Microsoft Business Voice

Business Voice

What is Microsoft 365 Business Voice

Microsoft business voice is a new service being offered by Microsoft.

It allows you to import your landline numbers into Microsoft Teams and utilise teams as your phone system.

Best suited for SMEs and particularly useful in the modern post COVID-19 world. It allows you to access your traditional desk phone number from either a mobile app, the teams desktop app or from a teams enabled desk phone. Perfect if you've got staff working from home but still need the sales calls picked up.

It has all the features of a simple phone system, allowing you to setup call routing and hunt groups. As long as your existing phone system isn't doing anything too complicated it should be able to slip straight in and handle all the facilities your current system does.

It's a Software as a Service product (see our article here about SaaS). It's licensed within Microsoft 365 (more details on Microsoft 365 here), this means you can scale it as you need. You only pay for what you require and you no longer have to look after the cumbersome hardware of a phone system on site.


What does it cost and what do you get

The standard cost is £12 user/month and that includes 1200 minutes of UK calls per user each month. These minutes are pooled at the tenant level. This means your users can share all their minutes between them. You likely have some users who make lots of calls and some who make hardly any. This allows you to share the minutes between them, making your allowances go further.

The only requirement is your users need to have a Microsoft 365 license as well.

You can implement desk phones, if you like the traditional approach, but the system works just as well from within the Teams desktop app with a headset, making a very cheap way of implementing a new system.

If you'd like to chat about implementing Microsoft 365 Business voice then please give us a call on 01252 918 990, or why not book in free consultation here

Microsoft 365 Business Premium - What do you get for your money

M365 Business details

We previously wrote a blog on the varying levels of Microsoft 365 licensing for small businesses (have a read here). In that article we highlighted that our recommendation to our clients would be the Business Premium license level.


In this article we're going to look at the main reasons why we recommend this and why it's worth the extra money.


Whilst there are a number of minor additions included in the business premium license, there are a two key features which make the extra money a sound investment for your business.


Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)

ATP is the name for a selection of features designed to protect you and your business from spam email, phishing attacks and other malware.


It comprises of the following features

  • A powerful spam filter - Used to filter out spam email. It uses artificial intelligence to scan the email and make a better judgement on what is spam and what is genuine.
  • An anti-phishing policies -  These prevent or at least highlight what it sees as attempts to impersonate your users. This protects against the type of attack where an attacker impersonates a senior manager and asks a more junior person to do something, say transfer some money.
  • Malware detection - Checks emails and notifies users when suspected malware is detected.
  • Safe links - Scans all links sent in emails to ensure the destination site is safe. Preventing the user clicking on a link which is dangerous.
  • Safe attachments - Scans all email attachments before they are given to a user. Identifying and removing any malware before a user can access it.


These tools help to protect your users and business from a number of threats. There will always be different levels of IT knowledge and experience within your team.  The risk to your business of someone clicking the wrong link or entering their credentials in the wrong website is huge. The extra help these tools bring is invaluable and can save you both money and brand reputation in the long run.



Intune is a feature which allows you to manage your business devices. Intune can keep track of all your devices. It can highlight any devices which are no longer compliant from a security perspective. You can use it to manage updates and deploy software to laptops and desktops. In the event a device is lost or stolen, you can remotely remove all the company information from that device.


In a growing business there is a real risk of losing track of company equipment. Intune allows you to keep track of all your devices. In the event a device has gone missing you can effectively turn it into a paperweight. Removing all your corporate information from it and any risk of your data getting into the wrong hands.


We've all ignored updates for our devices. Many users within your organisation will continually ignore them and allow their machines to get out of date. You can use Intune to ensure critical security updates are delivered to all your devices, ensure that they are compliant and if devices become non-compliant, you can remove their access to your company data.


In short, Intune allows you to manage risk and takes the responsibility away from your individual staff members.



Both ATP and Intune allow you to manage risk within your business. They are both there so your users no longer have to worry about these threats. They centralise the management of risk and ensure a consistent approach throughout your business.


To us, the additional license cost is a very reasonable price for this reduction in risk.


If you'd like to have a chat about Microsoft 365 licensing and the benefits of the premium license or anything else then please give us a call on 01252 918 990 or book a free consultation with one of the team here.

