For many small businesses, time is one of the most valuable resources they possess - and often one of the scarcest. With limited numbers of staff available to manage essential operations and budgets still stretched thin, it can often feel as though there simply aren't enough hours in the day.
Therefore, anything businesses can do to make their staff more productive can have a huge impact on their overall performance. And while there are many opinions and thoughts on how to measure productivity, one widely agreed on factor is that poorly performing technology can be a big hindrance to end-users.
This can come in many forms, whether it is outdated hardware that struggles to run the latest applications smoothly, or complex pieces of software that require lengthy training in order for people to gain the full benefits.
However, there are now tools available to prevent these issues and give people the tools they need to work more efficiently. Many of these, such as Microsoft Office 365, take advantage of cloud computing technology to deliver advanced solutions to end-users quickly and reliably.
As well as being cheap and fast to deploy, these tools can greatly improve a workforce's productivity. Below are some of the key ways in which the right software can help save your staff time and make your business more efficient.
Use tools where and when you want
One of the major benefits of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools such as Office 365 is the ability to allow users to access and modify documents wherever they are. So if, for example, a user is meeting a potential customer and needs to check the latest details, they can bring up an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document on their mobile device, removing any need to contact colleagues or get back to a client later.
However, these are not the only considerations. The best solutions will provide much more than just voice or video communications. For instance, some people may, however, worry that these solutions will require a constant internet connection in order to work on files, which may not always be available when they are on the move. However, with options like Office 365, users are still able to run the included applications offline, so they will always be able to get work done.
Share your work
Being able to easily share and collaborate is also made much easier with cloud-based tools. With a single version of a file stored securely in the cloud, anybody with the correct permissions can log in and add to or amend documents.
This can save a huge amount of time compared with legacy solutions, which may typically involve a file being passed from one person to another via email, before changes are made and documents are sent back for review.
The technology also eliminates the problem of duplicate copies, which can cause many headaches for a company, leading to much wasted time if people on a project are inadvertently working from different versions.
Making essential tasks easy
In many cases, one big problem faced by many small business users is that essential operations remain very complex or time-consuming to complete. This may mean they have to devote additional resources to training, or spend time referring back to instructions frequently, both of which can also have an adverse effect on productivity.
That's why opting for tools that are familiar and easy-to-use is a must. Office 365 provides a wide range of handy time-saving tools that anybody can use to complete tasks and make their documents look professional.
For example, Excel's Auto-Chart feature makes it easy to analyse data and offers a range of options for clearly illustrating information with minimal effort. PowerPoint templates can also help you intuitively design and style professional and unique presentations, while its Presenter mode enables users to give smooth pitches, with features such as the ability to view reading notes and a timer to warn them when they go on too long.