In today’s modern business landscape, the role of technology in optimising productivity and securing sensitive data cannot be overstated. Microsoft 365 (M365) stands as a cornerstone solution, offering a range of plans tailored to diverse business needs.
Whether you’re an enterprise organisation seeking advanced security, regulatory, internal compliance and analytics capabilities, or a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) looking for essential collaboration tools, with a range of M365 business plans available, it’s vital to understand the key differences between these plans and how they can benefit their specific needs.
In this post, we explore the Microsoft 365 plans available, highlighting the key differences, including the M365 Business Plans, Enterprise Plans (E), Frontline (F) and Education (A) plans, along with a breakdown of features and benefits, and insights into which plans are most suited for varying types of business.
There are also a number of “Add-ons” that enable feature uplift between plans and also specific Office 365 plans but for this post, we will focus on the main Microsoft 365 plans as they provide the best balance of productivity, security and compliance.
By understanding the distinctions between these plans and considering your organisation’s requirements, you can make an informed decision and choose the plan that aligns with your business goals.
If you are an organisation of over 300 users, the M365 Enterprise E Plans are required as the Business Plans are limited to a maximum of 300 users.
Microsoft M365 E3
Ideal for SMEs and Growing Businesses
Microsoft 365 E3 is a robust proposition that strikes a fine balance between productivity and security. Tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and growing businesses, it includes an impressive suite of applications and tools designed to enhance collaboration, communication, and document management.
The key to its appeal lies in its versatility, which suits businesses that seek a holistic approach to productivity, compliance, and security. Here’s a closer look at the benefits and features of M365 E3:
- Office Applications: Access to familiar Office apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, enabling seamless document creation, editing, and sharing.
- Cloud Storage: 1TB of OneDrive for Business storage per user, ensuring easy and secure file storage and sharing.
- Email and Calendar: Exchange Online for efficient email communication and calendaring, enhancing team collaboration.
- Teams Collaboration: Microsoft Teams – a powerful platform for real-time communication, video conferencing, and collaboration.
- Mobile Device Management with Intune: A single platform to manage various mobile devices, ensuring consistent policies, configurations, and updates.
- Security Features: Advanced threat protection, data loss prevention, and encryption to safeguard sensitive information.
- Compliance Tools: Inclusive compliance and archiving tools to meet industry regulations and data retention requirements.
- Mobile Apps: Access to Office mobile apps for productivity on-the-go.
- Viva Solutions: Including Viva Insights, Learning, Engage and Communications, bringing together communication, feedback, analytics, goals, and learning, all in one unified solution.
- Automation : Power Apps, Chat Bots and Power Automate, quickly automate corporate processes and workflows.
- Windows : Latest Windows versions along with features and security benefits. Enablement and access to Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365 (Cloud PC). Virtual Desktop Access licence for your VDI clients (required for any vendor VDI solutions)
Microsoft M365 E5
Tailored for Enterprises with Advanced Security & Compliance Needs
The pinnacle of M365 plans is E5. Microsoft 365 E5 is a premium plan designed for larger enterprises and organisations that require advanced security, compliance, and analytics capabilities.
Microsoft M365 E5 offers a robust set of features to ensure data protection, compliance, and in-depth insights. Some key benefits and features of M365 E5 include:
- All E3 Features: M365 E5 includes all the features of E3, ensuring access to productivity, security, compliance and collaboration tools.
- Advanced Threat Protection: Enhanced security against sophisticated cyber threats with additional features for Microsoft Defender for Endpoint and Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection, Identity, Cloud Apps and Cloud App security. Enhanced risk and identity protection, privilege identity management and access reviews.
- Advanced Compliance: Automatic document labelling and classification along with additional compliance tools and features for meeting complex regulatory requirements. Machine learning and rules-based retention and data lifecycle management, records management, insider risk management and communication compliance.
- Advanced Analytics: Power BI Pro for powerful data visualization and business intelligence capabilities.
- Phone System: Cloud-based phone system capabilities, including domestic and international calling plans.
- Audio Conferencing: Dial-in access for Microsoft Teams meetings.
- MyAnalytics: Personal productivity insights to enhance individual and team efficiency.
See the Microsoft 365 User Subscription Suites for Enterprise Businesses to find the right plan for your business.
When reviewing the Microsoft M365 Plan comparison, it is critical to remember that selecting the appropriate M365 plan depends on your business size, collaboration, and security requirements.
