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March 13th, 2015

Office_Mar12_CWith the release of Office for Mac 2016, Microsoft brings a long overdue refresh to its flagship suite of productivity applications for Mac users. As well as design changes that deliver similarities to the Windows versions of the applications, the latest upgrade - currently free of charge while it remains in preview stage, prior to full release later this year - harnesses the power of cloud computing to deliver Office 365 collaboration features. Thinking of upgrading? Here’s what to look out for in the new release.

Cloud power

Office for Mac 2016 takes the power of the cloud and puts it to full use, bringing the advantages of its cloud-oriented Office 365 applications to its flagship package. As a result, you can now access your Office documents whenever and wherever, and no matter which device you are using. Aside from Office 365, the new software is also integrated with OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint.

It’s now possible to jointly author Word and PowerPoint documents with colleagues, and to make challenges simultaneously. Much like Google Docs, you can run a chat conversation alongside the document, in order to discuss the changes you are each making. Word and PowerPoint automatically flag up updates to the document that you might not have spotted already. These features are already available to Windows-based users of Office.

Sharing documents also becomes simpler, with a dedicated sharing button in the applications’ top right corner that allows you to invite colleagues to collaborate on the document you’re working on. It’s possible to share a document either as an attachment or as a link, and of course to control access rights for each person to whom you give access. You can open others’ Office documents right from your email account and get straight to editing.

Ribbon refresh

Until now, there have been differences in the options available on the ‘ribbon’ of icons that appear beneath the File, Edit and other menus at the top of the screen. You might see one thing on your Mac but another on your PC, and another still on your tablet. With Office for Mac 2016, Microsoft has taken the opportunity to fix those inconsistencies, so you’ll now find the options you need in the same places across all the platforms you use. A new task pane is also intended to help simplify graphics editing.

Email grouping

The updates to Outlook, and OneNote too, were actually released in 2014 and so are technically not new with this release. But one such useful update that is carried through to Office for Mac 2016 is the organization of Outlook emails by conversation, as is the case with Gmail. Emails can be sorted using a variety of other criteria, too.

Presentation aids

Office for Mac 2016 makes life a little easier for those presenting using PowerPoint slides. While your audience is shown the final product on your big screen, you can benefit from having ‘presenter view’ open on your monitor. This dedicated view gives you access to all of your presentation’s slides, any associated notes and also a timer to help you keep pace.

The entire suite of Office for Mac 2016 applications - including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook - is available for free upgrade during Microsoft’s preview period, which runs until later this year. Once that comes to an end, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription or perpetual licence in order to keep making the most of the package’s features.

To find out more about boosting your company’s productivity with Microsoft Office applications, give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 31st, 2015

Productivity_Jan29_CDoes it seem like everyday another PC breaks down or your IT contractor interrupts you with questions about your software budget? In today’s world, technology shouldn’t be slowing down your business, it should be speeding it up. If it’s not helping you, it’s time to admit you have a problem before your employees organize an intervention. Here are four ideas on how technology can blast your business into the future.

Work together from anywhere

With the onset of Cloud technology, it’s now possible for your employees to work easily from anywhere - be it Bangkok, Belize or Boston. With Cloud-based suite products, employees can log on from remote locations and access company files. All they need is a web-enabled device.

Cloud-based technology also makes it easier than ever for your staff to collaborate. While one employee is in a coffee shop in Vancouver and another is at a desktop in your office, they can both be editing the same document at the same time. This makes it easy for your staff to remain on the same page, both literally and metaphorically, which in turn boosts both productivity and profits.

While many SMBs use public Cloud applications like Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote, private pro-level options are available, which come with more security and more features.

Keep all your data in the Cloud

The fact is that searching through spreadsheets for information stored in bloated data sets can be a huge waste of time. By having all your data in the Cloud, all your information will be in one place. So when you’re looking for that critical client receipt for your taxes, you’ll know where it is immediately.

Thanks to its remote access and collaboration possibilities, the Cloud also gives you and your staff easy access to all of your data wherever in the world you are.

Identify bottlenecks and upgrade your technology

Facing the facts about your current technology is key to increasing productivity. Yes we know you love your tablet from way back in 2008. You even named her Susie, after your niece, because they’re both so darn creative. But let’s face it, Susie is old now and is slowing down your business. She’s served you well, but it’s time to upgrade.

