In my career I have been exposed to a wide range of software solutions for common business challenges with programs like ACT, Maximizer or Goldmine being selected and installed within the network. Other businesses have developed arrays of spreadsheets and/or local database applications to handle these tasks.
Often the complexity, difficulty of use of these solutions has grown faster than functionality while maintenance, development and licensing costs becoming increasingly frustrating.
Looking to the Cloud
With increasing discussion around the benefits of cloud computing, many business owners have begun to look in this direction for ways to increase productivity and reduce costs. The search for ways to replace outdated legacy systems and processes leads to an ever increasing overload of productivity apps and cloud hosted software programs.
A common danger in this process is that products from multiple vendors, some new to the market, begin to find their way into day to day workflow causing information to become separated and siloed, a result that goes against the original goal.
Keep it simple
The solution is to standardize on one extensible platform and grow from there. One direction is to move to Google Apps for Business. The problem here is that it tends to be unfamiliar territory for staff that have traditionally used Microsoft Office, Outlook and Exchange for day to day tasks. So why complicate things – stay with the familiar by building on Office 365.
In addition to full integration with the desktop programs you are already familiar with, productivity and mobility are greatly improved with Web app versions of these familiar programs. Additionally new tools like Lync messaging will allow your team keep in touch in real time saving time by eliminating phone calls or walks across the office for simple questions. Imagine a secure, centralized Web portal that is easily by existing staff through which commonly used forms and documents like HR documents or staff newsletters or even time tracking forms.
What about those apps?
What many people don’t know is that Office 365 has an app store. Picture the iTunes or Android app store, with dozens of applications that fully integrate into your SharePoint portal, work with your existing data and allow you to develop a feature-rich fully integrated solution that will not only allow for improved productivity but can scale and grow with your business as well.