Plan your setup of Microsoft 365 for business

Check out Microsoft 365 small business help on YouTube.

This article is for people who have subscribed to a Microsoft 365 for business plan.

Before moving your organization to Microsoft 365, there are requirements you need to meet, info you need to have on hand, and decisions you have to make.

Choosing the right business subscription

When signing up for Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft Apps for Business or the trial versions, you have 2 options for how to get started. Evaluate three key factors to choose which best meets your needs:

  • Which apps and services do you want to use straight away?

  • How much technical skill do you have?

  • Do you need Microsoft to act as a processor for your data?

The table below outlines each choice.

  Option 1 – Sign in with Outlook, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail or other email account Option 2 – Add a business domain and create a new business email account
Available apps and services Use Word for the web, Excel for the web, PowerPoint for the web, Teams for the web and Access for the web. OneDrive and SharePoint desktop app are included. This set of apps is best for very small businesses who don't need branded email immediately, or who already use branded email from a different provider and do not intend to switch to use Microsoft Exchange. You'll use Outlook with your existing email account (be it outlook.com, Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail or other). Use Word for the web, Excel for the web, PowerPoint for the web, Teams for the web and Access for the web. OneDrive and SharePoint desktop app are included. Microsoft 365 Business Basic with Option 2 also lets you access a wide range of additional services: New, branded business email accounts with Outlook, shared calendars within your business, Bookings appointment scheduling and Meeting recordings. Shared document storage and SharePoint sites, Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Lists, Microsoft 365 Business Basic and Microsoft 365 Apps for business offer additional services with Option 2. Easier document sharing within your business, support for the compliance needs for your industry, Access and control over your employees' use of services and the widest range of integrations of non-Microsoft apps (e.g. Salesforce, Adobe) that work within Teams and Office.
Required knowledge Let's you get started without technical know-how. Requires you to buy a domain, or to own a domain. You may need technical knowledge to prove ownership of the domain.
Data handling Available under the Supplement to the Microsoft Services Agreement and is best for businesses that want some remote work and collaboration tools and are comfortable with Microsoft acting as controller for your data under the Microsoft Privacy Statement. Subscribers to services using this option will not have access to an individual's user content or data until a domain is attached. Subscribers should evaluate data ownership and intellectual property rights considerations based on their needs. For example, if you are working collaboratively with other users on a document stored in their account, they may choose to make those documents inaccessible to you. As such, you should evaluate data ownership and intellectual property rights considerations accordingly. Separately, users may choose not to transfer documents in their Simplified Sign-Up account to your Domain Account subscription, even after you invite them to do so. This means their documents may also not be accessible to you even if you add a domain account later Available under the Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement and is best for businesses that need Microsoft to act as a processor for their data under Microsoft's Data Protection Addendum and need our full suite of remote work and collaboration tools. Subscribers who are in regulated industries or seek more control, both over the use of the services by your employees and over processing of related data by Microsoft, should choose Option 2 and attach a domain and sign up under the Domain Account enterprise-level agreement.

Use these three factors to determine which of the two options is best for your business needs. For more info see:

Overview of Microsoft 365 for business setup

Check out this video and others on our YouTube channel.

Congratulations on your decision to move your business to the cloud with Microsoft 365! Whether you have one person in your business or 20, doing a little planning will help you get the most out of Microsoft 365 for business.

Info to have on hand before you run the setup wizard

When you're ready to run the setup wizard and move your domain to Microsoft 365, here's the info you'll need to have on hand:

  • List of people you want to add to Microsoft 365. Even if you've already added them to Microsoft 365, if you're updating your domain information, you need to enter their names here.

  • How you're going to notify your employees of their user ID and password so they can sign in. Are you going to call them with the info? Or send it to their personal email address? They won't have access to their email, so you can't use that.

  • If you have a domain name for your organization (such as contoso.com) and you plan on using Microsoft email, you'll need to know where your domain is registered and have sign-in information.

What happens when you run the Microsoft 365 setup wizard

The setup wizard walks you through installing the Microsoft 365 apps on your computer, adding and verifying your domain, adding users and assigning licenses to them, and connecting your domain.

Note

If you need to Assign admin roles in Microsoft 365 for business to the users you add in the wizard, you can do that later on the Users page.

If you don't complete the setup wizard, you can complete setup tasks at any time from admin center > Setup. From here you can migrate email and contacts from another email service, change the domain of your admin account, manage your billing information, add or remove users, reset passwords, and do other business functions. For more information about the differences between the setup wizard and the Setup page, see Differences between the Microsoft 365 setup wizard and the Setup page.