And desktops aren’t the only technology that can slow you down. There are also unreliable internet connections, obsolete software and outdated email providers. The list goes on…

The solution is to take a careful inventory of your current IT technology and see what’s keeping your business from reaching its true productivity potential. After you have your list, update your technology accordingly. Then create a plan to regularly upgrade your IT resources, so your employees are never being slowed down.

Outsource your IT

As the old saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Whether you have a part-time contractor or a fully-staffed IT department, the mere presence of tech staff onsite in your workplace can be a distraction. When you’re focusing on sales or setting up meetings with potential clients, a knock at your door from your IT colleague - because he or she has just discovered a glitch in your system - can take you out of the flow of the task at hand.

On the other hand, outsourced IT departments are proactive in preventing technical issues from popping up in the first place. They’ll fix problems without you even knowing they existed, and without distracting you from your core work. All of which means a great boost to your day-to-day productivity - and therefore profitability.

Want to know more ways IT can enhance your company’s productivity? Contact us today to learn how.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
November 20th, 2013

Office365_Nov18_COffice 365, the popular cloud-based version of Microsoft Office, has a lot to offer subscribers. What many users may not know though, is that each version of Office 365 comes with Office Web Apps - the browser-based version of Office programs. Office Web Apps have fewer features than their full-version counterparts, but are none-the-less useful. Microsoft recently updated the Word Web App making it even more appealing to businesses.

Here is an overview of the recent functions updated in the Office Web Apps version of Microsoft Word

Updates to Word with Office Web Apps Because so many people work in teams these days, collaboration is key, and cloud-based services have really enabled this teamwork. Take for example Microsoft Word documents - if you were working on a document as a team, you traditionally each worked on your own versions which were shared amongst members and which would then have to be updated to a newer version. This makes it difficult to keep track of different versions.

With the Office Web Apps version of Word, users can work on the same document at the same time. The only problem is that the document has always had to be saved in order for the changes to show on all versions. This isn't the best solution where teams need to collaborate in a fast-paced environment.

Microsoft's answer to this issue was to introduce what they call 'real-time co-authoring'. According to the announcement, "You will be able to contribute and edit documents simultaneously in the Word Web App, PowerPoint Web App or Excel Web App. New real-time presence helps you see where your co-authors are working in the document so that you don't create conflicts as you edit."

You can also see any changes being made to the formatting and the text in real-time which can really help keep all members of the team on the same page, quite literally, with successful collaboration.

The second change introduced, specifically to Word Web App, is that documents are now saved in real time. This makes it even easier to work on documents as a team, largely because you will no longer have to keep track of versions of documents and worry about whether the changes or updates you have made are saved.

Finally, Microsoft also introduced enhanced editing features to Word Web App. This includes the ability to find and replace words in a document, format and style tables, and insert headers and footers.

With these updates and extended features, Office Web Apps, and more specifically the Word Web App, have become more powerful tools and many businesses should find these platforms more useful.

If you are looking to learn more about how you can use Office Web Apps in your company get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 5th, 2012

Collaboration is all around us. We see it on a daily basis in both our personal and professional lives. At work we cooperate with colleagues, managers, suppliers, customers and almost everyone we come in contact with at the office. It’s become so important that if businesses have employees who don’t mesh, their chances of success are almost non-existent.

Here are seven tips on how to improve collaboration within the office environment.

  1. Open communication. One of the keys to successful teams is the adoption and encouragement of an open communication culture. With this, teams are better able to grasp what’s going on within the company, and be more efficient contributors and team players.
  2. Use the right technology. It seems like there are a million different software and technology options out there. Some of the tools available offer some fantastic features and it’s easy to get sucked in by a flashy component. It’s important that when choosing a tool you pick one that meets your company’s needs and is easy to use.
  3. Collaboration tools must play well with others. It’s beneficial to select systems that can be seamlessly integrated with other tools and software used by your employees. If your solutions don’t work together, all parties won’t be able to work together.
  4. Employee learning is key. When you find the perfect tool to use, be careful to take time and learn how to effectively use it. Training for the users of the tool is equally important.
  5. Work hard, play harder. Teams and departments should step away from their computers and actually have face-to-face meetings at least once a week. These meetings should be a mixture of formal and informal, and offer employees a chance to come together as a team, unwind and share ideas. A team that can interact well will always work together with greater efficiency.
  6. Mobilize. The smartphone is here to stay and with each passing year the number of users grows exponentially. It’s beneficial to encourage the use of these devices, and look for mobile solutions that allow users to be a part of the group while out of the office. If you do allow mobile devices, be sure to establish a clear usage policy so employees know how and when they should be using their phones.
  7. Don’t just focus on internal collaboration. One of the most common mistakes companies make is that they focus on group participation within the business, but don’t provide adequate support for external interactions. Be sure you integrate tools that provide stakeholders with a way to connect and work with teams within the company.
With a team that interacts effectively you’ll see happier employees and higher profits: a win-win situation. If you have any questions regarding collaboration tools, or other ways to increase business value please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 2nd, 2010

