Switching to Microsoft Office 365 is one of the fastest, easiest and most beneficial ways you can take your accounting firm into the cloud. With all the familiarity of Microsoft Office, ‘going 365’ takes staff into a new way of working with minimal disruption. What’s more, it rapidly demonstrates the many benefits which can be expected from cloud services: flexibility, mobile working, ease of access to information, improved collaboration and communication capabilities.
Check out these 5 ways Office 365 can help your accounting firm streamline operations and improve performance.
1. Collaborative working
SharePoint is one of the gems of Office 365. Functioning as an intranet – a collaborative workspace – it equips your staff members (within Office 365) to simultaneously coedit documents. Because it is a central location for files, users can share links with team members and view changes being made in real time. And it acts as an archived collaboration platform that avoids communication silos and problems with versioning.
SharePoint does more, too. Centrally host information like company deadlines and events, so everyone is in the loop. Schedule single or recurring events in SharePoint calendar – and those events can be added to individual Outlook calendars, too, making it simple to keep on top of appointments. Then there’s SharePoint Notebook, which can be used as a whiteboard space to brainstorm, gather files and notes on company projects, create recordings and more. The centralisation of notes and ideas exchange makes for easy collaboration and information sharing.
2. OneDrive for Business and sharing documents
Storing information is a constant reality for accountants. Working together on various client matters can mean the creation of multiple copies of documents, giving rise to the spectre of versioning (you know the headache). Here’s the aspirin: OneDrive for Business lets your store, access, and share documents on any internet connected device. With OneDrive integrated into Office 365, making a change to a file is immediately reflected across all devices.
It’s flexible, too. You can set access and editing permissions to reflect which team members can access specific files, reinforcing adherence to applicable compliance standards.
Accounting is all about clients and OneDrive takes that into account, too. Use it to securely share documents with your customers, including setting permissions (allowing the recipient to view, view and edit).
And remember the last time your hard drive crashed, and all your work was lost? When information is in OneDrive, it doesn’t matter. Your computer can die and go to heaven, but your data remains alive and kicking in the cloud.
3. Call, chat, conference: Audio and video with Skype for Business
Skype for Business is an invaluable tool for the accounting firm. It’s the one solution for instant messaging, voice calling, and video chat on any internet-capable device. Use it to communicate while coediting documents, sharing screens, hosting presentations, switching devices, exchanging ideas.
Because it is integrated with Office 365 applications, Skype for Business delivers easy communication from within Word or Excel or SharePoint. And it makes ‘conferencing in’ team members as simple as clicking a mouse or ‘drag and dropping’ their name from your contacts list.
4. Manage work with Planner
Here’s one the accountants will love: Planner is something akin to a virtual project manager. It supports your team’s cooperation and manages the assignment and status of tasks among individual contributors. Tasks are represented by “Cards”, with each one including due dates, attached files, and corresponding conversations and categories. The Planner records and displays the progress of individuals and teams using real-time data analytics. Give this one a try and you’ll not look back
5. Know more: Power BI
Businesses today are all about the creation of data. You know how much information passes through your hands daily, and how much the business of accounting generates. Wouldn’t it be good to make better use of it? With Microsoft Power BI, you can. This analytics service compiles all your company’s data into a single interface, delivering live dashboards that can represent any number of metrics to keep a close eye on performance, work in progress, targets and more. Power BI is all about visualisation: it takes ‘boring’ data and creates funnel charts, tree maps, gauges. Seeing is believing, and Power BI makes seeing more engaging and relevant to everyone in the business.
In addition to these features and benefits, Microsoft Office 365 in its entirety demonstrates why the cloud ‘just works’. The advantages are clear and easy to appreciate. That’s what makes a move to Office 365 the first step towards a completely ‘cloud’ business.