How to access SMB productivity tools in the cloud
It is little wonder small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) love the cloud - hosted services allow company bosses to do so much more, with fewer resources. In 2014, a host of productivity services are available over the internet, giving businesspeople the ability to work effectively wherever they are, and whichever connected device they have access to.
Signing up to Microsoft Office 365 brings the power of a desktop computer - and all its software features, tools and applications - to remote workers who are away from their PC. Users can access online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Lync, SharePoint, Access, Publisher and Outlook, allowing them to get things done wherever they happen to be.
Having access to Office 365 means professionals have more freedom to choose where and when they work - ensuring they can make full use of the working day. No longer is the productivity of individual workers inextricably linked to their physical presence in the office. All they need is an internet connection, sufficient bandwidth to use cloud services, a web-enabled device and access to a suite of productivity solutions.
Benefits of cloud-based productivity
Employees are able to access Microsoft Office tools on multiple devices, including a work PC, home laptop, personal tablet and smartphone. This is because each registered Office 365 user can access the service on up to five different devices. There is no need to take out duplicate subscriptions if you want to have access to Word and Excel on your various connected devices. All users need to do is log in with their Microsoft username and password - this brings up their personal settings regardless of which device is being utilised. They can then access files, documents, data and productivity tools online via a range of platforms.
Subscribers to the cloud-based service receive real-time updates, ensuring they always have access to the latest solutions available. Users do not even need to stop working while these updates are installed. It is possible for more than one user to access files and documents at the same time, which is beneficial from a collaboration perspective. Users are able to work together on projects, even if they are based in a different location.
Office 365 is easy to administer for SMBs - there is no need to have world-class IT professionals among your staff in order to take advantage of the service. Particularly where the smallest companies are concerned, few can afford to have dedicated IT personnel - it is often the company owner who will be responsible for IT. Fortunately, SMBs can rely on vendor-level support from Microsoft, both in terms of keeping Office solutions up to date and ensuring continued accessibility and user security.
How to equip employees with Office 365
If SMBs are looking to deliver online productivity services to their employees, the first step to take is to sign up for Office 365. A variety of different packages are available depending on the number of services the company wants and the amount it is able to pay. These include Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 Midsize Business and Office 365 Enterprise. There are minimum system requirements for each Office 365 package and subscribers need to ensure their hardware is up to the task.
Installing Office 365 is relatively straightforward. On the computer or device you are making the installation, go to your account page and click 'Available Installs'. From here, choose 'Office for Windows' and then click 'Install'. If you are downloading Office 365 to a PC, the productivity suite will install itself automatically, allowing employees to get started with Microsoft solutions in the cloud.
Find out how Microsoft cloud services such as Office 365 can benefit your SMB.