“Collaboration – the action of working with someone to produce or create something”

Really – what’s the big deal with this collaboration? When I was young, we traded files on a floppy disk (8” then 5-1/4” then 3-1/2” – I’m serious, Google it…) and later had a shared drive on a server. I could make a change then some other time someone else could do the same thing. We were collaborating.

The reality is the world is much more complicated now. We may be in different cities, states or even countries; we may be on different platforms (Mac, Windows, iOS or Android) and we could be working any time day or night. All of this adds up to a very complicated environment in which to share and work together. On the other hand, the world has only marginally adopted applications for documents, spreadsheets and email that are not Microsoft-centered. Our desire to stick with what we know in the business setting (Word, Excel, Outlook) and the rapid adoption of the cloud has pushed solutions like Office 365 to the forefront. Although there are some serious caveats before moving to Office 365 (I’ll deal with that in a later blog…), by and large this is a great solution for the majority of small and medium businesses which combines the applications most of us cut our teeth on as well as a strong cloud component and great scalability.

Back to collaboration – what does it look like today and what makes sense for a business? The growth of online storage of documents (Google drive, SharePoint Online, and others) and file syncing (DropBox, Box, OneDrive, Egnyte, and others) for cross-platform, cloud-friendly sharing of documents has not only made sharing more accessible – it has greatly increased the complexity. Sure – you can share files across multiple platforms and create ways to keep it all in sync and working. However – if you are like me, I want the working together to be simple so the complexity can be dealt with in the subject matter. I only have so much patience – I’d rather figure out a difficult problem and coordinate between teammates than spend time figuring out how to effectively share the same file.
Enter Office 365.

Built into the business-oriented versions of Office 365 are some highly-integrated and intuitive collaboration tools. You can seamlessly integrate tools that have the same functionality as DropBox (OneDrive for Business) with the applications you use every day. The ability to store, sync and share files simply and across all your common platforms exists in this product. You can also share outside your company with business partners and customers. The security is built into the product to control who sees and edits each file and you can easily add, respond to and track comments and status updates on any one version of a document.

These features are available to everyone in your company – but you can create ad-hoc teams of people to work together. You can have your own site, safeguard assets developed by the team and keep team emails and shared documents together. You can even have a project-specific mailbox which only team members can access.

If you really want to collaborate – and you and your business are comfortable with Microsoft Office products – you owe it to your company to explore with collaboration in Office 365 can do for you. Call us today at 866-551-4628 to talk about how we can help!