Strong communication allows for teams of employees to exceed the sum of their parts, operating as a cohesive unit rather than a group of disconnected individuals. For this reason, the creation and subsequent maintenance of robust and efficient communication infrastructure is perhaps the single most important auxiliary task businesses carry out today. Regardless of the managerial model, breakdowns in communication always lead to waste and hamper your team's ability to do the work you need them to do.
Thankfully, technological advancements from email to cloud storage have solved many problems in the domain of corporate communication, allowing businesses to operate more effectively than ever before. Microsoft is well known in the field as the gold standard of corporate collaboration systems. It has created a vast ecosystem of tools your team members can leverage to streamline their communication and collaboration. Understanding which ones are best for your business can be a little tricky, but I assure you, spending the time to learn about and then deploy the tools that fit your team will inevitably strengthen your business.
Microsoft has created six collaboration tools, each with its own use cases and specialties. Though some of them overlap, they each have their own niches and are frequently used in combination to maximize the efficiency of communication.
These six software are as follows:
#1 One drive
One drive is a streamlined cloud file hosting service and a key collaborative element of the Microsoft Office Online ecosystem. It allows users to upload and download files from a shared cloud storage space,
Originally called Hotmail before it was acquired, Outlook is Microsoft's in-house email solution that incorporates mail, calendaring, contact, and task planning service. This extended mail service in and of itself is a capable collaboration tool depending on the needs of the business.
#3 Skype for business
Skype for business, just released in December of 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic began to ramp up, is an Instant messaging and web conferencing platform designed to compete directly with Zoom.
#4 Microsoft teams
Teams is Microsoft's flagship collaboration and communication tool for businesses. This past year, due largely to the Covid-19 pandemic, Microsoft teams have grown its user base by a factor of over seven, and for a good reason. It is an excellent and complete collaborative experience, connecting team members seamlessly and efficiently.
Microsoft Sharepoint is a powerful document-sharing intranet solution and the gold standard of logistical/technical collaborative tools. It has a high degree of customizability and can be tailored to suit your business's exact needs.
Sharepoint is unique among these as modular and highly customizable through its use of add-ons. It stands out among the rest and is generally the most impactful and wide-reaching tool of the bunch, capable of changing the way you conduct your business for the better. It is not only a collaboration tool but also a powerful logistics platform capable of a wide array of useful functions. It is often used in tandem with other Microsoft tools. Microsoft Teams is one such tool and synergizes very well with Sharepoint, allowing teams, even those working remotely, to communicate instantaneously through both video meetings and instant messaging, all while sharing project elements through the Sharepoint system, carrying out other tasks through whatever customized version and add-ons apply to their work.
Microsoft's Rob German explains how Sharepoint and Teams can be connected through their respective organizational trees as follows:
"Both Teams and SharePoint team sites are organized by topic, project, organization, or some other focal point for a team of people. Hence, in any given organization, Teams and channels will often follow a similar structure to SharePoint team and project sites."
When deciding which Microsoft collaboration tools will serve your business best, it is important to analyze the scale and function of your business; for example, skype for business and teams overlap in a variety of ways choosing between the two is very difficult. Now is a particularly good time to introduce effective digital collaborative tools into your team's workflow, as coming together to work in the traditional sense has been hampered drastically by the pandemic. Due to the specialized nature of this realm of management, it is often best to consult with an external firm to both advise you on what tools best suit your business and then to work with you to customize the tools in a way that best serves you and your team.
Here at Infowise, we use Microsoft Teams for most internal communication that requires an instant response. I personally find it to be an effective tool. We've seen firsthand how businesses can benefit from its use. That being said, every business is different, so making sure you make the right choices on your journey to upgrading your team's collaborative capabilities is paramount to the success of the systems. If you have any further questions about either Sharepoint or the greater Microsoft collaborative tool ecosystem, please feel free to reach us here at Infowise.
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