Microsoft 365 Licensing - What's best for your business

M365 Business


Microsoft 365 licensing can look very confusing from the outset. Understanding what you need for your business and finding the information on what each level of licensing actually gives you can be quite a challenge. Combine that with a recent rebranding from Office 365 to Microsoft 365 and renaming all the license levels , there is a lot of confusion around.

The license options for small businesses can broadly be broken down into 3 options:


Microsoft 365 Business Basic (£3.80 user/month)

As the name suggests, this is the basic license. It provides you with email, online storage and access to MS Teams. It doesn't provide you with access to the desktop apps. With this license you can't use Excel, Word, PowerPoint or Outlook on your desktop. However, you do get access to the web versions of the Office apps.

This license is probably most useful for someone in your team who needs access to email primarily working on a Mobile or Tablet. You want to be able to share files to them, primarily for read only purposes.


Microsoft 365 Business Standard (£9.40 user/month)

The standard offering has all the features of the basic version, plus access the desktop applications. This means that this license is suitable for someone using a laptop or desktop computer and accessing your files and data to edit.

If you're getting started and just bringing on a couple of members of staff, this license level probably suits you best.


Microsoft 365 Business Premium (£15.10 user/month)

The premium license has all the features of the basic and standard licenses but adds additional features including the ability to manage devices, laptops, mobiles tablets. It also includes advanced threat protection which helps protect your business from spam and malware threats.


We generally recommend a premium license. That said, it probably only suites businesses who have an IT partner on board to manage the additional features.

You can mix and match your licenses. We have a few clients who give basic licenses to staff members who don't need the desktop apps and primarily only use email, whilst the rest of their staff use standard or premium licenses.

It's worth mentioning you can also get an Exchange Online license. This is just email and nothing else. The license is £3 user/month. We generally don't advise clients to go down this road as the cost difference with the basic license is minimal. We often find users who just have email do occasionally need access to shared files or other services. However, it is an option if you have users who only need an email address.

We always happy to chat with anyone about their Microsoft 365 licensing options. Why not book a free consultation here, or give us a call if you have any questions on 01252 918 990.

If you're interested in reading more you can see our article here about how combining Microsoft 365 with Windows 10 Pro can add value to your business.


Microsoft 365 and Windows Pro - The right combination for small and medium businesses

Windows 10 Microsoft 365

Windows 10 - Home vs Pro

IT in many smaller businesses starts with the company owners personal laptop. When they take on their first member of staff they pop down PC world and buy a laptop off the shelf for them. Both these machines are setup as if they were personal machines and not configured for business. There's a pretty high chance both will be running Windows 10 Home.

This may happen a few times and then a member of staff leaves. When you go to hand the company laptop over to the new hire who is replacing them, you realise it's setup for the old member of staffs personal details. The old member of staff has the passwords and understandably may be less than keen to share passwords to their personal accounts.

Windows 10 Pro costs about £100 more than the home edition. When you look at the feature comparisons you may not at first see who value in the extra £100 spend.

What that £100 buys you is the ability to manage the device as a business device. Combined with Microsoft 365, you can log into a Windows 10 Pro device with your business email address and password. The device can be managed by the business and most importantly when a member of staff leaves, you can change their password and log in. Any new member of staff can also log into the same laptop with their company email address. No need for the device to be reconfigured.

This makes your company equipment easily portable between users and in fact even gives you the option to allow staff visiting a location to log into any laptop or PC that is free.


Microsoft 365

This is all made possible by Microsoft 365. The management features you have access to will depend on your license level (see our blog here on Microsoft 365 licensing).

Microsoft 365 is a Software as a Service product (read more about why they're a good idea here), which means that you purchase it on a subscription basis and pay only for the number of users you have. Meaning you can scale it easily as your business grows.

Microsoft 365 is not just about access to the Office applications and email. It also gives you a platform to manage all your users, their email, store your files and manage access.

As your business starts out, these management features will be less of a concern, but as you grow and you take on more staff, you'll likely want to section off parts of your data to ensure that only those that need access to it have it. Requirements to ensure your data is secure will become more important as you delegate more responsibility. Microsoft 365 gives you the power to do this. Combined with Windows 10 Pro it creates a near seamless experience for your users accessing their resources.

Please get in touch if you're facing any of the challenges mentioned here. We would be very happy to talk about how Microsoft 365 and Window 10 Pro may help. You can book a free 1 hour consultation with our team here, or give us a call on 01252 918 990.

