Small businesses operate in the same fast-paced and competitive environment as their larger counterparts do, but they work with limited resources of funds and manpower, and initially this may not even be a problem because they have a small dedicated team of employees, excellent communication, a manageable number of projects, and a few achievable, short-term goals of winning a stable position in the market, bringing more and more customers and improving the bottom-line.
At this stage, they may not consider or feel the need to implement an intranet, and even if some do, they may brush it off for lack of a budget and no specialized staff to plan, design, and implement one. But soon the business will grow and there will be more employees, larger teams and projects, an information overload, and maybe more locations which will give rise to communication challenges.
Perhaps a very small percentage of SMBs are aware that an Office 365 intranet is a powerful tool to streamline their day to day operations, get work done quickly and easily, improve communications, optimize business processes, boost employee productivity and efficiency, simplify collaboration, and much more – for a small, monthly subscription.
An Office 365 intranet grows with your organization by allowing seamless extensions and new additions to your business intranet while securing and governing it by enabling set permissions based on your requirements and organization structure.
In this article, we have highlighted how you can leverage an Office 365 intranet to grow your small business’s bottom line. But first, let’s go through the common challenges that small businesses often face.
Documents stored at different places
Organizing key business content at one place and searching for relevant information quickly are common problems for all businesses.
An IDC study estimated that document challenges hamper almost 21.3% of most organizations’ overall productivity. Workers spend considerable time every week in consolidating information from different files and formats, searching unsuccessfully for documents that are scattered all over the place, re-creating material, and dealing with paper-based forms and documents.
Globally dispersed and remote workforce
The workforce in a lot of enterprises has become global. We no longer sit in cubicles with our desktops in front of us, to work. In fact, according to Microsoft, nine out of ten employees spend at least 20 per cent of their time away from their primary workplace. People these days work from anywhere, on devices of all kinds.
Technology must provide for a mobile workforce and have tools which allow employees to have anytime, anywhere access to work, knowledge and colleagues.
Lack of Engagement
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs, 67% are not engaged and 18% are actively disengaged. These are alarming numbers and they have repercussions. Disengaged employees feel unheard, unmotivated, and disconnected which often leads to less collaboration, less problem solving, and an overall low productivity.
Enterprises are aware of the outcomes of disengaged, dissatisfied employees and are trying to find ways to provide them with a company culture that supports growth and productivity.
Lack of scalable digital tools
As your company grows; in profits and in headcount; the number of emails and documents generated increases exponentially and can outgrow your existing servers. Also, operations requiring paperwork, order forms, approvals to process, become even more cumbersome as the organization structure changes and the hierarchy becomes more complex.
The tools you are accustomed to using for your emails, forms, documents, calendars, etc. no longer qualify to manage your heavy data flow and you need a robust system and infrastructure, more streamlined processes and more IT and server space to host your complex environment.
Advantages of a ready-to-go, Office 365 Intranet
An Office 365 intranet offers a list of advantages for small businesses. Along with making them very affordable with their monthly subscription pricing which is scalable, it also makes the latest and greatest technologies available to these businesses which gives them a competitive edge in their marketplace.
Technologies such as cloud and mobility help SMBs succeed
An Office 365 intranet keeps your work and all tools you need always updated and available in the cloud, which means they are available wherever you go, at any time, and you can access them using any device. This 24/7, device independent availability empowers your team members to co-author documents, publish content, route their forms for approvals, track their tasks, update calendars, get reminders, and much more; using their desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone.
Improved efficiency, productivity and ability to compete
An Office 365 intranet helps streamline processes by automating tasks, workflows, and approvals, thereby saving time. It also integrates with other business applications, by consolidating information and making everything available in one location.
Office 365 Intranet can serve as an HR portal, project management tool, executive dashboard for business insights, operations and quality management tracker, and an IT savior, to stay competent and agile in a dynamic environment.
It replaces paper forms with electronic forms, provides document libraries to organize and update documents, and simplifies managing projects and tasks across departments, on any device. All of this leads to increased efficiency and employee productivity.
Improved employee engagement
Some large enterprises are spending millions of dollars on increasing employee engagement. Some are going to great heights creating unique office environments by providing free, healthy meals, workout sessions, game rooms, etc. And others are concentrating on providing their employees with better training, communicating the goals and objectives clearly, and encouraging participation and suggestions from employees.
An Office 365 intranet can easily boost employee engagement by serving as a one-stop destination to meet all work-related goals and get up-to-date information and news. It provides your employees with a familiar set of tools and applications to connect, engage and work together. Since it is on the cloud, users can leverage the full suite of its capabilities and enjoy a fun, rewarding and entertaining experience, no matter wherever they are, on a device of their choice.
Provides flexibility and scalability
An Office 365 intranet is flexible and scalable. As you grow you can add more subscriptions for new employees, create new departments, add more projects, documents, teams, set permissions based on your organization structure, etc. – It grows with you.
You can also add more functionality as your needs grow, integrate it with other business solutions, and customize it to some of your specific needs. An Office 365 intranet integrates with your Office 365 and SharePoint as well as your existing business systems and workflows, to bring users, ideas, and work to a central platform.
Ensures safety and security
Along with providing easy access and sharing capabilities, an intranet on Office 365 also keeps your data secure. In fact, it deploys security at multiple levels:
At the infrastructure level, the Microsoft cloud is highly secure and meets all security protocols and standards.
Office 365 Administration Center provides a Security and Compliance module which logs every action of a user and audit reports can be easily generated and reviewed.
Office 365 also enables document and structured data protection by enabling permission levels at granular levels. You can customize it any way you want, which gives you the power to control who sees what.
Helps your employees stay agile to serve existing customers and drive sales
Rather than using separate standalone tools for separate work goals, an intranet turns Office 365 into a full workplace solution that can be used for more than just collaboration. Whether it is sending emails, document review, customer management, form submissions, publishing news, or suggesting a holiday party theme – it can all be done in an Office 365 intranet.
An Office 365 intranet can be beautifully molded into an Employee management portal, data visualization & reporting engine, product development workspace and can also help streamline your overheads related to finance, operations, quality control, and much more.
Requires no IT or expert SharePoint skills
Ready-to-go Office 365 intranets keep complexity behind the scenes and give the users the tools to configure and customize some of its features. It is quick and easy to install and set up, so you don’t have an extra overhead of hiring specialized IT/SharePoint resources for its implementation. A designated administrator/super-user can follow instructions to set up departments, create users and set permissions. Further, a ready-to-go Office 365 intranet can be up and running in a few days and you can start to enjoy the many benefits it offers.
An intranet brings together your people, their ideas, and the collective drive to achieve a common goal. It is still one of the most effective and powerful tools that any small business or a company of any size can use to better handle critical areas of its business. SharePoint and Office 365 Intranets are not only time-tested and industry-proven, many of these are now tailored and offered as light-weight, cost-effective, user-friendly, and easy to set up solutions.