This white paper from CDW lists the reasons it considers Microsoft Office 365 a good choice for business. CDW is one of the largest suppliers of technology, and I have worked with them for years, so I am giving them credit for highlighting the potential.
From my own experience, this suite of products known as O365 can form the backbone of your procedures, but only you can define and assign those duties. Microsoft isn’t going to discuss the choke-points in your invoicing due to poor equipment allocation or inadequate staff training. For that you need somebody to listen to you and guide your analysis then provide straightforward solutions.
Frankly, if you could solve these problems yourself then they wouldn’t still be on your To Do list. It takes training and experience to break down the actual steps in the real world to achieve reliable results.
My method is to work with the company’s “linchpin”, the one who gets things done. It might be the office manager, it might be a supervisory team, but until we identify (or create) that pivot point we will fail to build the proper foundation.
This pivotal position has not been entirely successful so far; their ability to power through operations is their strong suit but deconstructing processes to find the new foundation going forward isn’t in their tool kit. Much of their technique involves brute force, throwing labor and fury at the stack of tasks that never seem to get done.
We establish a new procedural pivot point, a resource rather than a personality, and we engage all users in establishing best practice actions across the board.
My value-add is the documentation we develop together, encoding the How To tips and tricks that distinguish a thriving enterprise. Don’t think three-ring binder, think Wikipedia: quick, indexed, evolving. The company invests in worker skills and it should capture that co-development in written procedures, inventories, checklists and logs. By doing so, we put the emphasis on results where it belongs.
This work is done down in the weeds: tailoring forms and adjusting databases, how to answer the phone, how to route the mail, how to handle your shredding; who cleans the kitchen, who schedules the conference rooms, how do I get a report on returned items, who can sign Form B-11?
It is a big-picture decision to update technology but the actual work is detailed, specific, and fact-driven.
Conversions and deployments can be disruptive because people’s work habits are on the line. The “coping mechanisms” that workers evolve to do their jobs are deeply ingrained. They have been too busy just getting must-do stuff done to take a step back, and to look ahead.
We bridge this by providing skills-building in your existing environment. Whether or not an upgrade is in your future, it is important to establish a baseline of knowledge necessary to interact with the company’s technology as it is. This means re-training from the basics so we all start with a common vocabulary. Like an info highway driver’s license. Minimum required skill level. From that common core, we then move people forward as needed into their areas of expertise.
People perk up when you show them easier ways to get things done.
By activating the under-used features of what you already own, you can increase productivity and establish reliable operations. You provide a familiar software interface for new behaviors and we clarify our goals. By sharpening your templates, forms, autotext and bookmarks in Word, you produce uniform documents that are consistently branded. By creating working examples of company spreadsheets you can encourage predictable choices in Excel. Set up your watermark logo in the footer of PowerPoint slides once and for all.
O365 is an elegant collection of options and choices, so rich that much of the function is under-used. We build from the basics so when it comes time to add the bells and whistles, we’ve got tech options synched with the workforce. Better yet, we can extrapolate this method to non-Office products like accounting and CRM with a high likelihood of success.