Do you need to backup Cloud services

Cloud Backup



Many small businesses are using Software as a Service (SaaS) product, which primarily reside within the cloud. See our blog on the advantages of SaaS for small businesses here. These services are great for small businesses and allow you scale easily, however there is something of a misconception around the requirement for backing these services up.


If you had all your files sitting on a server in your office, you would undoubtedly be backing that server up.


Now you've moved all your files and email to the cloud, the requirement for backup is not quite as obvious. The service is run by Microsoft, or Google, or a similar massive tech company. "They don't have issues". "Their servers aren't going to collapse". "If they have a failure they'll have a redundant backup to restore the data".


Well… sort of. The first thing that is most important to note is with almost all these types of cloud services, their guarantees are only for the service. Not for your data. Obviously they don't try and lose your data but they make it clear it's your responsibility to manage it and back it up.


Yes, it is very unlikely that a service like Microsoft 365 is going to have such a huge issue that they'll lose all your data. That said it's not impossible but, cloud backups protect you from so much more.


Malicious / Accidental deletion

We've all done it by mistake. There are a few out there who have probably done it on purpose. Deleting files and not immediately noticing is a real problem. What if a project you worked on last year, was accidently or maliciously deleted. Whilst most cloud services offer you a recycle bin type setup, which allows you to recover recently deleted files. That almost certainly isn't enough. You probably wouldn't notice for a few weeks and without a backup, there's absolutely no way to get it back.


Ransomware attacks

Another prime example where a good backup strategy is worth its weight in gold is in the event of a Ransomware attack.


In this instance the original version of your files is encrypted on the cloud service. You are no longer able to access them. If you've only got the one copy that is quite a problem. You have the unenviable choice of having to make the decision between paying a ransom and hoping they stick to their word, or starting from scratch and accepting the files are lost.


This isn't a problem with a good backup. You can just revert to a copy of the backup before the files were encrypted. So you'll lose very little if any data.


Point in time backups

Accidently overwriting a file, even more of a problem with the increase in Autosave, can cause real problems especially if it's an old file you're using as a template. Perhaps it's a pricing structure for a particular project, used as a template for the new project and all that old info is now gone. You don't notice until you go back to the old project, possibly several months down the line.


With a point in time backup, you can restore that file as it was on any date since your backups began. So if you know when the project ended, you can be sure to get the right version back, which would be impossible without a good backup solution.



Here at SynEngin we're partnered with a company called CloudAlly. They provide a great cloud backup solution. This allows us to easily manage your backups. We can ensure any data copies happen at the right time to suit your business and ensure we can recover files quickly for you in the event of a problem.


There are others out there on the market as well. Regardless of how much data you have or how safe you think it is, I would highly recommend looking into a backup solution for your cloud services, don't wait until you have a problem.


If you'd like to have a chat about backing up your cloud services then please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can book a free 1 hour consultation with us here or give us a call on 01252 918 990.






Multi factor authentication - Something you know, something you own

MFA image

Passwords are problematic, we all need so many of them these days that the reality is we end up using the same password for a number of things. This poses a pretty serious problem. What if a slightly dubious shop you've bought something from gets hacked and they haven't encrypted their user's passwords. There's a good chance that the hacker now has your email address and the password you used at that website.

To the hacker there is now a pretty high chance that they can take that email address and password and use the same combination on a number of different sites. Perhaps your Facebook or twitter, or even your email itself. If you used the same password there the hacker now has access to everything. All your other accounts link back to your email address and they can then use this to change all your other passwords, locking you out completely.

In the business world, think of the damage that can be done to your reputation with a few tweets or emails sent to the wrong people.

So how do you prevent this? Well there is a pretty valid argument in using different passwords for different services so this type of thing can't happen. This is definitely recommended, however in addition to this the use of two factor authentication can add an extra layer of security to your accounts. Two factor authentication makes it almost impossible for a hacker to gain access to your accounts.

What is multi factor authentication?

It's based broadly on the same concept as you bank card with chip and pin. This works on the premise of something you own, your bank card, and something you know, your pin code. Therefore someone can steal your card and can't access you account without the pin. Or they can guess your pin but without the card this is useless.

In the IT password world, something you know is your password. But there is no natural something you own. Some companies introduce smart cards that need to be plugged into laptops to let you log into their systems. Not particularly practical in the internet age, where you may need one for Office 365, another for Facebook and another for Twitter etc.

