Tip of the Week: Selecting the Right Productivity Suite

Smiling female programmer working on computer at night, side view.

The productivity suites now available to businesses have come a long way in a relatively very short time. However, when selecting one, it is still crucial to compare your options based on a few key variables. Let’s go over these variables to make sure that the software suite you’re using is the right one for your needs.

Cost of Productivity Softwares

Naturally, we must first discuss costs, as this is perhaps the most pressing variable for most businesses. While it may be tempting to default to the least-expensive option, take a few moments and dig into the features more closely to check for any benefits that may make a slightly more expensive option the most cost-effective productivity suite.

Compatibility With Your Systems

There are a lot of platforms out there—the classic battle between Macs and PCs, and the corresponding Android versus iOS head-butting. On top of these, there are now cloud platforms to consider as well as you decide on the productivity suite you and your team put to use. Consider the headaches that would ensue if half of your team used laptops running ChromeOS, but your productivity suite was only compatible with Windows. As such, you need to make sure your chosen solution has some availability on all (or at least most) of the major computing platforms.

Mobility

On the subject of platform compatibility, it is usually best to select software that has some kind of mobility functionality. There are two reasons for this—first, mobile devices are now used more often than any other kind. Second, with so many people now functioning remotely, the kind of access that mobile options provide contribute a lot of value to the productivity suite’s platform you’re considering.

Security

This is important for obvious reasons, so you will want to check up on the security that each solution features. Today’s two most popular productivity suites, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace, are delivered through cloud technologies. This was once problematic, as you’re effectively handing your data over to an external provider, but nowadays these cloud platforms are built with security at the forefront.

Communications

With communications and collaboration so critical to businesses—especially now—a productivity suite with integrations enabling such dialogues make it easier for teams to accomplish their shared goals. As a result, many of today’s most prevalent options feature some kind of collaboration baked into them, often including an email platform, video conferencing, and/or VoIP.

We can help your business acquire the IT tools such as productivity suites that are needed for modern success. Give us a call at (954) 474-2204 to learn more.

Why Collaboration is Crucial to a Successful Business

teamwork collaboration

If there’s one buzzword heard more than any other in today’s workplace, I’d be willing to bet it could be “collaboration”… and no wonder. Collaboration serves a very important purpose in today’s operations, which is why establishing the processes that encourage it makes sense for your business’ well-being.

Let’s examine what really makes collaboration, well, collaboration, and how you can encourage such habits in your own business.

Separating Teamwork and Collaboration

First thing’s first, we need to establish that—while closely related—teamwork and collaboration are not the same thing. While there is no collaboration without teamwork, teamwork is possible without technically collaborating.

Consider the bucket brigade. Once upon a time, when a fire broke out, that was the preferred method to extinguish it—passing buckets of water up a line to the flame that needed to be put out. By lining people up to pass the buckets down, the people involved were all collaborating toward the goal of putting out the fire. Now, consider the alternative: everyone running back and forth with their own bucket, waiting for their turn to refill as the fire blazes on.

Teamwork, sure, but nothing collaborative about a frantic free-for-all.

Teamwork is the combined action of a group. Collaboration is the act of combining a team’s resources to accomplish each step of a given action.

Here are a few other ways to tell an example of teamwork, from an example of true collaboration:

  • There’s a tendency for a team to have a set leader to set the course of whatever project is being worked on, while collaboration thrives in an egalitarian group setting.
  • Teamwork can be effective in completing a business’ short-term goals, while long-term goals are better served by collaborative behaviors.
  • As we hinted at, teamwork requires someone to be in control of the group. Collaboration requires the group’s members to trust one another.

The Benefits of Collaboration in Action

Embracing collaboration brings universal advantages that you can enjoy.

Improved Operations

Why have one person working on a problem, when you have a whole team of people who could all think of a solution? With a workplace culture steeped in collaborative habits, problem-solving becomes much easier. Employee engagement also goes up, allowing you to enjoy side effects like increased revenue, greater productivity, fewer mishaps, and less turnover.

Satisfied Employees

Collaboration can also have a marked effect on the experience your employees have in the workplace. In addition to the knowledge-sharing capabilities that collaboration encourages, employee relationships can improve. This isn’t nothing—office friendships have been identified as one of the most important components of employee satisfaction. One survey ranked it as most important to 70 percent of workers. Collaboration also offers the benefit of increased morale, which itself brings better productivity and heighted retention rates.

What You Can Do to Encourage Collaboration

Endorsing collaboration in your office doesn’t need to be too difficult. In fact, there are a few simple methods that have proven very effective.

Bring Your Team Together with a Shared Mission and Expectations

If it weren’t for your team, your company couldn’t be as successful as it is. Make sure that they understand their value to the organization, and how their responsibilities play into those of the larger group. This is made easier with a shared company goal (also known as its mission).

By establishing this mission, you can then set the benchmarks and objectives that your team needs to meet and assign your team members with the appropriate responsibilities to do so.

Enable Innovative Collaboration Through Encouragement

Make sure that, as your team works to implement their newly collaborative processes, you are showing them your enthusiasm for their efforts. This will only encourage them to continue their adoption of them. You should also consider being equally encouraging toward any innovative ideas that your team members may have. Who knows—your team member may have discovered a way to complete a task more productively. If not, you’ll at least have confirmed that the status quo is the better option for you in the moment. Don’t be afraid to encourage input from those with hands-on experience.

