Why cloud-based software boosts company productivity

Make sure that your IT infrastructure helps your company thrive - not hold it back

Every company wants to boost its productivity, and according to the UK Chancellor, the whole country needs to do the same. “It takes a German worker four days to produce what we make in five,” he noted in his 2016 autumn statement.

There are a bewildering number of suggestions about how to boost productivity, but moving to an integrated, secure, cloud-based office suite delivers unique tools that can make a big difference. Here are three highly practical examples intrinsically linked to your choice of productivity software:

Work smarter and collaborate

“80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts,” goes the Pareto Principle, named after a famous Italian economist. In other words it's not so much about you and your people working harder, but working smarter.

A key way to achieve this productivity boost is through collaboration. Even small to medium sized companies now tend to employ a diverse mix of office-based workers, mobile staff as well as consultants/freelancers, and the collaborative tools intrinsically designed into modern cloud-based productivity suites, such as Office 365, really help to focus their efforts, wherever they are.

Let's imagine you have multiple salespeople working in different places, but they need to collaborate urgently on a Word file or PowerPoint presentation, for example. Office Online makes it easy for them to work simultaneously on the same file on the desktop. One worker sends an invite to their colleagues, who are automatically notified by email.

This 'real time co-authoring' means everyone can see who is making changes to the document and when, to avoid any confusion. Another option is to collaborate via Skype for Business, ideal for making and receiving audio/video calls or swapping instant message updates. All your salespeople need is access to a web browser. The benefits are clear. All the time and effort they would expend trying to connect with colleagues via email, texts or voice calls can be focussed on where it's really needed – the presentation.

Other quick-fire collaboration boosters in Office 365 include the ability to invite people (in or outside your organisation) to view essential files stored on your OneDrive cloud account. This means there's no more emailing of documents backwards and forwards, or confusion over which is the latest version. Then there's the Yammer social network for business, which enables staff, wherever they are, to work together and share files in groups, organised by client name, project or topic. Pareto would surely approve.

Multi-device support

So if easier collaboration boosts your team's productivity, one sure-fire way to reduce it is to get bogged down in problems trying to open documents on different devices – or finding that a colleague can't access a key feature of a spreadsheet, for instance, as they have an older version.

With Office 365, all registered users can access the latest, most powerful versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more on a wide range of devices. And as they are regularly updated to the latest version online, you get access to the newest features without lengthy downloads or security risks getting in the way of your flow. This means all your key staff can make use of the very latest tools, and they don’t waste time dealing with file compatibility issues through saving documents into less-functional text files or PDFs.

You can further boost your productivity on the go or when working from home by setting up popular Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote on your smartphone or tablet, ensuring easy access to work documents and quick collaboration. Windows Phone, Android, iOS are all supported and it's also possible to set up Office apps on Blackberry or Nokia Symbian OS.

And even if you or your staff suddenly lose an Internet connection, it's easy to save documents stored on your OneDrive cloud storage to your hard drive, so you can access them offline. When you go back online, any documents you edited while offline are automatically upload back to OneDrive.

Security matters
Your IT staff are hardworking and highly skilled, and their time is precious. It's far better they spend it helping users, maintaining infrastructure or working on your website, than having to worry about everyday security issues.

Office 365 uses the bulletproof Azure Active Directory (AAD) to manage users and to provide authentication, identity management and access control, freeing up your IT staff from worrying about who is accessing work documents, and how. Coupled with this is Microsoft’s EMS (Enterprise Mobility + Security) which can also be utilised alongside Office 365 to provide even tighter security. EMS calculates risk severity for every user and sign-in attempt, protecting your data against user mistakes, and detecting attacks before they cause damage.

On top of this Office 365 customer data is stored in regional Microsoft datacentres that are protected by layers of in-depth security. All of these powerful resources free you up from worrying about security headaches affecting you or your clients so everyone can focus on being more productive.

A small monthly investment gives you full access to Office 365. Backed up by expert support from ComputerWorld, it can make a big difference to your company’s productivity.