The obvious choice that most service providers go for is the mobile phone, very rarely is this out of hands reach. They send a text message to the mobile with a code that you enter when you log in.

In this instance you have something you know, your password and something you own, your mobile phone or at the very least the code you could only have got from having that mobile phone to hand.

So unless a hacker or other malicious user knows your password and has access to your mobile phone, they're not getting in.

So what's the downside?

Not much to be honest, couple of more trivial things.

  1. Some older applications which simply pass your username and password to a server need a little extra configuration. You can setup application specific passwords which allow these to continue to connect without a code from your mobile phone every time.
  2. If you don't have your mobile phone to hand you may lose access to your data until you can get it. However most services allow you to put several numbers in from which you can receive a code. So as long as you spend the time at the beginning setting it up right this should never be a problem.

There is some discussion around the use of mobile phones as the second factor as not being particularly secure. Often the mobile phone also has the user's email and therefore the loss of a mobile phone, if unlocked, gives the thief / hacker complete access to everything.

That said, in our opinion, whilst not perfect, this offers significantly better protection than just using a password.

If you'd like any help with adding a layer of security and getting your services working with multi factor authentication then please get in touch with us at SynEngin and we'll be able to help you out.

Book a free consultation with us through our main site ( or reach out via phone or social media.

Software as a Service (SaaS), why it makes sense for small businesses

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)? Gartner (here) describes software as a service as:

"software that is owned, delivered and managed remotely by one or more providers. The provider delivers software based on one set of common code and data definitions that is consumed in a one-to-many model by all contracted customers at anytime on a pay-for-use basis or as a subscription based on use metrics."

So in essence, software that someone else manages and looks after, which you use on a subscription basis.

Examples you've possibly heard of include:

  • Office 365
  • Gsuite / Google docs
  • Xero
  • Quickbooks
  • SalesForce
  • Dropbox
  • Concur


These are all products which you purchase a subscription for, often paid for on a monthly basis. You don't need to put in any infrastructure to make it work, all you need is an internet connected device and you're away.

It's an all in service, support is provided by the company selling you the service (the provider) and there are no maintenance headaches, everything is managed by the provider, you just consume the service and when you're done you stop paying for it.

So why are these so suited to small businesses.



First and foremost it's cost, or probably better described as capital expenditure. There is no massive outlay at the beginning to use these services. You don't have to buy a server and employ a small IT army to get it up and running. You just purchase your subscription and off you go.



These products are by design very easy to scale up and down. Following a traditional model if you had a 6 month project where you needed to temporarily double your workforce, you'd need to have built that capacity into the service when you first installed it. Or you'd need to spend time and money building and upgrading your system to handle that capacity.

With SaaS products you just buy more subscriptions for the duration of the project, once the project's done, just remove them from your subscription.



You're a small business, you don't have a in house IT team but you need your essential systems to work when they're needed.

If you were running the infrastructure yourself and something goes wrong, you're unlikely to have built in redundancy, so a minor problem becomes a major one, you're stuck. You'll likely need to get someone in to fix it and all this is going to take time and cost money

With SaaS, none of this is your problem. You're not responsible for the servers at all and the companies that provide this software will have in place that any issues should barely be felt by the end users.

That said let's not be naïve, these services do sometimes have problems. However they have uptime guarantees normally in the region of 99.9% or greater. On top of that, they will have teams of experts looking into the issue to ensure they meet their targets.

This leads us on to the next point.


Ease to move

You're not tied in beyond your subscription term. If a service you're using isn't up to scratch, it's easy to move and the amount of money invested is limited.

Odds are there's another company out there doing pretty much the same thing. This means that SaaS companies are striving for more uptime and better customer service. Not only to keep you as a customer but to entice away those who are with their competition as the blockers to move are minimal.


Data Backups

It's important to remember that number of these services don't guarantee your data, just the service.

However there are a number of cloud backup providers who can manage the backup process in it's entirety, for very minimal costs. You don't have to worry about backup tapes or making sure that they run successfully.

It's backing up data from one cloud to another, giving you redundancy of data and allowing you to get back to the way the data was on a certain date.

At SynEngin we're partnered with a cloud backup provider, CloudAlly, I'll delve more into cloud backups in the future blog.


To sum up, SaaS products are perfectly suited for small growing businesses who don't have deep pockets for large capital expenditure. If you're looking to implement some new software and want some advice then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us at SynEngin ( Book yourself a free 1 hour consultation here