Whether you are a Los Angeles accounting firm with a staff of five or fifty, Microsoft Office 365 provides a very compelling cloud-based office productivity suite. Office 365 subscribers can choose packages that include combinations of:
- Hosted Exchange Email
- Lync Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing
- OneDrive for Business: Document Management and File-Sharing
- Dynamics CRM Online
- Power BI: Reporting and Data Analytics
- Office, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, and Publisher
- Web Application versions of Office
Accounting firms can take advantage of the generous amount of cloud file storage in SharePoint for client data. They can also collaborate with customers on documents with Lync and have business class e-mail with Outlook.
For CPAs on the go, Microsoft has recently extended their mobile app footprint and provides Windows Phone, Android, and iOS apps for the various components of the Office 365 suite.Outlook Web Access email used to be the best option for mobile devices, but now Samsung and Apple phones and tablets offer sophisticated apps for everything from Outlook and Lync to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
If your firm has struggled (or resisted) upgrading from Office 2003 to 2010 and then to 2013, the Office 365 solution eliminates the need for perpetual licenses and upgrades. Monthly subscriptions average around eight to twelve dollars per user per month, and you avoid the cost and complexity of having to do on-premise upgrades.
With this, you’re looking at savings from the lack of capital license costs, database licenses, and hardware maintenance. The combination of these factors can create a compelling case for transitioning from traditional, on-premise email and file hosting to a migration to Office 365.
Office 365’s centralized administration portal allows you to add or delete users quickly and also to provision users for mobile access. Administrators can monitor utilization, and set access to applications, according to their role.
If you are using online versions of traditional accounting applications, you can integrate with the Office 365 suite elements including email and OneDrive. Examples include:
- QuickBooks Online
- Sage One
- Xero Accounting
If you are using Dynamics CRM or are in the market for a Customer Relationship Management system, Dynamics CRM provides an integrated add-on to Outlook email. You can purchase Dynamics CRM bundled with Office 365, along with Power BI, a robust, Excel-based reporting tool.
You can source data from multiple firm repositories and generate charts and dashboards of performance data for clients and internal metrics.
For secure, reliable email and file storage, and productivity applications you know and trust, Office 365 provides an affordable, integrated solution which is hard to match. Microsoft runs multiple data centers worldwide to ensure the availability of your critical information, and eliminates the need for add-ons like spam filtering appliances, and minimizes the need for on-site server hardware.
If you have employees that work from home, Office 365 can be installed on five computers and mobile devices, offering different ways to access email and files when and where you need them.
Have you subscribed to Office 365 for your LA accounting firm? What have your experiences been? Please share your thoughts in the section for Comments below.
To follow-through on the tips introduced in this short article, be sure to download your free guide, 12 Ways for CPA Firms in LA to Utilize Technology More Efficiently.