Microsoft A Plans
Specifically Designed for Educational Institutions
Microsoft A plans, including A1, A3 and A5, are designed specifically for educational institutions to support teaching, learning, and administrative functions, allowing them to create a modern and connected learning environment.
Microsoft 365 A1 provides a simple solution to support learners with desktop apps, cloud management through Microsoft Intune for Education, with a one-time payment per device.
Microsoft 365 A3 offers a more comprehensive suite of apps and enhanced security features to support educators, students, and administrative staff, whilst Microsoft 365 A5 provides the latest and most advanced innovations in security, compliance, analytics, and collaboration.
Microsoft F Plans
Specifically Designed for Frontline Workers
Microsoft F plans, F1 and F3 offer cost savings over E Plans and are specifically designed for organisations with frontline workers, where employees are on the go, often using mobile devices and working directly with customers or the general public. Microsoft 365 Frontline Worker licenses may be assigned to users who have access to a single device with a screen smaller than 10.1 inches, or where devices are shared across multiple users/shift workers for example.
Some key benefits and features of M365 F plans include:
- Office Apps: Access to online versions of Microsoft Office applications for document creation and collaboration.
- Email and Calendar: Exchange Online for business-class email, shared calendars, and improved communication.
- Online Meetings and Chat: Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings, chat, and real-time collaboration.
- Document Management: SharePoint Online for efficient document storage, sharing, and collaboration.
- Cloud-Based Tools: Cloud flexibility for remote work and collaboration from anywhere.
- Efficient Collaboration: Tools like Teams and SharePoint facilitate seamless teamwork and information sharing.
- Enhanced Communication: Connect through advanced email and chat features.
- Data Security: Built-in security measures, including threat protection and data loss prevention.
Blending M365 E and F Plans
For organisations that have diverse needs across different departments, sites, or user groups blending a Microsoft 365 F plan with an E plan is also a strategic consideration. This hybrid approach allows organisations to maximise the benefits of both plans to cater to specific requirements. Below are some examples where we have blended E and F plans for our clients:
- Nonprofit: E3 plans for internal operations, where advanced security and compliance features are essential, but utilising F1 or F3 plans for volunteers who primarily require basic communication and collaboration tools.
- Retail: Management and administrative staff at the headquarters and offices have access to an E plan, delivering them the advanced corporate functions required, with frontline workers, such as store associates utilising a Microsoft 365 F1 plan.
- Utilities: The engineering and technical teams benefit from a Microsoft 365 E3 plan with access to advanced security features and enhanced collaboration capabilities, whilst field workers and operators use a Microsoft 365 F3 plan, allowing operators to receive real-time instructions, report incidents, and coordinate tasks using mobile devices ensuring efficient and safe operations in the field.
- Hybrid Business Structures: Companies with diverse business units, with a nonprofit arm, use E plans for their main business operations and F plans for their nonprofit initiatives or frontline workers, tailoring tools to each sector’s unique needs.
Where possible, organisations should look at where they can strategically blend Microsoft 365 plans, based on the unique needs of their workforce segments, to enhance productivity, collaboration, and communication and optimise costs.
Selecting the appropriate M365 plan depends on your business size, collaboration, and security requirements. Small organisations (under 300 users) and startups can also enjoy the features available with a basic, standard or premium business plan, as summarised below.
Microsoft 365 Business Premium
An ideal choice for Growing Enterprises with Regulatory Compliance needs
Microsoft 365 Business Premium is a comprehensive subscription plan designed to meet the diverse needs of businesses. It offers a full suite of Office applications, enabling offline and advanced document editing, along with cloud services like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Teams for communication and collaboration. The plan prioritises security with multi-factor authentication, data loss prevention, and advanced threat protection, while also including mobile device management and a Windows 10 Pro license for enhanced device security.
Microsoft 365 Business Premium is well-suited for businesses seeking a unified approach to productivity, security, and management, making it an ideal choice for growing enterprises and those with regulatory compliance needs.
Microsoft 365 Business Standard
Well-suited for SMEs that value both Desktop and Online Office Apps
Microsoft 365 Business Standard, formerly Office 365 Business Premium, aims to empower businesses in diverse industries with a range of tools, making it an adaptable and integrated solution for those looking to enhance productivity, collaboration, and communication within their organisation. This plan includes the full suite of Office applications, Exchange for email, SharePoint for file sharing, and Microsoft Teams. It’s ideal for small to medium-sized businesses seeking comprehensive productivity and collaboration tools.
