Document storage and collaboration

Continuing our series, we are going to look at how to take advantage of SharePoint Online within Office 365 to improve your business. SharePoint is an easily configurable website service that can be used as a secure place to store, organise, share, and access information from almost any device and from any location.

MOVING YOUR BUSINESS INTO THE CLOUD WITH OFFICE 365

Part 4 – Document storage and collaboration

SharePoint sites can be designed to provide quick access to company documentation which is held as online storage within the Office 365 data centre. Documents are setup into logical groups which simplifies your data organisation, making it clear and easy to find what you’re looking for.
With over 1TB of Sharepoint storage included with your Office 365 subscription, this platform quickly becomes an invaluable asset for data management.

Again, we are going to use our invented company DreamBeans, to illustrate how SharePoint might be used. Just as a quick reminder, here’s an overview of DreamBeans:

DreamBeans profile

Description: Coffee sales and distribution

Locations: Midlands distribution centre, South East sales and admin office

Staff: 50 employees – 15 field based sales

Business challenge focus: Document storage and collaboration

DreamBeans’ overall efficiency was greatly improved when they moved to the Office 365 platform but they still had some legacy infrastructure issues to overcome due to dated, on premise equipment and associated slower and inefficient working practices.

Having a large field based service team and a distribution centre in the Midlands provided DreamBeans sales and administration office in the South East with various communication challenges which had previously been addressed using VPNs (a form of internet based connection to join sites and mobile users to data held on servers).

Although this worked, the connection methods provided little flexibility and few collaborative features meaning users were inclined to use their own online storage and sharing tools such as Dropbox and Google Drive, in an unmanaged and insecure way. Having implemented Microsoft Office 365, a host of collaborative tools are now available to DreamBeans and the company chose to move much of their data to SharePoint.

With the introduction of their new SharePoint sites they have been able to cancel Dropbox and Google Drive services that employees had subscribed to. As Office 365 is a GDPR compliant service (see GDPR section for brief explanation), DreamBeans can be happy that their data is now fully compliant with future regulations and that the secure handling of documents both internally and externally is accommodated.

Collaborative working and shared document editing has been a real step forward for the company. Sarah, the Sales & Marketing Adminstrator, has been working on a new marketing plan with Steve, the Sales Director, who is working from home. The ability to jointly work on and edit documents in real time is a feature of Sharepoint and Office 365. As a result, Sarah has been able to view and engage live with changes that have been made to the plan by Steve, whilst discussing the document in real time over Skype for Business. Once completed, Sarah has shared the SharePoint site containing the plan and other supporting content with their external marketing agency, ensuring that everyone is working on and viewing the same version of the documents.

DreamBeans no longer struggle with trying to identify who last worked on a document and what changes they made. SharePoint automatically creates a version history allowing users to easily identify when and who edited a document, plus provide access to a point in time copy of the file, prior to any changes.

SharePoint provides all of the familiar security features that you may have enjoyed with an on-premise file server, allowing for specific read/write privileges and general access. As demonstrated above, SharePoint sites, or specific files within an existing document store, can be shared simply with external contacts whilst retaining control over the data.

Utilising the Office 365 Synchronisation tool, documents held in a SharePoint site can be synchronised with a local computer to allow for offline access and editing when an Internet connection is unavailable. Any changes will be resynchronised to the SharePoint site once back online.

THE RESULTS AND BENEFITS

Access to documents on the go: Wherever they’re working, the DreamBeans team will be able to easily access everything they need via SharePoint on any device and from any location with an Internet connection.

Real-time editing: The DreamBeans team will have the capabilities to work simultaneously from different locations with internal or external collaborators on documents, whether using Excel to scrutinise coffee bean consumption or PowerPoint to build powerful commercial pitches to lock in new clients.

Seamless collaboration: The sales team travelling across the country can continue to work, communicate and collaborate across multiple devices using intuitive instant messaging and conferencing.

Secure: Backed up by Microsoft datacenters, DreamBeans can be confident that their own IT remains secure and safe from downtime.
Easier expansion: DreamBeans can now give staff fast, simple access to familiar tools, documents, email and collaboration from a variety of locations, across multiple devices, supporting the company’s growth plans.

Simpler IT: With a pay-as-you-go model and straightforward deployment, there’s no need to continue investing in servers, simplifying DreamBeans’ IT budget and management.

About Astec
Astec is an IT managed services and support provider and a Gold Microsoft SMB Managed Cloud Partner, one of only 250 in the UK. We work extensively implementing, integrating and supporting Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure and on-premise infrastructure. We have been operating for 25 years delivering a consultative lead approach to IT systems, communications and support. If you would like to explore the cloud opportunity or discuss any aspect of your technology, call one of our experts today on 01424 460721 or visit www.astec.website.

What is GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will require new privacy and data protection regulations on any organisation that offers goods or services to people in the European Union, or that collects and analyses data tied to EU residents – no matter where that organisation is located. The regulation comes into force on 25th May 2018. Broadly, the compliance can be broken down into four key areas of action;

• Identify which personal data you have and where it resides
• Govern how personal data is used and accessed
• Establish security controls to prevent, detect, and respond to vulnerabilities and data breaches
• Keep required documentation and manage data requests and breach notifications
Talk to our Security team to find out more about how this may affect your business.