This post was first published in December 2019, but the information may be useful to businesses affected by COVID-19. Please note that some information may not be up-to-date – you can find our latest COVID-19 guides here.
Please click here for Welsh Government’s latest COVID-19 advice for employers.
Is your business taking advantage of the rich features offered by today’s online office suites, which, when coupled with the improved connectivity of Superfast Broadband, can streamline processes and improve productivity?
The more popular online office productivity suites such as Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s G Suite, typically offer a range of integrated programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations and email. Increasingly other applications such as video conferencing, collaboration software and social media tools are also included to improve communications and enhance the ways in which people work together.
The key strength of the online office is that it is available via the cloud, thereby enabling your business to be truly mobile. And it is this mobility that is central to the potential increases in productivity.
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By making your business mobile, you can benefit from:
As data is stored in the cloud, employees can gain seamless access to information at work, at home and on the road from their tablets and mobile phones as well as laptops.
An online office suite allows multiple individuals to collaborate, review and share all manner of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, diagrams, notes and ideas from any location.
Work seamlessly across key systems
In addition to the benefits offered by automating core office tasks, there is also considerable scope for productivity savings by integrating other key business applications with online office software. This could include:
- Incorporating project management software can help teams to keep track of work and assets and reduce the need for meetings.
- Integrating online accounting software can streamline processes by, for example, importing data from purchase orders or exporting data in a format that can be input into a spreadsheet.
- Integrating CRM with email can enable the CRM application to track incoming emails, providing information about the senders including sales activities, cases and opportunities, whilst also creating new CRM records directly from the email program.
A fifth of Welsh small businesses use CRM systems to outsmart rivals with better customer management, saving time and money, and unlocking further business opportunities. Join them.
Make the right choice
In any discussion about productivity, cost is obviously a key issue. And the good news as far as opting for an online office solution is concerned is that the major offerings from Microsoft, Google and other competitors are extremely cost effective, while there are even free open source alternatives if you don’t want to spend.
The favoured approach is a subscription model, which typically comes in several versions – from a ‘basic’ package providing the core software up to more comprehensive business and enterprise versions. This will include updates and enhancements, meaning that you can budget for costs that are agreed and predictable with little in the way of ‘hidden surprises’.
The fact that there are scalable versions also ‘future-proofs’ your business in terms of being able to increase the number of users and associated storage as your requirements grow.
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Look after your information
Another key consideration is ensuring that your data, which is the lifeblood of your business, is held safely and securely and is easy to access. Encouragingly, a cloud-based office software provider can offer several significant benefits when it comes to storing your data online, not least the fact that from a disaster recovery perspective it is backed-up on external servers and is protected in case of internal hardware failure.
Security is also a major strength of cloud providers, with many now becoming certified via relevant security standards to help ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of your data. It’s worth keeping GDPR in mind to make sure the provider you choose is processing data correctly.
Make the most of the opportunity
And finally, it’s vital that an appropriate level of service availability, support and training is in place for your open office. After all, if the system is unavailable, or you’re not using it effectively, then you’re hardly likely to achieve the hoped-for productivity gains. The best office suites have robust FAQs and tutorials for self-help, online support websites, and more detailed technical support available through email, telephone or live chat. Weigh up the pros and cons of each supplier and see which one is the best fit for your business.
“Switching to the cloud means we can plan projects more effectively and spend less time on admin.” - Discover how Intrado made the most out of digital and grew 300% in 3 years.
What options are there?
If you’re not sure where to start, Superfast Business Wales is here to help. As well as expert advice from our digital business advisers, we run workshops to show what tools are available.
To help you choose from the wide range of tech out there, we have the Software Essentials directory – a complete, impartial guide to a whole host of digital tools that can transform how you work for the better.