From lawyers and accountants to consultants and technology developers, professional services firms must be able to rely on the technology they use to deliver their expertise and communicate with clients.
Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365, offers a number of these important benefits for professional services firms:
- Enterprise search: Microsoft’s premier search technology is now embedded in Office 365. In its earlier form (FAST) this enterprise search was a standalone, complex product; having it integrated with your productivity tools and content offers a substantial value and advantages in findability and information management.
- Online storage with desktop sync: Many people have become comfortable with using Dropbox for cloud storage and syncing between devices. Office 365 provides similar capabilities within a secure corporate environment. It takes advantage of the way people organize information on their computers while uploading everything OneDrive in Office 365. With automatic backup and sync capabilities, it gives employees a constant data backup and mobile access to their documents.
- Presence awareness: When using Lync, Office 365’s unified communications tool, you’re always able to see where your contacts are and when they’re available.
- Instant messaging: This capability is also built into Lync. The communication tool helps improve responsiveness and wean people away from email [link to: Portal Solutions blog #189], resulting in greater productivity.
- Desktop video conferencing: With options for regular phone calls, video calls, and sharing and reviewing documents in real time, Office 365 makes it easy to get the most from collaborations without having to switch between multiple platforms.
- Internal social networking with group capabilities: As with instant messaging, social networking is helpful in getting employees away from email. Yammer, the social network integrated with Office 365, makes it easy to store conversations in a searchable format and get feedback through quick polls and other features without creating a bunch of threads in email. When you post research and brainstorming there, it remains searchable, rather than getting buried in separate email folders.For professional services firms, Yammer is great for communication within project teams. You set up a group for a certain project and add all of the team members using the discussion threads rather than email to address specific issues and topics. The notification settings give people greater control over the information flow, such as the option to receive a digest email at the end of the day.
- Searchable people profiles: Office 365 is helpful when you need to find certain types of experience and expertise within your firm. You’re able to search the company directory based on what people have worked on, skills and specializations.
- Document-driven workflows: Office 365 includes SharePoint Online, a great tool for content management and document-driven workflows. SharePoint document libraries use metadata tagging to increase findability and track document status, which is helpful in keeping your proposal process moving forward.
- Mobile accessibility: Being able to check your work email on a smartphone isn’t enough anymore. Office 365 now offers native mobile apps for Apple and Android, giving people anywhere, anytime access to their productivity tools and content.
- Video libraries: Video is essential for training, education, professional development activities and corporate communication. In the next few months, Microsoft plans to roll out a YouTube capability within Office 365 that should make it easy to use and integrate video content, which opens a whole new arena for training and education.
With Office 365, it’s easy for a professional services firm to move its business information, documents and IT infrastructure to the cloud. Combining cloud technology with an integrated productivity suite allows you to save money and increase productivity, improving your ability to deliver solutions for your clients.
Learn more about helping your organization leverage Office 365’s capabilities by contacting Portal Solutions.