functionality of the Office applications that are installed on a device. It is recommended that you choose Business or Business Premium, unless you have already made an investment in Office 2016.

Office 365 Services

Small businesses will benefit immensely from the services included in Office 365. Exchange offers business-class email, while OneDrive stores your files in the cloud and syncs with your devices. SharePoint sites are great for sharing documents and workflows through an Intranet, and Skype for Business offers integrated communication through Video and Audio Conferencing and Instant Messaging. Microsoft Teams, the latest addition, offers a chat-based workspace in the cloud that fosters team collaboration within your organization. Services can be considered a must-have and it is recommended that you choose Business Premium or Business Essentials.


Business Premium offers the most comprehensive plan and is the best choice for your business if you can afford it. Business Essentials can be considered, when you have already invested in Office 2016, and are willing to use the online Office applications at a considerable cost saving. A Business plan should only be considered if the services within Office 365 are of no value to your business.

About Author:

Willy Simons came to Kenya from The Netherlands in 1994. He is a serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Oakar Services, Esri Eastern Africa and Spatiality. He blogs about business, geospatial technology and cloud computing.