Digital transformation is about utilising modern (often cloud-based) technologies to transform how you execute your business processes. While digital transformation should lead to more effective and efficient processes, organisations should also be using these modern technologies to create new products and delivery models. It is important to note that technology is just the enabler for digital transformation, but the real transformation needs to happen at a process and people level as well.
While many big organisations understand digital transformation, it is the small and medium organisations that risk being left behind as they do not understand how readily available the technology is for digital transformation.
Office 365 is a case in point. It often amazes me how many small and medium size organisations are simply not reaping the value of Microsoft Office 365 – especially in the current COVID-19 remote working environment where team collaboration is more challenging than ever. This is either because they are not Office 365 subscribers, or they are subscribed to Office 365 but do not understand what value Office 365 offers them.
If you are not aware of what Office 365 is, it is Microsoft’s subscription-based collaboration service. This description probably means very little to you so let me explain. Several years ago, each organisation I worked for had its own on-site Microsoft Exchange server infrastructure to power their email, calendar, and contact collaboration capability (typically via Microsoft Outlook). Each one of them was also using Microsoft SharePoint to power their Intranet. In 2017, Microsoft launched Office 365 which provides the same Exchange and SharePoint capability to companies of all sizes, without them needing to invest in and host the servers and services themselves.
For as little as £3.80 per user / per month (Microsoft 365 Business Basic), any organisation can now have the most powerful collaboration platform around. Even better still, if you are a registered NGO, then you may qualify to get Office 365 free (check out https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/nonprofit/office-365-nonprofit?).
For your £3.80 per user / per month, you get Microsoft’s enterprise strength Exchange email, calendar, and contact management capability. You also get Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Teams – two powerful platforms for enabling team collaboration.
Microsoft SharePoint allows you to build a rich, engaging Intranet site to share all your organisations news, events, and documents. You can also create Lists that can be used to build a magnitude of business tools – from simple lists, to more powerful workflow-enabled lists. I have personally built service request systems, CRM systems, employee on-boarding systems, project management tools, and enterprise risk registers on SharePoint Lists.
For your £3.80 per user / per month subscription, you can actually create multiple SharePoint sites, allowing you to have a graphically stunning central one as your Intranet home page (using a SharePoint Collaboration site) and individual sites per department (using SharePoint Team sites). This configuration allows you to have very granular control over who in the organisation can access what information.
Microsoft Teams, which integrates with Microsoft SharePoint, allows business teams to easily collaborate around projects. There are many “tabs” that can be added to a team that extends its capability. I believe that one of the most useful is the Planner tab which provides simple team task management.
If you upgrade your Office 365 to one of the Enterprise subscriptions (starting at £7.50 per user / per month on the F3 plan), you get additional service including Microsoft PowerApps and Microsoft Power BI. I do not have a development background, but I have built some very powerful and visually appealing apps using PowerApps. Power BI is a business analytics solution that lets you visualise your data and share insights across your organization or embed them in your app or website. If you are not on Office 365, or are not maximising the value of Office 365, then give me a shout and I can help you get the most out of this powerful business tool.