We are all competitive creatures. From the inaugural kick of a soccer ball to our pursuit of a higher GPA, we take our thirst to be first right into the workplace. And nobody works harder to be in the winner’s circle than small business owners. You put yourself out there to earn the business, rally employees and keep work flowing better than your competitors in order to improve that P&L. In one respect, small business heroes mostly compete with themselves. The question: “How do we outperform last year?” gets tossed around again and again for one important reason: That’s how companies grow.
Well, Office 365 just might be one of your most overlooked secret weapons.
About half of 3Points’ maintenance clients use the cloud-based software primarily for email (customers under Microsoft’s E3 Plan get the latest version of this popular software suite automatically). The ranks are growing monthly. Funny thing about Office 365 suite, though: The majority of users underutilize its full potential. Office 365 is a complete office suite of tools. Its built-in functionality allows users to accomplish more, oftentimes faster and easier. Here are three little known facts about how Office 365 might help you outperform last year’s numbers:
1. Collaborate Anytime, Anywhere. No, We Really Mean It.
Only 25 percent of 3Points’ clients are taking advantage of Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync), an enterprise-grade communications platform included in Office 365. Hear me out on this one because it’s something that could change the way you do business and save you valuable time.
Skype for Business syncs with my Outlook calendar. This feature is like having an invisible secretary. People trying to reach me immediately know if I’m busy. They then may redirect their questions to someone else or wait until I’m free. (Only 5 percent of users are aware of this particular feature.)
Also, Skype for Business is great for instant collaboration spread out across different locations. Within Outlook, press the button under the appointment tab that says SKYPE MEETING. Then join the link/phone number to join in. We do this all the time at 3Points. Everyone arrives first thing in the morning at our two locations, and connect over coffee and fresh energy for the day (if you’ve used GoToMeeting, you’ll love Skype even more).
We use this application for training and client meetings, too. Recording sessions multiplies Skype’s benefits tenfold as people have the option to remotely watch feeds live or save for later viewing. Isn’t it great that nobody has to miss an important meeting?
At 3Points, we are seeing a major shift from silo work to collaborative work. Using Skype for Business is cool because it creates a more personal experience for people and offers fast resolution via conversation as opposed to the static, and sometimes lengthy, back and forth of email.
2. Putting Everything in One Place Means More People are in the Know
Many of you are familiar with project management software applications like Trello, Basecamp, Wrike, Smartsheet, and others. The beauty with these is that everything is in one spot. Oh, you’re preparing the annual report over the weekend, you say? Access images, a projected sales and revenues chart, and the big CEO interview from the project card marked “Annual Report.” It’s like a big filing cabinet in the cloud for authorized users. SharePoint Online is the same concept. Honestly, it’s a small businessperson’s dream (and one that middle market and large enterprise companies have been living for a long time).
Think of it as the National Archives for your company. SharePoint Online centralizes your policies and procedures, sales decks, security access and framework, internal or external website, your logo and other branded images, Excel online docs, and training docs. At 3Points, we put all our set-up guides on SharePoint Online so our high standards are repeatable by everyone across the company. The different color boxes feed my need for visual cues.
Just this week, I pulled up Excel on my iPhone, entered my weekly metrics in the doc and posted it on SharePoint so everybody could see my progress real-time. SharePoint gives visibility into your company and breaks down barriers and excuses to understanding how and where your company is growing.
Wondering about Dropbox? In some instances, it’s still a great choice. Hate to be noncommittal, but that call is truly situation-dependent. Contact your account manager to inquire about a small SharePoint Online site set-up, and we’ll help you figure it out.
3. Save Money and Space
OK, we promised to help you outperform last year’s numbers and that means impacting your P&L. With OneDrive for Business, another Office 365 feature, every user gets 1 terabyte of space in the cloud. How does this impact the bottom line? Use less storage space on your online backup (which saves you money) and on your server (which saves you space). It’s also easy to use: Just redirect OneDrive for Business and point it to MY DOCUMENTS. Then, pull up all the documents you want. 3Points is currently using OneDrive for Business internally, however there are known syncing issues that Microsoft is aware of and working on resolving so it may not be for everyone right now. If you would like to track the progress of these fixes, see the Office 365 Roadmap link below for more details about what’s been released, what’s coming soon, and what maybe didn’t make the cut.
Has this blog post transformed you into an Office 365 fanatic? You can follow the latest updates at Office 365 Roadmap. Right now, for example, there are 22 “fully-released updates” available to customers and 29 slated for roll out soon. Exciting!
Now, if checking app updates isn’t right up there with following the Hawks or Bears, you’re in luck! 3Points is hosting the Office 365 for Small Businesses webinar on December 9. Short, sweet and to the point, we’ll outline the Office 365 suite and take questions live. Or, go ahead and tap your account manager’s shoulder to get some one-on-one help through onsite visits or the 3Points help desk. As for the latest versions: Mac users will be good to go next July when your 2016 version comes out. For all others, it debuted this Sept.
Mike Magnesen leads the 3Points Operations Team and is a member of Tech Team, a group dedicated to research and development of new technology for small business. Connect with him at
mmagnesen@3Points.com or 708.546.4945.