Marketing - Aug 1, 2017

How cloud-based productivity suites can keep you organized

Collaboration features make it simpler to get teams, partners and customers working on the same page

Most entrepreneurs use email and an electronic calendar to stay organized. But cloud-based productivity suites like G Suite and Office 365 give SMB owners a lot more ways to map out their plans and stay in touch with customers, suppliers and partners.

Here are four ways online productivity suites can help you build out a digital strategy that will let you make better use of your time:

1. Create a central repository of all your information – Cloud-based productivity suites let you save your documents, data and presentations in one central location, accessible from any device and any place. You don’t need to worry about having a document saved on your home computer that you suddenly need for an important meeting. If you save the document to the cloud, you can get it as long as you have an Internet connection. Having a central repository also means you won’t have multiple versions of the same presentation or spreadsheet. You and your team members can work on the same file and each make your own changes, ensuring you’ll always be working on the most recent version.

“The cloud is great because it’s with you wherever you go,” said Ash Chaudhury, a senior product marketing manager with Microsoft. “It’s a single version of the truth, as opposed to having seven or eight different versions of edits.”

2. Videoconferencing for team or client meetings – If you can’t fit all your meetings into a busy schedule, you can organize a videoconference through your productivity suite. Both G Suite and Office 365 have videoconferencing capabilities and allow you to share your screen with other participants, enhancing collaboration. You can reach people no matter where they are, saving you travel time.

“The strength in using a productivity suite is the interconnectedness of the experience,” Chaudhury said. For example, someone setting up a Skype conference would start in Outlook, find the names of the people they want to invite to the conference in Active Directory, and then set up a Skype meeting, which automatically populates a dial code and link in an invitation to all participants. Someone not using an integrated suite would need to copy and paste the dial codes. “It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a few extra clicks,” Chaudhury noted. “When you add those clicks up over the course of a day, the benefits of a productivity suite become more apparent.”

3. Use artificial intelligence (AI) to help with presentations – AI isn’t a feature most people associate with productivity suites, but both Office 365 and G Suite boast AI features. For example, if you need to create a presentation, you don’t have to pull all the content together, plan out the slides and organize everything yourself. Both suites will make suggestions and recommendations about templates, content and placement, significantly reducing the time and effort it takes to craft a professional-looking presentation for customers, partners or internal teams.

4. Build a central team calendar – You can create a calendar that’s shared across your team and lets members enter vacations, internal meetings, client meetings and events. This way, everyone can see what’s coming up and create new events that fit with other people’s schedules.