Document access is key to being a productive organisation. No matter what the location, staff should be able to access company resources and they need to be able to do that on a variety of mobile or static devices.
True, organisations have their own servers, and staff can log in to access data and files in the office. But that’s not the same as being truly mobile and reliable. Then there’s the risk of a virus attack or the office server breaking down. Scheduling backups, virus renewal, maintenance, storage capacity, IT repair fees – taking responsibility for your own servers takes up time and energy.
The answer to this question of convenience and mobility is the cloud, where files are stored online and accessed by anyone with an internet connection and a password.
Office 365 is a Microsoft cloud-based business productivity suite that includes many applications. One of these is file sharing, through SharePoint. SharePoint can store organisational resources, team resources, or individual documents.
Here are a number of reasons you should make the move to Office 365 in 2018.
Programs and data stored in the cloud
One of the biggest gains for mobility with Office 365 is that no one in your team needs to have a program or app stored on their device. This means no cumbersome program downloads, purchasing individual registrations or update installations.
Instead, the tools everyone needs – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – are accessed via the cloud. So if a staff member is on holiday and needs to find a document urgently, they can open their iPad and access the file because OneDrive and Word are right there in the Office 365 cloud.
It’s as if every internet enabled device you pick up has magically got exactly what you need on it.
Safety in the cloud with Office 365
Cloud services, like those Microsoft uses for Office 365, typically store at least three copies of each piece of data in different places. This means all three copies would need to disappear at exactly the same moment to lose that data, which is near impossible.
In addition, the companies that operate cloud services have access to better encryption than any office-based server system could install. It’s like the difference between your home’s security and a bank’s – the big data organisations can afford to do it better.
And if all you and your team needs is an internet connection to access documents from any device, there’s no reason to back up work on a USB drive and carry it around. With cloud-based storage, the internet itself becomes a giant USB drive for your data. Wherever you and your team members are, the data’s there too.
Location and storage
With Microsoft SharePoint on Office 365, you can store, organise, share, and access information from any device with an internet connection. SharePoint takes over the role of the old file server in your office, and adds collaborative functions.
One problem with a server-based file system is that everyone has their own idea of where files should go. Someone might decide to file client documents under surnames, someone else does it by company name, another chooses location.
While you can also use OneDrive for file storage, it lacks the collaborative tools of SharePoint. That might not be an issue if all you want to do is store files securely on the internet.
Office 365 indexes files with a powerful search engine that provides search capability across entire Office 365 suite of products or a targeted lower level search. Finding documents is enhanced by metadata that can be used to filter results.
Versioning and file recovery
Sometimes many people have access to a document or spreadsheet and update it at random intervals. How do you know if you are looking at the latest version? Office 365 comes with document management features such as version control and recycle bin recovery.
Users can update a document without having to worry about overwriting and losing someone else’s update or previous version. The previous version of documents can easily be retrieved and restored.
Document users tend to keep a copy of the document within their area, leaving multiple copies of the same document on the office server. Office 365 can track these so that you always know which version you are using.
Check in and check out with office 365
If you want to make changes to a file on a site and you want to make sure no one else can edit it, you can ‘check out’ the file, as you might check a book out of a library. While you have the file checked out, you can edit it online or offline, then check it back in when you are done.
On the other hand, because everyone can see the same document online, Microsoft 365 makes collaboration easy. If one viewer edits then updates a doc, everyone logged in to Office 365’s program can see that change immediately.
There’s no need to make duplicate versions of the document and disperse them to the team, which leads to confusion.
Working with Microsoft ‘Teams’
Apart from SharePoint, another collaborative application of Office 365 is Teams. When you migrate to Office 365, you can use Teams to form working groups, then stay connected to your teammates with chat, calls and meetings within your team and in private or small group conversations.
Schedule and join online Skype meetings with HD video, VoIP, and dial-in audio conferencing options. Share your files, apps or desktop in online meetings and review the important moments later with transcriptions of recorded content.
Migrate your data in batches
When you migrate files to Office 365’s OneDrive or SharePoint, you can set the number of concurrent migration batches by using SharePoint Online PowerShell or third-party migration tools.
This means batches of files can be sent across to Office 365 as you need them, rather than all at once. Why is this useful? Because if all your organisation’s files are in transit at once, staff will have to wait until the entire process is complete.
By migrating in concurrent batches, the go-ahead can be given to access certain files once they have safely migrated. Meanwhile, staff can access those files still left on the old office server awaiting transfer.
Say goodbye to the server
Which prompts the question: What do you do with that old file server? Well, it’s not needed anymore, so the existing server can be re-purposed or retired. It won’t be long before it’s forgotten and your entire organisation will have adapted to working online with Office 365.
So, make 2018 the year to go online with Office 365. Files are critical to any organisation, and it pays to thoroughly prepare and have a good understanding of your existing content, a fit-for-purpose structure and design on Office 365, a pragmatic migration plan, a training plan, and a good governance plan.
This all might sound a bit too challenging, but not to us! Norbrik has helped many organisations make a smooth transition to Office 365. Speak to us about a complimentary workshop to discuss your situation and how our File Share to Office 365 Migration Package can get you up and running on Office 365.