phone keypadSmall businesses can now put VoIP to work for their business.

The same network that handles the flow of data such as web access and email can also accommodate voice as well. A few years ago, Voice-over-IP (VoIP), or Internet telephony, was touted as the next big wave in technology. For many businesses especially geographically distributed ones VoIP provides a way to dramatically reduce the cost of communications and maximize investments already made in their network infrastructure.

In addition to saving money and using resources more efficiently, VoIP lets employees be more productive and efficient by giving them the ability to receive and make calls anywhere with a data connection. VoIP also reduces the complexity associated with managing multiple networks and devices for communication. Companies can set up their office network so that each employee can use a single device, such as a computer or a smart phone, to handle everything from email, chat, messages, fax, and more. Finally, VoIP enables real-time collaboration when used with video conferencing and screen sharing applications.

All this used to come with a big price tag, but that’s no longer the case. With the great strides made in technology the last few years, VoIP is now easily within reach for many businesses large or small. The range of choices include free, downloadable software that allows users to make free calls over the Internet from PCs or mobile devices, as well as services that can be used and accessed from your web browser, your favorite email service or software, and even old-school analog phones as well!

VoIP is certainly a technology that has come of age. It’s cheap, ubiquitous, and easy to use, and all businesses would do well to add VoIP to their toolset for substantial cost savings and greatly improved efficiency and productivity.

Looking for some guidance in adding VoIP to your toolset? Give us a call we have answers!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
July 20th, 2010

Work no longer has to be a place your employees go at a certain time. Learn what technologies can enable your employees to get more done from any location, any time.

Lately there has been a trend among companies, no matter what size and maturity, toward the use of so-called “virtual” teams. Driven perhaps by rising office and energy costs, maturity of computing and network technologies, talent scarcity, or simply the opportunity to realize increased efficiency,  this has resulted in the adoption of flexible work arrangements for some employees including flexible time and working from home – or even from remote locations in different time zones.

Along with this trend has come the need to support this new way of working. A wealth of options exists—from virtual team spaces and online collaborative tools to more advanced communication devices such as smartphones and tablets. Here are a few examples.

For teams working at the same time but from different locations:

  • Conferencing applications—via telephone or video
  • Shared workspaces and whiteboards
  • Instant messaging
  • Wireless communication devices

For teams working at different times but in the same place:

  • Team rooms
  • Intranets

For teams working at different times and from different places:

  • Extranets
  • Virtual Private Networks
  • E-mail/Groupware
  • Message boards
  • Blogs and knowledgebase tools

With the right tools, work can happen any time and from any place. Interested? Get in touch with us and find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
August 10th, 2009

At the recently concluded Microsoft World Wide Partners Conference, the company gave partners a preview of upcoming features in Microsoft Office 2010 that could be very useful for small and midsized companies. Among them:

  1.  Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote 2010 now lets several people work on a document at the same time. Users of the desktop versions of the software will be able to send out a text link that will let anyone click on the link and use Windows Live to open the document and work on the live, with all parties seeing each others’ changes.
  2. Outlook 2010 will have a new feature which will allow users to ignore email threads, deleting everything in that conversation, including existing messages and any new ones that come in.
  3. PowerPoint 2010 will have a Broadcast feature will create a URL that users can share via e-mail or IM. Clicking on the link will let other users see a slideshow streaming directly from the author’s desktop.

To find out more about these new features, visit the Microsoft WWPC website.

Related articles:

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
May 31st, 2009

article_working_with_IMAre you avoiding instant messaging (IM) for fear that it will distract your employees and cut productivity? In fact, the opposite may be true.

What is IM?

