Resource type: Blog

Enhancing productivity through the online office

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.

For example:

  • Greater flexibility – 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.
  • Increased collaboration – 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.

Integrating key business applications

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. So, for example:

• 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.

Making 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 (in fact some open source solutions such as Libre Office and Apache Open Office are actually free).

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 includes 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.

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 a number of 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.

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.

How Superfast Business Cornwall can help

Superfast Business Cornwall is a service for small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) that aims to boost business competitiveness through increased understanding and exploitation of digital technology.

Our business advisers can assist you in selecting and exploiting the right office productivity solution by drawing on their experience to highlight ways in which such systems can help to address your business requirements.

We also offer a range of workshops and guidance all designed to enable you to exploit the opportunities presented by digital technologies to the full.

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