This plan is particularly beneficial for businesses that value both desktop and online versions of Office applications, enabling them to enhance teamwork, document management, and client communication. It is also relevant to professional services, retail, hospitality, startups, and educational institutions, providing versatile tools to streamline operations, improve client interactions, and boost overall efficiency. Additionally, Microsoft 365 Business Standard is suitable for remote and distributed teams, offering effective means of staying connected and collaborating on projects.
Microsoft 365 Business Basic
An Excellent Entry-Level Option for Small Teams or Startups
Microsoft 365 Business Basic, formerly Office 365 Business Essentials, is tailored for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), startups, and businesses with remote teams. It’s ideal for those seeking a practical and budget-friendly solution to enhance productivity and connectivity. This plan offers cloud email, shared calendars, and Microsoft Teams for virtual meetings and file sharing, making it a cost-effective choice for those prioritising seamless remote work and simplified communication. Additionally, it suits startups aiming for scalability and nonprofits with budget constraints that require basic productivity tools. As businesses grow, they can consider upgrading to more advanced plans for expanded features and capabilities.
See the Microsoft 365 User Subscription Suites for Small and Medium-sized Businesses to find the right plan for your business.
Upgrading Your M365 Plan
Upgrading your M365 plan is a strategic move that can enhance your organisation’s productivity, security, and overall success. To support businesses evolving needs, upgrade paths within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem allow businesses to easily transition from one plan to another.
By carefully assessing needs and consulting with experts, such as Krome, organisations can successfully navigate the upgrade paths and unlock the full potential of their chosen M365 plan.
Here’s a closer look at the upgrade paths and how Krome can help you:
- Understanding the Need for Upgrade: Identify the specific features, tools, or capabilities that your current plan lacks but are crucial to your business operations. This assessment will serve as a guiding compass in choosing the right upgrade path.
- Exploring Upgrade Options: Evaluate which plan aligns best with your newfound requirements. For instance, if your business is currently on Microsoft 365 Business Basic but needs advanced security features and offline access to Office applications, you might consider upgrading to Microsoft 365 Business Standard or even Microsoft 365 Business Premium.
- Consulting with Experts: Engaging with an experienced Microsoft partner, such as Krome will provide you with valuable insights into the upgrade process. Our experts can guide you through the technical aspects, potential challenges, and benefits of the upgrade, ensuring a seamless transition.
- Preparing Data Migration: If your upgrade involves moving data, such as emails, files, or documents, it’s essential to plan the migration process carefully. Krome has vast experience migrating Microsoft environments and can work with you to deliver a seamless migration, without data loss or disruptions.
- Communication and Training: Change management is key to a successful upgrade. Inform your employees about the upcoming changes and new features they can expect. Provide training sessions or resources to help them familiarise themselves with the upgraded tools and applications.
- Monitoring and Feedback: Once the upgrade is complete, Krome can monitor the transition and gather feedback from users. This feedback can help you identify any challenges or areas where additional training or adjustments might be needed.
- Continuous Evaluation: As your business evolves, your needs may change again. Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your upgraded plan and ensure that it continues to align with your organisation’s goals.
M365 Migration Partner Krome
Krome offers extensive Microsoft 365 consultancy, migration and implementation expertise; by evaluating your current infrastructure and strategically planning how to most effectively migrate your users, or optimise your solution to work for you. Whatever the challenge, we will ensure that your organisation is able to fully leverage the power of your selected Microsoft 365 platform.
Krome is a Microsoft Cloud Solutions Partner (CSP) and also holds Gold Partner status. CSP and Gold Partners are recognised for offering innovative business solutions and are accredited independent solution providers. CSP and Gold competencies are earned by completing a rigorous set of pre-sales and technical assessments, exams, to obtain multiple certifications to prove technology expertise. Krome is also a Microsoft Direct Cloud Solutions Partner and is able to recommend and provide Microsoft licences including Azure, Dynamics, Microsoft 365 and on-premise licences to both commercial and public sector customers.
To speak to a member of the Krome team about the Microsoft M365 plan comparison, or your existing Microsoft 365 environment, please contact us on 01932 232345 or complete the form below.