O365 can make your business more productive - if you let it
One of the drivers of cloud migration is accessibility to cloud business systems like Microsoft Office 365 (O365). The idea of accessing office tools such as Word, Excel and others from anywhere and at any time, and the flexibility to add and remove users as required, is attractive.
However, many businesses already using the MS Office suite historically installed onto their employee laptops simply haven’t yet seen the benefits of moving to the O365 cloud platform.
There are a host of capabilities housed within O365 - beyond the typically used Mail, Word, Excel and PowerPoint - that can deliver far more collaboration, significantly increase productivity and enhance information visibility for businesses who move to the cloud platform.
Stuck in a rut
Companies often find themselves stuck in the rut of only making use of the solutions that they are familiar and comfortable with. Even organisations who migrate to O365 tend to stick to using the same tried and trusted programmes that they previously used on their regular Office suite, not realising that an entire business productivity and collaboration toolset lies at their fingertips, if they only tapped into it and had the courage to experiment with the magic of O365 in its entirety.
A combination of fear of the unknown and a general lack of awareness of the true power of O365 as a productivity suite keeps many organisations stuck in their comfort zones.
The fear stems more from the overabundance of new, unexplained software and updates that many users find themselves inundated with on a daily basis. When users are informed and taught about the possibilities and benefits of a new way of working collaboratively, it’s easier to take new approaches on board and with far more enthusiasm. And then, there’s the added benefit that O365 does not have those tedious, undefined updates all the time as they now happen in the background without impeding productivity.
O365 is not just a productivity suite; it’s a new way of working. When people unlock the possibilities offered by all the additional applications included in O365, they typically find that their entire operations are more productive, more agile and vastly more collaborative.
Mobile agility and seamless interaction across devices are the obvious benefits of O365 and helps organisations to move completely away from the 8am – 5pm rigid style of working, allowing employees to work when and where they are most productive. This mindset of mobility is enabled through the engagement, collaboration and interactive tools across the O365 platform.
Some of the lesser used applications offered by the suite that will undoubtedly enhance a business’ capabilities include:
Power BI - a visualisation rich application for business intelligence that collects data from multiple sources to give dashboard insights for business to make informed - decisions.
Delve - a smart tool that provides a personalised dashboard which displays recent and relevant collaboration on content, allowing for a quick snapshot of current workload, projects and people activity.
Office Lens – A simple tool, yet one which users quickly find indispensable. Office Lens allows mobile users to scan any document or work surface and converts it into a PDF ready document for sharing and embedding.
Sway – a powerful storyboard and content collaboration app which allows for easy content aggregation and enables more dynamic shared presentations.
Stream – a video sharing app that not only enables simple video sharing, but also transcribes audio content to text from videos. Taking minutes in video recorded meetings is a simple as clicking a button, and freeing up people to be more productive
Flow – an easy workflow app that automates tasks quickly and transparently.
Teams – A unified (chat, voice and video) communication and collaboration platform that simultaneously includes other apps, such as OneDrive, SharePoint, Planner, etc. to enable instant, real-time communication and full visibility across the workspace
Microsoft Teams is a key application in O365 that many organisations underutilise. The app provides a virtual workroom for project collaboration, meetings and discussions, sharing and planning. It enables full traceability, document storage and visibility and could potentially replace the bulk of cumbersome email correspondence.
These are but a few of the handy tools that could transform an organisation, removing it from the mire of traditional, slow processes.
Embrace the new way
For businesses to realise the benefits of O365, ‘and other cloud business platforms’, they need to not only have seamless and responsive connectivity to the suite but must also actively drive its use. Intervate’s STICKi user adoption programmes is available to ensure employees are not only informed and trained, but actively enthusiastic to make full use of anything in O365 they are presented with.
The O365 suite will turn the way businesses currently operate entirely on its head. This is a daunting prospect for many organisations, however, the excitement of the opportunity to fast forward should supersede any qualms.
Rather than hesitancy, businesses should embrace the possibilities and find a way to encourage users to leverage these tools.
Craig Mitchelmore is the Head of Intervate North at Intervate, a T-Systems company.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”