Office 365 alternatives for clients

I am building a website for a care home and they want to add around 50 email addresses for staff, which I would rather not host on my reseller server. I immediately suggested Office 365, however they are now saying this would be too expensive.

They need email for all their employees, but also calendar integration for staff. On top of that a smaller number will need full Office style suite like word processing and spreadsheets.

Zoho appears to be a cheaper alternative but I’ve never used it, so I wondered if anybody here has any experience with them or knows of anything better?

Does the home operate as a non profit trust? They may qualify for a discounted office365.

Yes they do and they applied for the discount but were informed this does not apply to care homes or anything related to healthcare.

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Hi @Flashman - try google business suite. I used this and it’s been brilliant. So many huge organisations are using it and its pretty cheap. Not sure how much office 365 package is - but googles might be worth a go.

Business like Morrisons, Jaguar, Deliveroo and thousands of others.
They also have use of the business suites and chat integration and unlimited storage!

Over the years when we worked with a company on an event, they would invite me in to their planning and it would 90% of the time be googles.

I used to do a lot of conference work for the NHS and they did a lot of their work via google - spreadsheets, work agendas, calendar is solid and they have vault which backs up everything ! even if they delete it. The Google drive is unlimited too !!! i have around 8TB in mine !!!

I would not use anything else - and i have used 365 for this kind of work, and office 365 comes no where close to Googles.

I also think its really cheap too !!! less than £10 per month per user.

oh and the main good thing is - support is instant and lighting fast!!!

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£10 a month per user and 50 staff = £6K a year…

I personally think its still pretty cheap for a business of that size who require 50 staff to have full access to business suite and huge email. £6k a year for that size is an amazing cost. My friend has just 8 staff and pays £24k a year! - he is moving after his contract is up…but this has stock integration too.

Looking at that price list - most can go on the £4.14 a month and the ones who need the extras can go on the £8.28 a month price plan. Security in a care home should be pretty huge too - so this covers all bases.

If all 50 do not need independent emails - and they want to save more, maybe have 1 email for some sections like : catering can have 1 email address, waste disposal 1 email address etc.

They basically all need mail, though most of it will be internal. They’ll also need some sort of calendar set up. Zoho does that for 80p a month per user with their lite plan for up to 5 gigs of mail. 10 gigs is £1.

Only a handful will need word processing, spreadsheets and the rest. That is £2.40 per user. If you are running a business turning over millions higher costs may seem inconsequential, however this is a small non profit charity.

In theory I could set them up on some hosting plan with unlimited everything for £5 a month and leave them to set up their own email accounts. I doubt that will be a good option for them though, because the guy running this would be running backwards and forwards acting as IT support for every staff member.

I also dislike creating email mail on my hosting server. I tried this for a while but it can become a real hassle. I had clients that did not manage their emails and attachments and they were getting errors for running out of space. With 50 emails it could be a nightmare. I’ve convinced my clients that a better way is to just forward emails to regular email addresses. For groups, I just created one email and forward it also. Let the big boys handle the servers.

Google does have some tools, if they need 365 it’s really not your problem as the designer if they can’t afford the cost. Just give them the options and let them decide.


Hello @Flashman install Nextcloud Hub, and they have all calendars they want, tasks, they can add their emails inside Nextcloud, just let them add a domain, 8€ a month with unlimited emails, unlimited subdomains, and about 250 or 500 Gb hosting. Inside Nextcloud you can have Colabora Office. Have a look… probably is something you can implement… And they even have documents shares, chat, video chat, etc, etc, etc…

Most clients just have one or two email addresses and it’s not a problem once they are set up. Last year I was caught out by one client that came to me for a small budget priced website and I quoted a standard price for web hosting including email.

A few months later he came back with a business partner and 9 shiny new “non executive directors”, who were actually unpaid interns under the mistaken impression they were auditioning for The Apprentice. Very happily they are no longer clients, but for the time they remained it was a nightmare with the endless support requests, which they expected to be free.

I don’t think for a moment this new client would be like that, but when they come to you on day one saying they will need 50 accounts it has to go through something else like Office or Zoho.

@casey1823 also makes a good point about it not being our problem if they have budget problems for third party services, though you do tend to be dragged into these things if you work in rural areas or markets where they are counting every penny.

@Pealco Thank you I’ll take a look at that. I had heard about it before but never studied it in detail.

You can use Libre Office which has a word, spreadsheet, presentation component. It does not have a email client, for that you can use Thunderbird. I believe both are still free. They are available for Windows, Mac & Linux.

With nextcloud I always ran into some problems when selfhosting. Maybe it’s my fault but I would not want to bear this great responsibility.
But if you use a hosted version, that would certainly be conceivable. I have had very good experiences with the following provider:

Hello @wolfganghofer is a nice share, thank you. I have about 30 installations with Nextcloud in my clients, with the hosting providers, if they have CPanel and Softaculous, the installation, backup and updates are easy easy…
Every time there is an update, I receive an email from CPanel informing about the update, and it works very well the Softaculous update installations feature.
But for some hosting that you don’t have SSH access (fast solving problems commands for Nextcloud) inside Nextcloud there is an app called occ web is a terminal inside Nextcloud to run occ commands.
I have good experiences and nice integrations with Nextcloud.

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My view is for a care home that full security on emails, business software needs to be massively secure and instant traceability with full instant back up of everything and this with 365 & google is automatically done, and the user can jump on any computer and they are in. I would not be comfortable with smaller web companies offering the trimmed down versions of office products, and in a world of online meetings - 365 will have full ‘teams’ in place which is massively used.

If the worker has to self isolate at home - 365 and google, they just log in and whole of there office is at home. Maybe this is the same with the other platforms offered, but I would be unsure.

This also needs to be future proof in my opinion. I would as @casey1823 has said offer them the top packages for 365 or google who are top if their game. As a great web designer as you are @flashman I would not want the burden of this over my head as you will end up being the one who will be acting as support all the time. That’s why I love Google’s business package - 1 click and support is either online or call then free.

I would offer them your website services, and then links to the top 2 and let them choose.

To be fair you did the best thing by showing them 365, that’s as standard as searching online with google!

Good kick though - sounds like a nice project.

I second LibreOffice. The apps are really good quality. If you want to help send them a donation. Most asked feature is an Outlook/Email alternative. So I figure it will come soon.

interesting i work in the NHS and have done for 25 years… All storage/cloud/backup including google drive has been blocked in all trusts i have worked in.

Not sure what the main NHS staff use for their hospital work etc - but for the work I have done with them as the main end client with a collaboration of around 15 companies on the event and the main event manager chose google as its platform to collaborate us all for the event. Have used it with them now for around 5 years i think. Last 3 years the extra features have been brilliant.

All the event teams, exhibition teams, technical managers including myself all used google - its so easy to move into microsofts files too if need be, but we never did…well i didn’t anyway.
There was around 25 of us that all was using it in the group that didn’t work for the NHS.

I recommend it for things like this - it works great.