Office 365: more than just email » Charity Digital News

Office 365: more than just email

In this article Philip Anthony, Director at CoopSys, takes a look at the key features charities can access through Office 365 – and is offering charities a free Office 365 trial

Currently, CoopSys is working with 75 charities, big and small, who have embraced the benefits of Office 365. Not one of those will go back to what they had before, simply because they now have access to everything they used to have, plus so much more.

Office 365 is about much more than just email and for this article I thought I would detail some of the available features that I really like – and which can be of huge benefit to charities. These are all features that are available in addition to the familiar Word, Excel etc.

Skype: This is a big one, particularly for organisations with branch offices who can benefit from video meetings. We’re currently working on a project for Ethical Investment Research Services (EIRIS), who are merging with a French organisation called Vigeo. There’s a lot of project planning involved with bringing their IT together and, thanks to Skype, instead of having to schlep across the Channel on the Eurostar, we can have meetings remotely and even move the camera around to show things. It’s a game-changer for charities who are having to manage resources extra carefully these days.

Sharepoint: Another big one – but one that’s challenging to implement – is Sharepoint. It’s a more sophisticated beast than the old S:Drive or L:Drive which we’re so familiar with, so much so that organisations often take third party software to retain familiarity with this mapping. But if you’re going to use Sharepoint, you need to fully embrace it so that the full benefits can be realised.

We’ve got a project with RedR, the disaster relief organisation, who are properly getting into it. They want to metatag documents so that engineers in the field can quickly find what they’re looking for. That’s the sort of potential it brings. But change does need managing.

OneNote: One of my personal favourites is OneNote, which sounds basic – it’s a simple notepad device – but because it syncs across all devices it’s very, very handy. We’ve all been in situations where you need to finish a report, for example, but can’t find your notes. With OneNote, everything you need is there, so there’s no delay and productivity is enhanced.

Video: Office 365 has a built-in video app, which is like a private YouTube channel, that can be shared with staff and stakeholders.

Yammer: This is like an organisational Facebook. Everyone sends email everywhere, and while much of it isn’t important, it is nice to know. Yammer enables you to have a second screen for that kind of information. It’s a great way to boost communication.

 

Overcoming the digital divide

In my experience it can be a challenge to get organisations to adopt these features and we also see a real divide within organisations. It’s natural to get people who want to embrace the new and those who are reluctant to move on and change. However, with the likes of Yammer, you really do need to get everybody on board for it to be a success. What we’ve done internally to encourage engagement is to use it for exclusive content – if you want to hear the thoughts of Chairman Phil, you have to be using Yammer!

The beauty of Office 365, when it’s fully embraced, is the flexibility that it brings. As long as you have a smartphone, tablet or PC and an internet connection, employees can log in to their account. Remote IT access used to be for the privileged few. Now everybody has access everywhere at any time.

 

Coherent management

There are however some ‘issues’ to deal with and that means having a coherent management strategy in place. For example, when a staff member leaves an organisation, you need to change passwords quickly, not because they’ll do something nasty, but simply for due diligence.

But it is worth it. As we head into winter it’s inevitable there will be travel disruption through bad weather – plus strikes, of course – but if you have Office 365 and a remote working policy, the disruption is minimised. It’s also a way an organisation can provide a level of care to employees. It can also help to recruit and retain staff – good staff can walk, so why not add flexible and remote working options that help to make you more attractive.

Office 365 is a real game changer – we’re seeing countless charities who are improving their working practices by embracing its full line-up of features. The key message for me, for organisations that haven’t yet embraced Office 365, is to try it out. We advise that these organisations set up a trial – the trial software is free – and we’ll also set them up for free and deliver workshops so that people can get a taste of what it can do. Give it a go!

CoopSys is giving all charities the opportunity to trial Office 365 for free. As well as free trial software, set-up and assessment will also be provided free of charge. Workshops can also be arranged to give staff a taste of what’s possible. To take advantage of this offer – and to get your hands on a free guide to Office 365 – email team@coopsys.net.

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