Microsoft 365 has established itself as the best-in-class productivity and collaboration platform for businesses. Microsoft 365 offers 4 different subscription tiers, however there are really only 2 tiers that are suitable for professional organizations of up to 300 people – Business Standard and Business Premium. This article will explain what is included with Standard and Premium and compare the plans based on several key factors.
What’s Included in Microsoft 365 Business Standard
Business Standard can be thought of as your Microsoft 365 For Business Starter Pack. Business Standard will provide your business with everything you need to be productive, including:
- Office Applications – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote (includes desktop application and web version)
- Instant Messaging & Video Conferencing – Connect with internal and external partners using Teams
- Email & Calendaring – Includes email domain hosting and 50 GB mailbox per user
- Cloud-Based File Storage & Collaboration – OneDrive & SharePoint allows you to access your files from any device and collaborate on documents in real time with your team; no more hunting for the most recent version of a document
- Multi-Device Support – Install Office applications on up to 5 mobile devices, 5 tablets, and 5 PCs per user
Cost: $12.50 per user/per month (up to 300 users)
Included Applications & Services:
What’s Included in Microsoft 365 Business Premium
Business Premium includes everything that comes with Business Standard, plus:
- Advanced Threat Protection – Applies advanced security features to protect your endpoints, inbox, and files stored in SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams.
- Microsoft Defender for Office 365 will protect your inbox from malicious links/attachments and provide impersonation protection that can flag phishing emails
- Cloud-Based Identity & Access Management – Azure AD P1 will help your team securely access Microsoft 365 and other external SaaS tools
- Conditional Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) will challenge your team to prove they are who they say they are when accessing company resources; conditional means you can configure your MFA to only challenge people when unusual activity is detected (i.e. signing in from a new location or an unrecognized device)
- Role-based permissions through the creation of security groups; control what data and systems your team can access so that your team can only access the information they need to do their individual jobs
- Single-Sign On (SSO) for Microsoft and thousands of other integrated SaaS tools; meaning you can secure access to non-Microsoft tools by having them authenticate through your Azure AD to grant access
- PC & Mobile Device Management – Deploy Office applications, apply security policies, and manage company data on all your devices through Intune
- Control how your company data is stored and accessed
- Remotely wipe all corporate data from a device if it is stolen or lost
- Allows you to protect your data on your employees personal devices without violating their privacy and trust by only having permissions for applications that contain company data (like Office apps)
- Convenient bulk device enrollment through Intune enables you to enforce your organization’s security policies and standards on all devices that access corporate data
Cost: $22 per user/per month (up to 300 users)
Included Applications & Services:
Microsoft 365 Business Standard vs Premium
Now that we’ve covered what is included in both Business Standard and Premium, it’s time to see how they compare on security, productivity, cost, implementation, and management.
Round 1 Security
Business Standard comes with some basic security features that come standard with the Microsoft Office applications and cloud services, but it is clear that Business Standard does not include the security features today’s businesses require.
Business Premium’s primary selling point is it’s security capabilities. It is intended to provide smaller organizations with enterprise-grade security tools and features like Identity Management, Mobile Device Management (MDM), and information security. Microsoft Defender for Office 365, included with Business Premium, is an excellent way to protect your people from phishing attacks, which are among the most common cyber attack vectors.
Winner: Business Premium
Round 2 Productivity
Regardless of which plan you choose, you’re going to have the best-in-class productivity suite for business. Microsoft 365’s primary productivity benefits are delivered through the Office application suite, cloud-based file storage and document collaboration (OneDrive & SharePoint), and it’s communication platform (Teams). Although Business Premium comes with some additional productivity features, there isn’t enough of a difference to claim that Premium will drastically boost your team’s productivity over Business Standard.
Round 3 Cost
There is no getting around that Business Premium is almost twice the cost of Business Standard. However, if you’re looking at it from a value perspective then Premium makes a strong case. Prior to the creation of Business Premium, you would have to spend around $40 per user/per month for all of the tools and features that come with it.
Winner: Business Standard
Round 4 Implementation
A Microsoft 365 implementation (done properly) is a major project regardless of which plan you choose. If you opt for Business Premium, that will create a larger project as you will also need to configure each of the additional tools that come along with it. If you choose an experienced Microsoft partner for your implementation, the additional project hours will be kept to a minimum. Implementing Microsoft and all of the Premium tools at once is far more efficient than piecemealing it together over multiple projects.
Winner: Draw – It is a significant implementation either way
Round 5 IT Management
Your IT team needs the ability to effectively manage your organization’s devices, user profiles, and data. Business Premium, through Azure & Intune, gives your IT team the ability to manage your users, their permissions, and the devices they work from while providing a mechanism to enforce your IT and security policies. The IT management capabilities of Premium are especially important for organizations that outsource their IT or that utilize a remote/hybrid workforce.
Winner: Business Premium
We believe that Microsoft 365 Business Premium is the clear choice for organizations that value security. The immense cyber security and IT management functionality over Business Standard for only ~$10 per user/per month is a fantastic value. However, there are some considerations:
- Microsoft 365 is only as useful as you make it. It is critical that you take the time to do your implementation properly, fully thinking through what you need it to accomplish and how you will determine success. A poor Microsoft 365 Business Premium implementation will not give you the value that you are paying for.
- The primary benefit of Business Premium over Standard is security. Unfortunately, effective cyber security isn’t something that you can just buy out of the box. It is a journey that requires you to think through your risks, develop a security posture, and build a culture that takes security seriously. If your business is just starting your security journey you will still benefit from the security features in Business Premium, but you may not be able to take full advantage of them until you have a more mature security strategy. If you are someone that is just starting to think about your cyber security, take a look at our IT Security Levels to learn what tools and services you should prioritize getting.
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