Utilisation of Collaborative Tools
Any business with more than one member of staff is reliant on collaboration to serve customers – that’s the whole point of building a team. But changes to workplace norms, like flex time and remote working, have made it harder for teams to work together – unless they deploy collaborative tools.
Collaboration technologies like Microsoft Office 365 help to bridge geographical and organisational barriers in a number of ways. Here’s five things adopters are doing with these tools.
1. Real-time document collaboration
The ability to work together on a document or spreadsheet is hugely underrated. But being able to update the same central document simultaneously prevents the usual round-the-houses email trail that creates a multitude of different versions that someone must eventually collate and condense into a final working copy. One report suggests that your employees spend an average of 12 hours every month consolidating, modifying and correcting spreadsheets. That’s a significant waste of time and resources.
To counter this problem, businesses are taking advantage of the real-time collaboration features of Office 365. The latest figures from Navisite found that 78% of collaborative technology users “strongly agree” that they’ve seen improved work efficiency and productivity increases, and 59% are taking advantage of these “co-authoring” features to speed up work.
2. Always-on file sharing
Access to data – including basic documents – has a direct bearing on productivity. Historically this required businesses to make their file servers available remotely, using a VPN or similar technology to secure the connection.
Every Office 365 subscription includes a Cloud storage allocation, allowing users to store documents online. These files can be accessed any place, any time, from any device – without the need for complex VPN and firewall reconfiguration. The files are fully encrypted at rest, and in transit too, making it extremely difficult for cybercriminals to steal them.
3. Reducing barriers to business
The modern business needs to be agile to adapt to rapid changes in the marketplace – unfortunately traditional departmental structures slow everything down. Collaboration tools can help to break those barriers by allowing individuals to connect with each other to create multi-skill teams that can rapidly address customer needs.
By consolidating and centralising data, and using unified communications tools, it becomes possible for anyone to collaborate with anyone else in your business – which means that you are better equipped to meet strategic challenges in future.
4. Improved communications
Sharing data across the business is one thing – but sharing knowledge and experience is just as important. Organisations using collaboration tools have found a way to make this sharing process easier with unified communications technology. Navisite research found that 87% of IT decision makers agree that collaboration is important to accessing different teams and skill sets within their organisation.
Unified communications provide a range of channels – phone, email, instant messaging and video calling – in a central location. Your employees can then reach out to each other – and respond – with whichever channel is most appropriate for their current time and place. Everyone is available – and reachable – allowing you to respond to customer queries more quickly and effectively.
5. Centralised project management
Just because files are centrally located, and everyone can contact everyone else, doesn’t mean that projects are suddenly (magically) easier to run – or any more objective. But those businesses adopting collaboration tools do have options.
Within Microsoft Office 365 they have access to Excel and Planner for instance, as well as Teams, SharePoint and Project (subject to selected add ons). These tools are used to centralise tasks, and to track progress, allowing all stakeholders to define workloads – for themselves and for other team members. And as milestones are reached, they can notify stakeholders of their progress, keeping the project moving forwards. This all helps businesses to make the most of collaboration in a hyper-connected world.
Collaboration will change the way you do business
The fact is that over two-thirds of businesses have already invested in collaboration technology – and the vast majority are seeing significant productivity benefits and ROI. This means that one-third of organisations are missing out on those benefits – and potentially losing market share as a result.
Given the choice of raising productivity and profitability or doing nothing, it’s easy to see why your competitors are using collaboration technologies.