Provide Tools for Collaboration

Perhaps obviously, your different employees are going to have different contributions to bring the table. Maybe someone is good at placating an irate caller, while someone else is particularly adept at organizing processes within your management software. Don’t be afraid to give these jobs to these people while giving them more opportunities to work together using your collaborative solutions. With many still working remotely, these tools are crucial to far more organizations than ever before. Give your team access to these tools and make the most of their capabilities.

If you’re in need of collaborative technologies or the strategies to put them in place, reach out to 4 Corner IT, a WheelHouse IT company, at (877) 771-2384. Our team is ready to help.

Keeping Your Inbox Clear

keeping your inbox clear
Keeping Your Inbox Clear

Greek mythology tells of Sisyphus, a Corinthian king who was punished in Hades by being forced to continually roll a giant boulder up a hill. As soon as he would reach the top, the boulder would roll right back down, and his task would start over.

If keeping your e-mail inbox clear feels like a Sisyphean task, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together some tips to help you cope with the challenge and manage your inbox like a pro.

Intentionality

Just like checking your actual physical mailbox, checking your e-mail inbox should be an intentional act that’s accomplished at set times. Barring the rare case of emergency, you should not allow the ding of your e-mail alert to rule your day.

Though the frequency of how often you check and respond to messages will depend on your situation, one thing you should not do is just keep your inbox open on a rolling basis. Instead, intentionally set aside times to read and respond to e-mails.

Prioritization

As you deal with your e-mails, prioritize organization over responses. Allow us to explain why. If your goal is to respond to each e-mail as it comes in, you will quickly feel overwhelmed with the task and due to the enormity of the task, you may lose important messages in the shuffle.

Instead of responding to each e-mail one by one, quickly toggle through all your current messages, organizing them into folders as you go. Only e-mails that require an immediate response should be left in the inbox, to be cleared as soon as you’ve responded. If e-mails do not require an immediate response (that is, if they’re informational or require thought or research on your part first), they should be sent to a different folder. In this way, only your immediate tasks at hand will be left for you to deal with.

Consistency

This program only works, of course, if you make it work. If you set up your times and your folders but then fall quickly back into bad habits, you’ll see no results. Consistency, however, makes a huge difference. Plan your work and work your plan — always.

We Can Help

For more information on best practices for keeping up with e-mail, or if you would like to hear more about our premium services, please feel free to contact us at any time. 

We look forward to serving you. 

A Beginner’s Guide to Office 365

a beginner guide to office 365

Office 365 has evolved and transformed to stay relevant in today’s business world. Yet many businesses still use it exclusively for Microsoft Word and Excel. If you find yourself looking at the other apps and features and wondering what they do, keep reading this guide to Office 365.

Applications

So, we all know about Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. These applications are essential for creating documents, presentations, spreadsheets, and communicating internally and externally.

But we encourage you to take a look at other apps like SharePoint, which we’ll talk about later, as well as Microsoft Teams, a group chat tool.

Cloud Storage

Office 365 makes use of cloud computing to store and secure your files. This makes it easy to retrieve them if something happens to one of your computers.

Cloud storage is great, but migrating to it can be tricky. You need to make sure you can find all of your documents and keep them all safe.

Collaboration 

Some businesses still collaborate by having their employees send email attachments back and forth to each other. This method is slow and confusing. It’s easy to mix up the files and send the wrong one.

Microsoft SharePoint is an Office 365 app dedicated to collaboration and file sharing. With it, your employees can work on the same file, so they don’t have to send anything through email.

The Beginner’s Learning Curve

There’s a lot of information here, and we’ll admit that there’s a beginner’s learning curve. Once you get over it, however, using the applications comes naturally. Just consider getting some outside help so you can get comfortable with the apps and migrate your data over.

To talk more about Office 365, or anything else, contact us today.

Backup for Small Business: Four Important Things to Think About

backup for small business four important things to think about

Sometimes it takes a disastrous cyber attack to remind businesses how important it is to back up data. Backup for small business is always important.

Backup for Small Business

A recent article from Small Business Trends, for example, mentions how ransomware has opened up discussions on the need for backups.

Keep in mind that backups are helpful not only for cyber attacks; they’ll save you from other disasters or problems as well. If a major storm hits your area, causing a power surge or outage that wipes out some of your data, you’ll have backups to retrieve and work off of. If an employee accidentally deletes a critical file, you’ll be able to restore the original.

What should small businesses consider when coming up with a data backup plan?

There are a wide variety of data backup solutions available. Not all of them will work well for your business or your data. When coming up with a data backup plan, consider the following points:

  1. Your main risks. How are you most likely to lose data? What kinds of disasters are you most vulnerable to? Answering these questions helps you choose the best kinds of data backup solutions for your business – file-level vs. image-based, cloud vs. local vs. hybrid solutions.
  2. Your most important data. Consider the data and applications that are critical to your business’s functioning and success. For them, you want the quickest restoration possible to avoid costly downtime and permanent losses. You want to ensure that the backups are comprehensive, timely, and well-protected.
  3. Your most sensitive data. Whatever backup solutions you choose, ensure that you’re safeguarding copies of your data – particularly the most sensitive data – from theft and destruction.
  4. Your metrics for backup success. How will you determine if your backup plan is a success? For example, you can set goals for maximum allowable recovery time or maximum amount of data you can afford to lose; does your backup plan fall within these parameters, or would you experience unsustainable losses? Always make sure to test your data backup measures.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for advice and assistance. Choosing the right backup solutions is critical for your business. When implemented thoughtfully, data backups become your business’s lifesaver, protecting you from the severe effects of IT disasters.