IM is software that allows you to communicate in real time with other people who have the same software. It’s like email, but instantaneous.

IM was originally considered a way to stay in touch with friends and family, but lately it’s taken off in the workplace. That’s because IM offers a fast, convenient way for employees to interact with colleagues or clients in real time. In fact, many cutting-edge employers now encourage their employees to use IM instead of phone calls or e-mails.

Benefits include:

  • Increased productivity: Workers can remain at their workstations instead of walking across the office or picking up the phone to obtain information, and the need for time-consuming meetings is reduced.
  • Real-time communication with vendors and customers.
  • Connection of traveling employees through mobile devices.

Where can you get it?

While there are many free IM services available such as AOL, Yahoo!, Skype, and MSN, many companies now offer solutions specifically designed for business. We can work with you to determine the best solution for your specific needs

How to get started:

  1. Select a single provider.
  2. Expand services as needed. While basic IM may be adequate for some small businesses, others may benefit from expanded offerings, such as text conferencing, pop-up messaging, and email integration.
  3. Make sure your information is protected from external threats such as hackers and viruses.
  4. Create a usage policy to avoid internal misuse.
  5. Ensure that all employees know the rules and have installed the software on their systems.

To be effective, your IM application should be carefully integrated with your existing IT system and workflow. Give us a call today and we’ll help you through these steps to implement a secure and productive IM solution.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
November 24th, 2008

Collaboration_bigReading this article will give you an overview of tools and technologies that will help you and your teams collaborate effectively and productively.

Collaboration and teamwork can make or break a company. Long gone are the days when your employees could work independent of each other. In today’s market, if you want to stay competitive you need to use collaboration to the fullest. Thanks to various tools and technologies, this task is simple.

Which Basic Collaboration Technologies Are Right for Me?

Every business needs to use some kind of collaboration technique. In fact, there is no business in today’s world that can survive without basic collaboration technologies such as a company Intranet, email server, a fax/print server, or a time management functionality (for instance, electronic calendars). These technologies are so fundamental that most likely you have been using them for ages. So, as you might be surprised to learn that you are actually already using collaboration technologies but you just didn’t know it!

However, you may also be surprised to learn about additional tools that you may not be using today that will help improve your company’s collaboration efforts.
In addition to the basic collaboration technologies you have used for years, new ones are emerging all the time. Below is a list some of the most popular groups of collaboration technologies you can use in your day-to-day operations. To learn more about each collaboration tool, just click on each link to read our related articles.

  • Conferencing tools. Audio and video conferences become a daily necessity for many companies. No matter whether you use audio and video conferencing to communicate with your distributed team or with suppliers and clients from all over the world, these collaboration technologies can be very useful.
  • Document and application sharing. When many people work with the same document at the same time, it is very inconvenient when you have to wait for your colleagues to finish his or her tasks with that document, so that you can proceed with your work. Document and application sharing make that inconvenience history since it’s now possible for many people to work simultaneously on the same document.
  • Workflow and project management. Workflow and project management technologies will help you manage your business more effectively by minimizing downtime and increasing the performance of your employees through organizing tasks better.
  • Online collaboration. Even if you don’t have many (or any) tele-workers and remote workers, online collaboration tools are great because you can access them from everywhere and you can work at any time you please. Additionally, you can share these tools with your suppliers and clients and further improve your sales and customer service process.
  • Change management. Maintaining multiple versions of the same document is too much of a hassle, but not when change management technologies handle this for you. When you use these technologies, you can maintain as many versions of a document as you like, and all of them will be neatly organized and readily accessible.
  • Knowledge management. Knowledge is power, and there is hardly a company that will not benefit from a company wiki or other form of knowledge management system.

The collaboration technologies listed here are just a sampling of what’s available. There are literally hundreds of collaboration technologies and depending on your particular needs you may choose one or another. Of course, it is best if you can find an all-in-one solution, such as Windows Small Business Server (SBS), which includes many or all of the technologies you need.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
November 21st, 2008

“Lower costs and ease of use mean companies of any size can create their own intranets. Here’s how to get the most from this technology.

Seven years ago, INK, Inc., a pay-for-placement media relations firm, needed a way for its staff to quickly share information about potential opportunities for clients. E-mail was too awkward and restrictive, especially where images or video materials were concerned. The answer was for INK to create its own intranet.”

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles, News