Getting more ROI from Office 365

The good news?

Microsoft already offers one of the most compelling cloud office on the market and they haven’t stopped adding new features and functionalities. In fact, there are so many updates that it’s a good idea for their larger companies to dedicate a resource just to discover if these new releases are beneficial to their operations.

For instance, if you take a closer look into the area of team collaboration, you would have discovered that they already introduced many different tools/components such as SharePoint, Yammer, Office 365 groups and more recently Teams. Which of them will work for you? What are the differences? Their advantages and/or limitations?

But customers being customers, they will ask “why don’t Microsoft simply tell us?”. And Microsoft being Microsoft, will answer “Its already bundled for the same price, perhaps you should learn yourself or engage our partners…”. And that’s probably the biggest differentiation for Microsoft, because their huge pool of partners (394,000 worldwide) will likely help you to find one that will work well for your organization.

The bad news?

Too many choices presents its own sets of problems. The cloud is supposed to take away the tedium of “keeping the lights on” so that your IT resources can spend more time on the more important task of “empowering business”. But the dizzying range of offerings makes many well intent IT resources hiding away in their corner because they do not want to seemed uninformed or worst yet, ignorant! In fact, they are many of them that prefer the “good old days”. Days when planning and patching SP2 meant another upgrade cycle to look forward to next spring. Empowering people to use technology can get messy sometimes…

The opportunity?

You and your organization have already been working with Office 365 for the past two decades. And their are far too many features and upgrades that you have not utilized to its fullest in your organization. And as more millennial start taking on management roles, you have a new opportunity to leverage on the “freshness” and “eagerness” of youth to change the way people works together. As PC gives way to notebooks, tablets and mobile devices, so should the way information are compiled, used and shared in your company. One person working on a document at a time is so 1990’s !

I truly appreciates how forward looking and receptive Webparts360 clients are. They are so willing to change and adapt to new way of looking at old problems. They are happy to work and store documents on documents repository that supports co-authoring with real time screen updates.Happy to discard the Excel spreadsheets in favor of cloud databases with process automation that remind you when things are due. Happy to replace paper forms with auto generated Word documents that you can sign with a stylus or your finger. Happy to control the operations of their outbound team using web control panels that triggers email notifications to customers and send mobile alerts to field service teams who relay photos into cloud repositories.

The infrastructure for a single view of work is already here.

Good IT leaders takes up the opportunity to move in your data and processes into the cloud, and glue them to various productivity tool so that there’s no discontinuity between emails, calendars, tasks, documents and communications. The main idea is to provide an orchestrated flow between information and processes so that when tasks are completed, so are the reports and analysis.

Real life example.

One of our clients who sells high end testing equipment and maintains them got us to help them to adopt cloud technology so that they improve the way they work. Previously, after an intense day of manual coordination, the service manager will pore over their emails and paper documents to create their service reports in Excel . While it worked, these administrative chore became a burden that few cherished.

Today, the new system extracts every new item sold from their accounting system into a master equipment sold database on Office365, together with its maintenance schedule. These data are analyzed and presented as a preventive maintenance schedule that helps the service coordinator to notify their customer to arrange for an appointment with their service team. Once confirmed, an appointment is created into the field engineer schedule. The system will also notify the logistic team to arrange all the parts that will be used for these jobs. The engineer sees their daily assignment on a mobile app which allow them to “check-in” once they arrive at the customer’s premise so that their manager knows who’s doing what.

They take photographs to capture the conditions of the equipment and uses a checklist to record the tasks that they performed. Upon completion, a single click compiles the diagnostic and work done into a Word report which the customer can “sign” on the engineer’s mobile device which gets emailed to the customer instantly.

At the end of the day, the engineer returns to their office and enjoy some cold beer together with their manager because all the “paper work” and reporting are already done. Morale is high and customers are willingly signing up maintenance contracts.

And their IT team have never done a single backup or patch their servers. Why? Because there are none! Everything is running on Microsoft’s Azure as a PaaS where all the back-end administrative tasks are performed flawlessly to the high compliance standards of a world class enterprise -Microsoft’s !

Quite a change for a 10 persons outfit, eh? This is what the cloud does best – making it possible for small businesses to complete effectively against large enterprise.

The choice?

Cloud offers a new opportunity for small and large businesses to relook at how they use computing technology to connect, coordinate and control their team so that they are more efficient and effective. Some will choose to stick their old ways and struggle… while leaders will adopt new ways and soar. What’s yours?

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