If you get stuck at any point, call us. We're here to help!.

When not to use the setup wizard: Active Directory synchronization and hybrid environments

There are a couple of scenarios that include either migrating data or users from on-premises environments or setting up a hybrid system that includes directory synchronization. If you're in either category, follow the instructions in these articles:

Move to Microsoft 365 all at once or in stages

  • Do you want to move your organization to Microsoft 365 all at once? If so, then plan to move your domain to Microsoft 365 right away. Start by running the Microsoft 365 setup wizard; it will prompt you to set up your domain.

  • Do you want to move to Microsoft 365 gradually? If you want to move to Microsoft 365 in stages, then skip running the Microsoft 365 setup wizard and consider adopting Microsoft 365 features in the following order:

    1. Add your employees to Microsoft 365 so they can download and install the Office apps.

    2. Download and install the Office apps to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on your computer and devices.

    3. Set up Microsoft Teams to use for your meetings.

    4. Move your content to Microsoft 365 cloud storage (OneDrive or SharePoint team sites).

    5. When you're ready, in the admin center, select Setup in the left navigation pane, and use the Setup page to move your domain and email.

Check that your devices meet system requirements

Each person in your organization can install the Office 2016 suite of apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so on) on up to five PCs and Macs. See the operating system and computer requirements for installing Office 2016 suites for business.

Mobile apps can be installed on iOS, Android, and Windows devices. You can find information on mobile device and browser support in System requirements for Office.

Plan for email

If you're planning to move from an existing email service to Microsoft 365, it usually takes two days to make the switch.

Plan for email downtime

If you're going to use Microsoft 365 for your email:

  • To move your business email address (such as rob@contoso.com) from another email service to Microsoft 365, you need to direct your mail to be delivered to your new Microsoft 365 mailbox. You do this by selecting Migrate your users' data on the Setup page, where we guide you through the updates you need to make at your domain host, step by step.

  • After you update your domain host, the changes typically take effect in just an hour or two. But be aware that it can sometimes take up to 72 hours for the changes to update across the internet.

  • Because you might have email downtime, we recommend you plan to switch to Microsoft email during an evening or weekend when you receive fewer emails.

Plan to move your existing email, contacts, and calendar

If you're going to use Microsoft 365 for your email account, you can bring your existing email, contacts, and calendar with you. The Setup page helps you move your existing email and contacts for most scenarios. We also have step-by-step guides to move one or many mailboxes.

How many mailboxes? Recommendation
Just a few
If you don't want to use the Setup page to migrate the mailboxes, you can let mailbox owners migrate their own email and contacts. See Migrate email and contacts to Microsoft 365 for business.
Several
If you're migrating from Gmail, see Migrate G Suite mailboxes to Microsoft 365.
If you're migrating from another email provider, including Exchange, see Ways to migrate multiple email accounts to Microsoft 365.

Plan for file storage and migration

Microsoft 365 provides cloud storage for individuals, small organizations, and enterprises. For guidance about what to store where, see Where you can store documents in Microsoft 365.

Plan for Teams

You can use Microsoft Teams to make calls to other people in your organization who are on your subscription. For example, if your organization has 10 people, you can call and IM each other using Teams without any special setup. For more information, see Get started with Microsoft Teams.

For larger organizations or if you're starting from Skype for Business, on-premises, or hybrid deployments, see How to roll out Microsoft Teams.

Plan for integration with Active Directory or other software

  • Do you want to integrate with your on-premises Active Directory? You can integrate your on-premises Active Directory with Microsoft 365 by using Azure Active Directory Connect. For instructions, see Set up directory synchronization for Microsoft 365.

  • Do you want to integrate Microsoft 365 with software made by other companies? If you need to integrate Microsoft 365 with other software in your organization, we recommend you consider hiring a partner to help you with your deployment.

Do you want someone to help you set up Microsoft 365?

  • If you have fewer than 50 employees:

    • Ask for help and we'll call you. After you buy Microsoft 365, you can access the admin center (you don't need to run setup to get to it). At the bottom of the admin center, select Need help? Describe your problem, and we'll call you.
    • Call Microsoft 365 for Business Support with your questions. We're here to help!
    • Consider hiring a Microsoft partner. If you're short on time, or have advanced requirements (like moving thousands of files to Microsoft 365 cloud storage or integrating with other software), an experienced partner can be a big help.
  • If you have more than 50 employees, the FastTrack Onboarding Center is available to help you with your deployment.

See also

Best practices for securing Microsoft 365 for business plans