The average employee uses 10 different apps to complete their tasks every day and the more apps they use, the longer they spend feeling distracted or procrastinating1. That lost productivity can add up: an enterprise with 2,500 employees could lose 325,000 hours of productivity annually2. Not to mention the fact that we are all paying more for Microsoft 365 these days. Doesn’t it make sense to squeeze every drop of value out of the platform?
There are huge opportunities to better leverage Microsoft 365 to deliver the business services you need without:
- Incurring another set of costs
- Losing data sovereignty
- Requiring more training and documentation
- Reducing productivity via context switching
1) Slack VS Teams
Why are you still paying for Slack? Microsoft Teams is a juggernaut and Microsoft just keeps adding more features, additional integrations and greater customisations. Teams provides an uninterrupted workflow within Microsoft 365, combining all collaboration tools and other M365 productivity applications in a single dashboard. It includes video and voice calls for up to 300 users for the paid plan and up to 20 users for the free plan, while Slack only offers one-to-one video and voice calls. Want to know about mentions and meetings but not likes or voicemails? Teams also offers more granular notifications options than Slack.
COST IMPACT: Paid Slack subscriptions (if you need more than 90 days history and meetings with more than one person) start at $11.35 per user per month.
1Asana's Anatomy of Work Index 2022
2Slack State of Work
2) Zoom VS Teams meetings
Microsoft Teams for remote & hybrid meetings really is the go-to for most organisations running Microsoft 365. It offers multi-factor authentication, breakout rooms and real-time collaboration on shared documents, as well as seamless post-meeting access to content through cloud services.
If you are regularly running webinars however, Teams may not deliver everything you need as it lacks promotional features including reminder emails. All participants can also see each other as well as access the chat. Zoom also seems to cope better with slower internet and the Enterprise option can accommodate 1,000 participants whereas Teams is limited to 300. If you are not running webinars – Teams is the obvious choice, but if you are, it may not cover 100% of your requirements.
COST IMPACT: Zoom for business costs AUD $310 per user per year.
3) Confluence VS Loop
Loop combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across applications — enabling teams to think, plan, and create together.
Many organisations use Confluence as an internal knowledge base system as well as a space to collaborate. Users can plan projects, form communities, share and discuss ideas, ask for recommendations and get feedback. But now we have Microsoft Loop: an “all in one” co-creation and collaboration platform. Loop is a blank canvas for teams and projects on which users can combine kanban boards, Gantt charts, wikis, To Do lists and comment boards. We can link pages together, seamlessly moving from one canvas to another so your files are always easy to find. It might take a while to get used to but Loop offers a flexible and compelling alternative to Confluence.
COST IMPACT: If you have more than 10 people in your organisation, Confluence will set you back $8.70 per user per month. Loop is currently in free preview but may attract costs in the future.
4) Trello VS Planner
Microsoft Planner and Trello offer solutions for project and task management. Both tools are based on the idea of card-based kanban boards rather than traditional task lists, creating a digital version of a physical board with various Post-It notes tracking tasks. You can create tasks as cards and assign them to team members, then use comments to communicate with stakeholders.
As part of the Microsoft 365 suite, Planner integrates with a range of apps to help your team tackle just about any job together. Trello is a simpler tool that delivers a narrower range of features.
COST IMPACT: While there is a free Trello plan, business users will need at least the standard plan at $5 per user per month.
5) SharePoint/OneDrive vs DropBox
As a web-based collaborative platform, SharePoint excels at document management, file sharing and team collaboration, enabling users to store and share files securely within an organisation. The organisation can access 1 TB of storage within SharePoint, plus 10 GB of additional space with each additional license.
Dropbox offers cloud storage and sharing, eSignature, document tracking and backup, but lacks the richness of the SharePoint interface which can include images, video, polls and other interactive and engaging features.
COST IMPACT: The Standard business Dropbox plan is $277.20 per user per year.
6) Power BI vs Tableau
As part of the Microsoft Power Platform, Power BI is a business analytics tool that provides interactive visualisations and business intelligence capabilities. It can be used to analyse data and share insights across an organisation, serving as a potential alternative to Tableau for data visualisation and reporting.
COST IMPACT: Realistically, Tableau is a fairly comprehensive offering with a multitude of customisations so it’s unlikely that you are accidentally spending $59 per user per month.
7) Microsoft Forms vs Survey Monkey
Microsoft Forms allows you to create surveys, quizzes, and polls quickly and easily. It offers a user-friendly interface, data analysis capabilities, and integrates well with other Microsoft 365 apps. This makes it a viable option for replacing third-party survey tools like SurveyMonkey or Typeform.
COST IMPACT: Minimal. The free version of Survey Monkey offers adequate functionality for most uses. The real benefits are security and integration with the M365 family.
8) Notion vs OneNote
OneNote and Notion are information repositories, allowing your team to create, organise and share notes about clients, projects, products – whatever your business needs. Both tools enable real-time collaboration allowing multiple users to work on the same note simultaneously.
OneNote is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office suite and notes are easy to organise, stored in a hierarchical structure with notebooks, sections, and pages. It can even support digital ink with multiple pen thicknesses and shape rotation for users who prefer handwriting or sketching. Dictate or hand write your notes and the OCR feature will transcribe to searchable text.
Notion allows users to create databases, templates, to-do lists, and kanban boards as well as supporting rich media such as embedded files, images, videos, and code snippets. Notion is endlessly customisable but that can be its biggest downfall, resulting in constant tinkering and building without actual work getting done.
COST IMPACT: Notion business plans start at $11.80 per user per month if you pay annually.
9) Power Apps/Power Automate vs everything
Business process management software is a hot topic, and many organisations are seeking user friendly, time saving software solutions. Using solutions with low or no-code app development helps business users proactively automate their processes without waiting for IT to have the capacity to help.
It’s not practical to compare them all but some of the apps that can potentially be replaced by Power Platform are:
Power Apps: Appian, Quickbase, Mendix, APEX,
Power Automate: Appian, Nintex, Kissflow, Laserfiche
COST IMPACT: As an example, Quickbase starts at USD$35 / user per month, up to $55 for business plans. Appian has a free version but paid business starts at $75/user.
10) Grammarly vs Word
Microsoft Word and Grammarly are both valuable tools for writing, but they can serve different purposes and offer distinct benefits. You probably know that Microsoft Word includes built-in spelling and grammar checking capabilities. But did you know Word also offers other features like autocorrect, synonym suggestions and readability analysis? It can identify complex sentences, passive voice and overused words.
While Grammarly offers more advanced features and in-depth writing analysis, Microsoft Word can be as helpful for most users for basic spelling and grammar checking, formatting, and seamless integration within the Microsoft Office ecosystem.
COST IMPACT: The business plan for Grammarly is $21 per user per month which includes 1,000 prompts per month + company style guides.
Ultimately, the choice between Microsoft 365 apps and their more specialised counterparts depends on user skills and preferences, platform compatibility and most frequent use cases. If your team members are handy with a process flow but need a bit of help crafting effective communications, maybe pay the extra for Grammarly. Are you running complex data analysis with an internal BI team? Perhaps you need the extra boost of Tableau.
Microsoft 365 offers a lot of good stuff that you might not be using. Before signing up for ANOTHER SaaS product, check if you are already paying for the same thing with Microsoft 365.
Need more M365 ideas? Request our guide to quick, low cost projects you can knock out before Christmas.